BA (Hons); GradDipEd; MEdStud; MAppPsych; PhD


Professor Monica Cuskelly is a leading researcher in the area of intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who has made unique contributions to understanding the developmental trajectory of individuals with Down syndrome and the impact on families of having a member with an IDD. She is the inaugural Research Director of the Applied Research Centre in Disability and Wellbeing, an initiative of the University of Tasmania and Possability, a large Australian disability service provider.

Longitudinal research underpins much of Professor Cuskelly’s contributions to her field. She held the position of Director of the Down Syndrome Research Program at The University of Queensland for 13 years (and member for another 11). The centre-piece of this program has been a longitudinal study of the cognitive development of children with Down syndrome from birth. In addition, she, along with Professor Linda Gilmore, has a second longitudinal study which is focused on the development of self-regulation and its influences. Her work with families also has a longitudinal element, with the focus on sibling relationships. These programs of work have provided evidence that has helped to challenge myths about people with Down syndrome as well as uncovering some areas of learning/development that may be of particular importance in supporting positive outcomes. It has also demonstrated that siblings are generally not negatively affected by having a brother or sister with Down syndrome and that relationships are positive. 

Current work is focussed on understanding the impact of siblings on developmental outcomes of children with a disability, and the mechanisms of these influences. A second focus is on the lives of adults with intellectual disability, specifically on their social connections and experiences of loneliness. 

Professor, School of Education, University of Tasmania

Research Director, Applied Research Centre for Disability and Wellbeing

Member, Australian Psychological Society

Member, International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and developmental Disabilities

Member, Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability

1. Cuskelly, M. (2020). The roles of siblings in influencing the development of individuals with Down syndrome. In J. Burack, J. Edgin, L. Abbeduto, & J. Busciglio (Eds.) Oxford handbook of Down syndrome and development. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190645441.013.7

2. Cuskelly, M., Moni, K.B., McMahon, M, Jobling, A., Lloyd, J. & Leggatt-Cook, C. (2020). Future of adults with intellectual disability: Staff expectations. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability. DOI: 10.3109/13668250.2020.1814490

3. Cuskelly, M., Gilmore, L., Glenn, S., Jobling, A. (2016). A comparison study of delay of gratification in children with Down syndrome, children with a moderate intellectual disability and children developing typically. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 60, 865-873. doi: 10.1111/jir.12262

4. Gilmore, L & Cuskelly, M. (2014). Vulnerability to loneliness in people with intellectual disability: An explanatory model. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disability, 11, (3), 192-199. doi:10.111/jppi12089 

5. Mann, G., Cuskelly, M. & Moni, K.B. (2018). An investigation of parents’ decisions to transfer their children from regular to special schools. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 15, 183-192. doi: 10.1111/jppi.12238