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Families affected by learning difficulties help shape research agenda

Sep 2018: Young people with learning difficulties and their families have helped to identify key areas of research that could improve their lives.

A consultation co-led by CCBS researchers has identified ten research priorities that will be used to inform new research initiatives at the University of Edinburgh and worldwide. The list includes devising approaches to tackle bullying and creating the best learning environments.

The consultation to better understand the needs of people living with learning difficulties and professionals who support them was led by The Salvesen Mindroom Centre and the University of Edinburgh in partnership with the James Lind Alliance, a non-profit organisation that helps set research priorities.

The SMC Research Centre for Learning Difficulties is a philanthropically funded research hub that has recently become part of the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences.

a young man holding up a sign describing what learning difficulties research he would like to be done

Estimates suggest as many as one in five children in Scotland has a learning difficulty, which are often linked to conditions such as dyslexia, ADHD and autism. Tests to spot early signs of difficulties and identify the best ways that professionals can support families were highlighted as key goals in the consultation.

More than 700 responses were received from across Scotland during the consultation, which was promoted by charities, professional organisations and on social media.


It is vital that people with learning difficulties are given a voice and are involved in research design from the outset. We are delighted to now have clear priorities for our research going forward and are hopeful that the project will lead to improvements in diagnosis and support.

Professor Anne O’HareSMC Research Centre for Learning Difficulties, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences

Today’s launch is an exciting step towards ensuring that every person with a learning difficulty in Scotland receives the recognition and the support they need to achieve their potential. We look forward to working alongside the University of Edinburgh and wider research community to make that happen.

Christine CarlinChief Executive of The Salvesen Mindroom Centre

Related links

Professor Anne O'Hare profile

James Lind Alliance