Current Studies
Wayfinding study
This study is being conducted by Dr. Ed Merrill at the University of Alabama and is designed to look at how individuals learn to navigate through an environment, a skill known as wayfinding. Past research has shown that wayfinding is difficult for individuals with intellectual disability. This study will help researchers understand how wayfinding knowledge develops with the long-term goal of developing ways of training individuals with difficulty in this area.
Signs of Cognitive Change in Adolescents and Young Adults with Down Syndrome
This study will be conducted by the Conners Lab at the University of Alabama as a pilot study for a potential grant-funded study in the future. One characteristic of Down syndrome is accelerated aging, which can include declines in memory and other cognitive skills. Another is heightened risk for Alzheimer’s Dementia. In this study, we are trying to identify very early signs of cognitive change in people with Down syndrome. Identifying these could lead to future treatments that could slow the decline. The goals of the study are 1) to identify early changes in memory and language, 2) to identify early behavioral changes (like sleep patterns and social engagement), and 3) to link the first two goals to symptoms of mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment is a diagnosable condition and a risk factor for Alzheimer’s Dementia.

Well-being and the Social Experiences of Adolescents with Down syndrome
Research shows that children and adolescents with intellectual disability are at a higher risk to experience peer victimization compared to their typically developing peers. This stud develops measures for this population that will be used in future research on the possible consequences of peer victimization, such as anxiety, depression, acting out, etc. The information learned in this study will used to obtain federal funding for a larger study. The study focuses on adolescents with Down syndrome age 11-17.