Mar 13, 2024 - Health

Health groups aim to improve care for people with intellectual disabilities

Illustration of an upward arrow shaped clip on name tag that says in training

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Most health providers get very little training on how to care for the millions of Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but a new coalition is trying to change that.

Why it matters: Americans with intellectual or developmental disabilities including autism, Down syndrome and ADHD have more unmet health needs than their peers.

  • Lack of education on how to best care for them perpetuates these health disparities, researchers say.

What they did: A new roadmap from the nonprofit Institute for Exceptional Care — which convened health care providers, professional organizations and patient advocates — outlines steps various parts of the health care system can take.

  • It suggests regulators can require that clinicians take continuing education courses on caring for patients with disabilities to maintain their licenses or board certifications, and that educational associations can make these courses free.
  • Professional societies can create checklists for clinicians on creating disability-friendly health care environments.
  • Accrediting organizations can also develop tools to certify facilities as inclusive.

The coalition includes groups such as Autistic Doctors International, the Association of American Medical Colleges and Special Olympics International.

Flashback: The National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency, in a 2022 report called for comprehensive disability care education in all U.S. medical, nursing and health professional schools.

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