“Small but MASSIVE” – Our Research into 22q 2018-07-01T15:59:48+00:00

National Landmark Longitudinal Research

22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome

“Nothing About Us Without Us”

“Small but MASSIVE”


Welcome to the home page of our 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome programme of research.  You are very welcome and many thanks for visiting.  This page will grow and develop over the next while (post-July, 2015) as we start to firm-up the research plans and studies that we will work on.or


If you are reading this, then we need you!


Regardless of whether you are someone who is a full-time researcher, a parent, or someone with 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, you have knowledge and skills that we need.

All of what we are planning involves some form of research and enquiry.  To get to where we want to be in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, and beyond, we need everyone’s input.

Research can be fun and rewarding!  So, whether you have a degree, do marketing, are a teacher, a psychologist, etc. consider getting involved.

There is just one requirement to getting involved: putting your hand in the air and saying that you’re “in”.


So, when I say “we”, who am I talking about?


Together with Anne Lawlor, who heads 22q11 Ireland, we have been chatting with various people who are happy to help us with the variety of studies that we are planning.  We are exceptionally fortunate that some of the best researchers in Ireland will be part of our research programme.


In combination with Anne Lawlor, Dr. Aoife O’Brien, Dr. Lucie Corcoran, and Dr. Kate Carr-Fanning, I will be helping to coordinate this landmark national longitudinal research into all aspects of 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome.


As I mentioned, we have assembled a great team, and it is growing by the day!  Why don’t you join us? If any if the following intrigues you and you think that you could help along, get in touch with me.


Some of those involved, and sample research issues, include:


Dr. Lucie Corcoran

Facebook Posts  |  Bullying  |  Education & Peer Relationships

Lucie will be coordinating the research that will examine how individuals with 22q experience peer relationships and will also explore whether they are exposed to bullying and victimization problems.  Bullying has been widely studied internationally since the 1970s, and recent research has focused on specific aspects of bullying such as homophobic, cyber, racial, and sexual bullying.  Findings overwhelmingly indicate the negative potential of involvement in bullying and victimization both short term and long term with regard to outcomes such as academic performance and psychological well being.  Whilst there is growing knowledge regarding bullying and victimization amongst many sectors of the population, there is a need to better understand peer relationships of children and adolescents with rare disease.  The existing body of literature on bullying and victimization can help to inform parents, teachers, psychologists, and young people about how best to counter and protect against bullying with a so-called ‘normative’ / typical population.  However, research which examines the same phenomena in a population with 22q can help to highlight if there are unique characteristics associated with this population.  The research will seek to explore these issues in separate questions with parents, educators, children, young people, and adults with 22q, so as to better understand the knowledge, attitudes, perceptions, and experiences regarding bullying and victimization problems.  The study will examine the following research questions:

  • How do individuals with 22q experience peer relationships / friendships?
  • Do the individuals with 22q commonly experience victimization?
  • Are those with 22q commonly involved in bullying others?
  • Do parents and educators report a negative / positive / both positive and negative perception of peer relationships among this population?
  • Is there a need for different prevention / intervention approaches with this population.
  • Given the diverse developmental differences among the 22q population, is it possible to identify patterns in peer relationships?


These are just some of the questions that will guide Lucie’s research project.  If you think that you have some skills or interest in helping with this project, please do let us know and we would be delighted to have you get involved.



Dr. Aoife O’Brien

Exploring the Concept of Loss

Aoife has developed an international knowledge of the theories and research related to bereavement and grief.  Of great interest to our research programme, Aoife has a substantial knowledge of how this issue is being dealt with in the Irish education context.  Whilst we often think of bereavement and grief as only applicable to when a significant human relationship ends, we can often see the same processes in other life experiences.  For example, the same processes can happen when a family pet dies, when we lose our job, or when a relationship breaks down, etc..  That is, we might experience our “assumptive world” shattering, or we might experience feelings of denial, anger, depression, or acceptance.  Whilst all of these are very normal experiences that can happen through bereavement and loss of a child or partner, they can also happen when we receive the news that a child has been diagnosed with a rare disease.
Aoife will be able to use the concepts to explore, for example:

•    How was information regarding diagnosis “delivered” to the individual or parents?
•    What were the important issues regarding how schools and educators dealt with this new information?
•    Do educators need training in order to provide support to families and pupils who have a diagnosis of 22q?
•    What provisions are in place in Irish schools to support pupils with 22q?
•    What kind of reactions to peers and their parents have to pupils who have 22q?
•    What can we do to create understanding and collegiality between schools and families?

These are just some of the questions that will guide Aoife’s research project.  If you think that you have some skills or interest in helping with this project, please do let us know and we would be delighted to have you get involved.



