SOUTH BEND - The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $3.5 million grant to the William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families at the University of Notre Dame. The grant will help fund a project to evaluate the effectiveness of intervention programs used to support families that include someone with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

The project, known as Supporting Parent-Adolescent Relationships and Communication, will study 150 couples and their children in South Bend and Fort Wayne. The families will "receive information about communication, conflict resolution and the role family conflict plays in child and adolescent development."

"We are excited to work with so many wonderful families from two communities in Northern Indiana and look forward to learning a lot from them," said Mark Cummings, professor of Psychology at Notre Dame. "We’ve had great feedback and very promising results from an earlier, related study and are very optimistic that we will be able to provide an easily accessible program that families will enjoy, and that will make a significant difference in supporting families with children with developmental disabilities in the opportunities and challenges they face daily."

Joshua John Diehl, chief strategy officer for autism services at LOGAN Community Resources Inc. in South Bend, says the study will have an immediate, direct impact on the community and will "create a sustainable program that will be available to families long after the research has been completed." Cummings and Diehl are collaborating on the study.