Calling all professionals working with adolescents and young adults with an Intellectual Disability

Sunbeam Trust and Parents Plus have announced their grant partnership offering free training places to professionals in the first evidence based parenting programme in the world for parents of adolescents with an Intellectual Disability –  The Parents Plus Special Needs Programme.  The partnership will see Sunbeam Trust fund the training of professionals delivering services to families of adolescents and young adults with an intellectual disability from the Wicklow area in this much needed support for families.

This Programme was developed to respond to the complex and under served needs of young people with an Intellectual Disability, 12 – 25 years, and their families.  Until now, there have been no tailored parenting programmes for parents of adolescents with an Intellectual Disability, to help them deal with the significant challenges they face during this time.  

The programme was developed by Parents Plus’s Professor John Sharry, Speech and Language Therapist Grainne Hampson and Assistant Psychologist Aoife O’ Leary, in partnership with families and with disability services across Ireland, and was part funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development, through the Scheme to Support National Organisations to address disadvantage and support social inclusion.

Eleanor Kent, Social Worker with CAMHS, who has trained in, and run this programme explains, “The Parents Plus Special Needs Programme is without doubt the solution to the crippling problems that many parents of adolescents and young adults with I.D. need. The programme will change the future for children with an I.D., their parents, their families and their communities. It should be compulsory and offered to every family affected by Intellectual Disability. It really is that important.”

The programme is strongly evidence-based.  In 2019/2020, in a large randomised controlled trial with the Department of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin, parents attending the Parents Plus Special Needs Programme reported significant improvements in:

  • Parenting practices
  • Problem behaviours
  • Parental satisfaction
  • Parental self-efficacy
  • Personal goal attainment

The ‘treatment as usual’ group remained the same on all primary outcome measures.

Sunbeam Trust, a registered charity dedicated to supporting developments that enable people with disabilities to maintain full and meaningful lives in their communities, will fund these training places through their grant partnership with Parents Plus.  Based in Co. Wicklow, the trusts focus is on developing partnerships with and funding projects that improve outcomes for individuals with an intellectual disability and their families

Trustee of Sunbeam Trust, and former Principal of Dalkey School Project National School, Chris Lennon adds, “The Trust are delighted to partner with Parents Plus on this first in the world initiative.  As someone who has worked in the area of special needs for many years, I welcome this valuable support for both parents of children with an intellectual disability and the professionals who work to support them.  It is vital that we ensure that parents receive tailored and relevant tools throughout the adolescent years.  The Parents Plus Special Needs Programme will give parents the tools and support that they need to positively manage the many challenges that are experienced during this time.”

The programme training will take place online over 3 days on the 15th, 16th and 21st of October 2020.  If you are a professional working with children, adolescents or young adults with an Intellectual Disability or their parents from Wicklow, or are running a Parent Led Support group for families with a child with an Intellectual Disability from Wicklow, and would like to apply for a sponsored training place on this programme, please email before Monday 10th of August at 5p.m.. 

The launch of this new programme will take place online on 18th September 2020.  You can register to attend by visiting 

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