Dr. Kate Carr-Fanning

ADHD / ASD and “Voice”  |  Family Interviews

Kate is one of those rare academics and psychologists who feels equally at home in both research and advocacy settings.  Kate sits on the Board of ADHD Europe and is Deputy Chair of HADD (the national support group for ADHD).

Kate’s knowledge of ADHD is immense, and she has developed new methodological approaches to exploring issues like ADHD from the perspective of the young person.  Working within the educational research tradition of “voice”, Kate’s research and practical work very much illuminates the positive benefits of what “inclusion” really is.  In the words of a conference held recently by colleagues in the School of Education, Kate’s approach is very definitely “Nothing about us, without us”.

So, Kate will provide the subject and practical expertise that we need in relation to ADHD.  Kate will also work closely with me in terms of the initial family interviews and the establishment of the longitudinal dataset.  This dataset will grow and develop as the research grows and develops, and will be critical in terms of underpinning the central arguments that 22q Ireland and everyone else is trying to have listened to.  The dataset will include data that will be wide and varied – from our geneticists to our family history’s, to educational and social issues, to medical and mental health issues.



Alison Doyle

Psycho-educational Assessment  |  Advocacy  | Transition Planning

Alison is a psychologist and educator who is held in high esteem by all colleagues – both in her previous work with the Disability Service in TCD, and now in terms of her consultancy work and successful business.  Alison’s many years of direct experience will help us all at multiple levels.

I have recently published some research with Alison and another colleague who will be involved in the research programme – Emma Harkin (Educational Psychologist).  The research explored how higher education institutions in Ireland test individuals who present to Disability Services.  We found that there was no common standard or approach to assessment or reporting.  This is not acceptable.

We will seek to replicate this research in relation to the psycho-educational assessment of children and young people with 22q in the educational system.

The importance of this project is that it will help to determine the most appropriate manner in which to test children and young people with 22q – i.e, variables to test, instrument selection, administration protocols, reporting templates (1 x full technical report, 1 x “plain English” report).

The research will also explore “transition planning” in terms of how best to plan for and support our children and young people.  Alison has developed unique approaches to transition planning, and her insights will be much welcomed by us all.  Indeed, Alison is happy to act as a consultant to anyone who wishes to make those vital educational and personal transitions a real success.

Just following from the point above, Alison will also be available as a consultant to anyone who would like her help with advocacy issues.  As we all know, there are not only systems and policies to navigate, but also various meetings with professionals – e.g., the early intervention team (psychology, social work, speech and language, physiotherapy, occupational therapy), paediatricians, various medical professionals, schools, etc.  Alison would be able to coach interested individuals or families in relation to how to navigate these issues – indeed, she would be happy to act as a representative for such meetings.



Professor Mark Prendergast

Mathematics Education

Mark is an expert in mathematics education.  As we already know, mathematics is one of the issues where children with 22q struggle.  Mark will be exploring the underlying issues that contribute to this difficulty, and also how educators can be both “creative” and “imaginative” with the school curriculum.



Carol-Ann O’Síoráin

Mathematics Education  |  Autism

Carol-Ann O’Síoráin is a PhD candidate in the School of Education at Trinity College, Dublin.  Carol-Ann is a Montessori and primary school trained teacher with experience of teaching pupils with a variety of special educational needs.  Carol-Ann’s research interests and areas of expertise include: teaching and learning for pupils with autism and other syndromes, inclusive special education, early childhood education and care, teacher education, and literacy and numeracy.  Carol-Ann will research the professional development needs of teachers in mainstream primary school relating to knowledge of 22q, in particular she will focus on the use of hand-eye movements to support mathematical concept development for pupils with language and communication difficulties.



Professor Joseph Roche

Public Understanding of 22q  |  Science Education

Joseph adds a very interesting dimension to this work.  First and foremost, Joseph is an astro-physicist.  He has previously worked at NASA and also in TCD’s hugely interesting and popular visitor centre – the “Science Gallery”.  Joseph has also been involved in the critical advances being made by science in relation to travel to Mars.

Considering that many concepts related to 22q involve discussions of issues that range from genetics and mice models to medical impairments, to educational issues and mental health issues, it will be great to have a first class scientist who can communicate the complexity of this type of research to the wider community.



