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Dr Vaso Totsika
Wing B
Maple House
Tottenham Court Road
Dr Vaso Totsika profile picture
  • Associate Professor in Intellectual Developmental Disability
  • Epidemiology & Applied Clinical Research
  • Division of Psychiatry
  • Faculty of Brain Sciences

My area of research is the psychology of developmental disabilities, in particular intellectual disability and autism. My research spans mental health, education, and social care, as I am interested in intellectual disability and autism across the lifespan. The social environment of the child (family or school) or the adult (family or residential settings) with intellectual disability and/or autism is crucial for supporting the person to achieve a good quality of life, but also in its own right as families or teachers and carers of people with intellectual disability or autism face unique challenges and experiences.

A large part of my recent work is concerned with early intervention across two main axes:

  1. Describing strengths and needs in individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism across the population, and employing longitudinal research to understand the trajectories of social skills, adaptive skills, behaviour problems and mental health in children with intellectual disabilities and/or autism.
  2. Improving access to early support through better understanding of support access pathways, and development and testing of supports for people with intellectual disability or autism. 

I work collaboratively with families and individuals with intellectual disability and/or autism as well as partners in special education, family support services, and social care to address questions that have the potential to improve the support experiences of children and adults with intellectual disability or autism and those of their families. In this example of a recent collaborative knowledge translation booklet, colleagues from the University of Warwick and I worked together with three charity partners and many parents of young children to translate and make relevant to families findings from over 10 years research in intellectual disability and autism.

I joined the Division of Psychiatry in 2018, moving from a post as Associate Professor at the University of Warwick. I was at Warwick between 2013 and 2018. Prior to this, I was a Lecturer and Research Tutor in the North Wales Clinical Psychology Programme (2010-2013).

Research Themes
Research Summary
  • Intellectual disability and/or autism
  • Well-being of children with intellectual disability/autism: mental health, behaviour problems, challenging behaviour, social skills, well-being
  • Families of children with intellectual disability/autism: parental mental health, parenting, parent-child relationship
  • Well-being of adults with intellectual disability: quality of life, activity engagement, living environments

My research often tries to describe complex developmental processes by drawing on population-based and/or longitudinal data. I am also interested in understanding how to better support people with intellectual disability, their families and carers through intervention evaluation.

Teaching Summary

In UCL, I lead a module on neurodevelopmental conditions, as part of the MSc Mental Health Sciences (Division of Psychiatry). I supervise PhD students doing research in intellectual disability and/or autism. 

Current PhDs:

  • Parental mental health and parenting in families with a child with developmental disabilities
  • A meaningful and engaged life for individuals with intellectual disabilities 
  • Quality of Life in adults with intellectual disability and how best to measure it
  • Core Outcome Set for Relationship and Sex Education evaluations in special schools for students with an intellectual disability.

I would be interested in hearing from prospective PhD students interested in projects in the areas outlined under Research Summary.

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