The Mighty Logo

New Initiative Trains Doctors to Treat People With Developmental Disabilities

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

A new initiative, Partnering to Transform Health Outcomes with Persons with Intellectual Disabilities and Developmental Disabilities (PATH-PWIDD), will prepare doctors to better treat patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The initiative will first be implemented at five universities:

  • Rush University
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • St. John Fisher College
  • Villanova University
  • University of Minnesota.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living allocated $1.75 million for the initiative.

Unfortunately many medical schools do not include content about the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities into their curriculum for health care students. This all too often leads to poorer health outcomes. — Julie Hocker, commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities at the Administration for Community Living

The Frontlines: Research suggests that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities receive less care for and screenings for several health issues.

  • A 2005 report found that individuals with intellectual disability contact on average 50 physicians before they can find one who has been trained to treat people with disabilities.
  • A 2004 study found that people with developmental disabilities in North Carolina were less likely to receive adequate emotional and oral health care, as well as breast and cervical cancer screenings, than non-disabled people.

Get more on disability: Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

A Mighty Voice: Kaelynn Partlow, who is autistic, wrote about her good experience with a doctor who validated her after she panicked. “For the first time in my adult life, I was treated like a real adult by my doctor. You gave the information to me in a way I could not only understand, but in a way so I could make an informed choice for myself.” You can submit your first-person story, too.

From Our Community: 

Living with mosaic Down Syndrome as an adult #DownSyndrome

Other Things to Know: It can be hard to deal with doctors who have negative views about your disability or health condition or do not take you seriously. Read below to learn about harmful experiences that people with disabilities and their families have had that show why this initiative if so important:

How to Take Action: To learn more about the new PATH-PWIDD initiative, read about it on Rush University’s website.

Getty Images/golibtolibov

Originally published: December 11, 2020
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home