Professor Stephen James Minton

Psychology | Counselling |Contexts of Development

Stephen will be lending his help and support to the “Small but Massive” project wherever and whenever he can.  Stephen is a Chartered Psychologist with, and an Associate Fellow of, the British Psychological Society, a Chartered Scientist with the (British) Science Council, and is a Professor (Asst) in the Psychology of Education, at the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin. Stephen’s primary postgraduate training was as a Counselling Psychologist (M.Sc., Trinity College Dublin, 1997), and he contributes towards the teaching (and for the year 2015 – 2016, is the acting co-ordinator of) Trinity’s M.Ed. in Educational Guidance Counselling Masters programme.  However, his best-known contributions are in the field of anti-bullying research and practice, in which he has been involved for the past fifteen years.  As a practitioner, he has been involved in the design, resourcing, provision of training for, implementation and evaluation of anti-bullying and anti-cyber-bullying programmes at the school, local, regional, national, and pan-European levels.  Also a keen theoretician, Stephen is interested in the psychosocial contexts of child and adolescent development, and addressing prejudice (alterophobic, disablist, ethnic, homophobic, transphobic) as underlying factors in marginalisation and aggression.  He is the author of Using Psychology in the Classroom (Sage, 2012), the co-author (with Professor Mona O’Moore) of Dealing with Bullying in Schools: A Training Manual for Teachers, Parents and Other Professionals (Sage, 2004), and Cyber-Bullying: The Irish Experience (Nova Science, 2011).



Professor Matthew Campbell





Dr. Noel Purdy

Special Educational Needs  |  Bully/victim Problems  |  Northern Ireland



Professor Gloria Kirwan

Social Work

Professor Gloria Kirwan is a registered social worker and is currently Asst Professor of Social Work at Trinity College Dublin, where she is involved in the education of social work students.  Gloria’s research in recent years has focused on documenting and highlighting the experiences of people who live with a disability.  Gloria will work as part of the research team to learn from individuals with 22q, and their families, about their interactions with services, and the forms of support and assistance that they regard as important or useful.  Gloria’s research and knowledge of the social profession in Ireland (and internationally) will be highly relevant for the future education of the many professional disciplines who are involved in developing and delivering services to individuals with 22q and their families.



 Caroline Wheeler

Bully/victim Problems  |  Inclusive Education

Caroline Wheeler received her B.A. in Psychology from NUI Maynooth in 2011, and her M.Sc. in Applied Psychology from TCD in 2013.  Caroline’s M.Sc. thesis examined teachers’ perceptions of cyberbullying within Irish secondary schools.   Caroline has been busy on the research front – having presented her findings at conferences (e.g., the Psychological Society of Ireland).  As well as her research into bully/victim problems, including cyberbullying, Caroline’s research interests include special and inclusive education.  Caroline has worked on Project IRIS – a longitudinal study examining the provision of special education within Irish schools.



Emma Farrell

Mental Health Issues in Adolescence

Emma’s expertise lies in the area of youth mental health.  Emma has been actively involved in Headstrong, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health since its inception in 2006.  In this time Emma has developed skills and insights in the areas of youth engagement, advocacy, service design and development, as well as mental health promotion and education.  Emma is currently a member of Headstrong’s Board of Directors.  Emma’s research focuses on understanding the lived experience of third level students with mental health problems and on the meaning that these students ascribe to their experience.  For our 22q research, Emma brings along:

  • Expertise in youth mental health
  • 10 years experience of engaging young people in the development of services and supports they would feel would best meet their needs
  • Detailed knowledge  of health education and promotion
  • Understanding of services – current structures and pitfalls
  • Experience of conducting in-depth qualitative research with young people who are struggling with mental health issues



Jolanta (Jo) Burke

Positive Psychology  |  Happiness  |  Training




Emma Harkin

Educational Psychology  |  Psycho-educational Assessment



Geraldine Fitzgerald


Where would any researcher be without the expertise of a great subject librarian.  For our project, we are delighted to have Geraldine Fitzgerald, from Trinity College Dublin’s library, helping to keep us on top of the various articles that are being published in the area of 22q.  Although many people will not get to meet Geraldine, we just wanted to let you know that none of this great work could be done without Geraldine’s help and expertise.



Dean Mc Donnell

Psychology | Education | Technology

Dean is completing his doctoral research in the School of Education at Trinity College Dublin.  Dean has joined the research team to explore the ecosystemic factors associated with educational engagement and psychosocial development.  Graduating with an M.Sc. in CyberPsychology from IADT Dun Laoghaire, Dean has developed a great understanding of the use of technology within educational settings.  He has studied aspects of the use of technologies tailored to support individuals with mental health related issues.  Dean also works with students at both primary- and secondary-school level who are at risk of early school leaving, as a part of the School Completion Programme.  Through this work, Dean will also explore the needs of young people with 22q (especially males), in terms of facilitating the development of social skills and positive peer-relationships.  In a broad sense, Dean’s research will look at how individuals with 22q perceive their educational experience by evaluating their meso-level relationships.



Katie Doyle

Psychology | Neuropsychology

Katie Doyle is completing her studies in Applied Psychology at the Institute of Art and Design Technology (IADT), Dun Laoghaire.  Katie is passionate about bringing psychology into an applied health and educational setting.  Katie is very interested in health issues from a neuropsychological and clinical psychology perspective.  Katie is very excited to be working in our committed team to help advance research in the area of rare diseases – but especially with regards to 22q.  Katie is a highly successful and motivated psychologist – she brings her success and aptitude to the longitudinal research and will take special interest in aspects related to clinical neuropsychology.


