iRT is expanding research on adolescents with an intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) with funding from the Administration for Community Living supporting a study on teaching mindfulness, via a novel, online mindfulness program, to adolescents with 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11DS).

The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) awarded iRT with a grant (90BISB0016-01-00) to create a program that can help reduce anxiety and improve coping with everyday stressors among teens with 22q11DS in an attempt to fill the gap of available, non-pharmacological interventions for adolescents in this population.

Program development will build upon a previous pilot study, also funded by NIDILRR, that demonstrated the usability of the Aware program, developed based upon the neurodevelopmental capabilities of teens with this disorder. The original study provided useful feedback from teens with 22q11DS and their parents about both the software, pedagogy, and content to best address the needs of youth in this population.

As part of this new project, iRT will gather input from a Parent Advisory Panel, conduct interviews with teens with 22q11DS and their parents about the program, as well as consult with neuropsychological, medical, and education experts to revise the program, and develop new components to support adoption, usage, and efficacy of the program. Once the program has been revised, a randomized controlled trial of the program’s efficacy will be conducted.

Alison Parker, the study’s principal investigator and a developmental psychologist at iRT, says “22q11DS is a common genetic disorder and youth with this disorder may experience difficulties with cognitive and social functioning throughout their lives, including experiencing high levels of anxiety. There is a need for more evidence-based behavioral interventions that try to improve the mental health and well-being of adolescents with 22q11DS. This study will further our research efforts to understand how mindfulness skills can be taught to teens with 22q11DS, which will ultimately help them be aware of and manage their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and cope with stress in a healthy way.”

iRT is dedicated to conducting research, and developing programs and services that improve the lives of youth, families, and communities. Janis Kupersmidt, the President of iRT and a co-investigator on this project, says “Creating a program that is both effective and engaging for teens with 22q11DS, and easy for their parents to monitor and support, furthers iRT’s mission to both contribute to the science on mindfulness and create evidence-based interventions to support healthy living in teens.”

For more information about this project, contact Dr. Parker. Learn more about iRT’s mindfulness programs. For more information about the Aware program, visit the Aware website.