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Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Talk About Health

Stories can change beliefs and alter perspectives.

By sharing the lived experiences of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in their own words, the PATH-PWIDD project seeks to inform and educate health care providers and caregivers who work with them. These narratives show the importance of friendships, hobbies, and interests in maintaining good health. They provide a glimpse into their active lives, of which an IDD diagnosis is but a small part.   

Understanding their full lived experiences can help providers provide better care to patients with IDD. When combined with systemic and educational changes, these narratives can transform how healthcare professionals treat people with IDD and improve the health outcomes they experience.

Why Good Health is Important

We asked some people with IDD what they do to stay healthy and why good health is important to them. Here are their answers in their own words.

Meet Anthony

Meet Anthony and learn why good health is an important part of his life.

Meet Tabatha

Meet Tabatha and find out how she takes care of her health.

Meet Steve

Meet Steve and learn how relaxation and self-expression are important parts of his health.

Meet Joe

Meet Joe and learn how people with IDD might need extra help staying healthy.

Meet Edwin

Meet Edwin and hear him talk about the importance of his family.

Meet Bridget

Actress, advocate, and speaker Bridget discusses the importance of good health and regular medical care. She shares the power of advocacy and inclusion in her life, including her experience as the first person with a disability in her school district.

Meet Chuy

Meet Chuy and learn about the importance of advocacy.

Meet Suzen

Meet Suzen, and discover how she encourages people with disabilities to participate in sports. Suzen also talks about how health care providers can improve their ability to work with people with disabilities.

Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and Caregivers

Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and caregivers talk about their experiences working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Meet Marcos

Marcos Herrera talks about his work with individuals with developmental disabilities, including wellness practices, meditation, and exercise. He discusses the importance of motivation and advocacy, as well as the benefits of working as a team.

Meet Liz

Liz, a direct service provider (DSP), discusses her work with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She talks about the daily work of being a DSP and the importance of treating those in her care with respect.

Meet Jim

Jim talks about his experiences raising a child with developmental disabilities. He talks about the care his son is receiving in his residential facility and the importance of working with the staff and direct service providers, whom he considers part of his son’s family.

Meet Barney

Marion “Barney” Barnhart describes his experiences working in a group home. As the person who prepared the meals for residents, he became interested in nutrition and helped residents learn about nutritious foods and healthy eating.