Aoife Harmon

Psychological Development  |  Coping  |  Anxiety

Aoife is completing her studies in psychology and has a keen interest in the development of rare diseases (particularly 22q) and in the mechanisms related to the coping process. Aoife’s research will focus on developing an understanding of what makes someone – whether someone with 22q or a family member – a successful “coper.” Aoife will explore issues related to personal and situational factors. In the immediate future, Aoife will be leading on a project that will explore anxiety, coping, and social support. As we all know, each and every new issue that arises in relation to a person’s experience with 22q comes with some level of anxiety – generally a very high level!



Laura McCarthy

Transitions | The “WoW” Factor (World of Work) | Human Resources

Laura is at an advanced stage of her psychology studies and brings great enthusiasm to the research team with her novel ideas regarding how we can plan appropriately for successful “transitions” from school to the workplace. So much of the attention around schooling and transition planning is about the transition to further or higher education. Critically, there is a real dearth of information and research regarding the transition to employment. Laura is passionate about bringing positive change to people’s lives through research and applied practice. Like most in the field of psychology, Laura seeks to understand how we can make individuals happier and healthier.

Laura will be conversing with school principals, education guidance counsellors, resource teachers, etc. She will also be reviewing “what works” in other settings and countries – all with the goal of developing an approach tailored to our children and young people who wish to make a meaningful and successful transition from school to the world of work.

For this to be a success, transition planning needs to be integrated in the whole life-cycle of education (primary and secondary). In doing so, Laura’s research will equip our young people from an early age with the required “mindset”, competencies, and capabilities for success.

In terms of “mindset”, Laura will work closely with a senior HR partner to ensure the success of the project, and will also work closely with our Irish experts in the area of “growth mindset”, Peter Fitzgerald and Martina Fitzgerald.



Sinead Burke




Michelle Bartlett

Psychology | Medicine

Michelle Bartlett is a psychology / pre-medical student from the United States currently attending University of Notre Dame.  Michelle interned with Conor in the summer of 2015, focusing on the interface between education and rare diseases, with a special focus on 22q.  Michelle was able to draft a working document for publication and presented at the recent conference in Trinity College Dublin: “Nothing About Us Without Us”.  Michelle is currently completing her studies at Notre Dame and will continue her involvement with 22q research programme throughout her psychology / medical career.  Michelle is from Philadelphia and will act as a local link with Dr Donna Mc Donald-McGinn of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).



Leigh Scanlon

Psychology | Mental Health

Leigh Scanlon is a psychology major from California.  Leigh interned with Conor during the summer of 2015 and has a focused interest in the relationship between 22q and mental health.  Leigh has been working on a detailed case study of 22q and has already completed some very useful work that will be easily translated to the early years setting.  This research takes a holistic look at the case study of a young boy with a diagnosis of 22q and his younger brother who does not have 22q.  From graphical representation of data collected nfrom the boys’ creche, Leigh has been able to identify key characteristics that may aid in the identification of of common 22q traits (e.g., speech and language, food).  Leigh will continue her contribution to the research from California, and will continue working on the case study and the mental health agenda that the research programme will explore.



Clair Breen








Behavioural Insights





Crowd sourcing

crowd funding


Theories … nudge, ql, Bronfenbrenner,  stress / coping …..







“Small but MASSIVE”

I have always admired the strapline of “Small But MASSIVE” and first encountered it when I saw it being used by a great musical talent from the South Derry area of Northern Ireland where I am from.  I knew Paddy Glasgow when I was a schoolboy and starting that period of adolescence where music becomes the soundtrack to your understanding of life.

As much as myself and my counterparts thought that we knew about music, our knowledge was very definitely in the minor league compared to Paddy Glasgow.  To me, it seemed that Paddy was born “hard-wired” for music, and I am so very happy and proud of the success that Paddy has enjoyed.

Just like outdoor music festivals have grown in size and scale, with outrageous prices and diminished music quality, Paddy started the “Glasgowbury” music festival in his native Draperstown.  Now, to be honest, many people would rightly wonder why a music festival in the “back end of nowhere” could be successful, but I am convinced that Paddy’s integrity towards music and people have allowed Glasgowbury to flourish and grow beyond what was first envisaged.

I am more than happy here to be able to recognise Paddy Glasgow’s great contribution to music in Northern Ireland.  I also extend a very grateful thanks to Paddy, and all associated with him, for the title of this national landmark research programme into 22q.

“Small but MASSIVE”

Thanks Paddy  🙂