Mothers Activities and Participation Study (MAPS)


The Mothers Activities and Participation Study (MAPS) addresses the serious social isolation, disadvantage and poorer health experienced by mothers with intellectual disability.


Professor Gwynnyth Llewellyn

Research Location

Disability and Community Research Group

Program Type



The Australian Family and Disability Studies Research Collaboration along with the Parenting Research Centre, Victoria constitute the Australian Supported Parenting Consortium. This Consortium was awarded over $5 million from the Department of Family Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Grant to conduct a national project: Healthy Start. A National Strategy for Children of Parents with Learning Difficulties ( which aims to build child and parent support capacity in families, practitioners and the health and social welfare sectors across Australia.

The Mothers Activities and Participation Study (MAPS) focuses on three critical issues in the lives of mothers with intellectual disability: serious social isolation, community disadvantage and poorer health because each is known to have significant effect on child outcomes and prevention measures are urgently needed. One component of the overall program of research to address this problem has been completed in the Australian Supported Learning Program. Information about this program can be found by accessing Publications include: McConnell, D., Llewellyn, G., Dalziel, A., Laidlaw, K., & Hindmarsh, G. (2009). Strengthening the social relationships of mothers with learning difficulties. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 37(1), 66-75; and McConnell, D., & Llewellyn, G. (2010). Supporting mothers’ community participation (pp. 205-224). In G. Llewellyn, R. Traustadottir, D. McConnell, & H. Sigurjonsdottir (Eds.), Parents with intellectual disabilities. Past, present and futures. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. The resources developed to date are being trialled in national strategies in other countries including the Netherlands, Canada and Sweden.

The MAPS provides current opportunities for PhD projects on social participation of mothers with intellectual disability and their children. A current PhD study is exploring the social participation (and possible isolation) of the children of parents with intellectual disability. Leading on from this project there will be opportunities to design and implement social participation programs for the children of parents with intellectual disability. There are also opportunities to evaluate, using a randomised control trial, at least two approaches to social participation programs for mothers with intellectual disability (and their partners) in comparison with usual practice. Areas for exploration also include: the effectiveness of individual vs group interventions; mother and family interventions; and engaging the community in supporting mothers with intellectual disabilities and their children. Another current PhD study is examining health and well-being outcomes for the children of mothers with intellectual disability. Leading on from this there will be opportunities to examine ways in which the early years of children of parents with intellectual disability may be enhanced to ensure the best possible outcomes later in life.

Additional Information

  1. Social participation
    1. The effectiveness of individual vs group interventions
    2. Mother and family interventions
    3. Engaging the community
  2. Maternal health literacy
    1. Assessment and intervention
    2. Resources for pregnancy, childhood and adolescence
  3. Antenatal policy and practice
    1. Policy effects on cognitively impaired and socially disadvantaged clients
    2. Development of models of care, focusing on pathways in and out of care
The Faculty of Health Sciences offers postgraduate scholarships to eligible students with two application rounds each year (

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Disability, Disability studies, Family, health literacy, Antenatal care, Health and social welfare policy, Health and social welfare service utilization and outcomes, Early intervention and prevention in families, Behavioural & psychiatric disorders, Counselling & patient support, Health system research, Professional practice, Public health & social medicine

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 71