The Salvesen Mindroom Research Centre was created in 2015, following a donation from AEH Salvesen Trust. The gift was given to develop a programme of combined research and practice work that would benefit children and young people with learning difficulties and their families.
The founding remit of the Centre was to:
- Describe and understand learning difficulties in detail
- Develop new tools to aid in diagnosis, intervention and teaching, and to evaluate whether these are working
- Translate research into effective solutions for doctors, teachers, therapists and parents, that promote learning and community participation
- Benefit children and young people with learning difficulties, and their families
One of the earliest, flagship projects from the Centre was a research priority-setting exercise with the James Lind Alliance - the work of the SMRC is now governed by these priorities for learning difficulties research.
This project embodies the core values of the SMRC:
- Directed by community priorities
- Working in partnership with practitioners, young people, and families
- Delivering highest-quality, world-leading research
- Disseminating knowledge globally, while implementing findings locally
- Sharing our knowledge with other scientists, and nurturing the research field
- Using resources to maximum effect
Our vision is for a world where neurodivergent people easily thrive in school, at work and beyond.
We want to ensure that neurodivergent children and young people (whether they have a diagnosis or not) have every opportunity to thrive, before they start school, while they’re in education, and beyond. Differences in how people learn should be understood, embraced and accommodated, enabling people to have an enriching educational experience, and to fulfil their potential.
To achieve this, we believe that we need to deliver neurodiversity-affirmative education, health and social care services, workplaces, and society. Features of a neurodiversity-affirmative context would include:
- anticipating diversity instead of treating differences as exceptional and inconvenient
- rejecting normalisation – supporting people to follow their own path to a unique destination rather than pushing for people to be more similar
- co-production, so that services are informed and made by the people who use them, and we all benefit from a rich array of perspectives when we create new things
- working actively to combat stigma, so that neurodivergent people feel confident to be themselves, and values we all share (kindness, justice) are upheld
The SMRC uses research from a range of academic subject areas to generate new fundamental knowledge, and translate this into measures to improve the lives of neurodivergent children and young people, ultimately enabling them to prosper.
The University of Edinburgh
The Salvesen Mindroom Research Centre is part of the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. The core team of researchers are split across two locations, reflecting the wide-ranging nature of the research. Our primary location and contact address is at Child Life and Health, in the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People. A secondary location is at the Division of Psychiatry, in Kennedy Tower at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.
Core subject areas for the Centre include psychology, public health, education, paediatric medicine and psychiatry.
Research at the centre uses the following methods to generate new knowledge and inform practice:
- Cohort studies and primary data - Working directly with children and young people to assess their developing skills and experiences across childhood, adolescence and into adulthood
- Consultations, surveys, focus groups and interviews - Asking people directly about their opinions, experiences and attitudes, sometimes face-to-face, and sometimes online.
- Experimental designs and observations - Creating carefully managed tests to explore diversity in thinking abilities and interactions – including working with babies and very young children.
- Analysis of routine and secondary data - Looking at information collected by clinics, schools or community services to find out how whole generations of young people are learning, and to detect the effects of changes in policy.
- Measure development and validation - Creating new ways to measure the things that are important – like quality of life, or self-belief.
- Randomised controlled trials - This is the same method used to test whether a new drug is safe and effective. We use this method to test new ways of supporting children and young people with learning difficulties.
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Research Priorities for Learning Difficulties
University of Edinburgh, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences
University of Edinburgh, Child, Life and Health