The IntellectAbility Story

Health and wellness thrive in the absence of uncertainty, misinformation, and risk. While this is true for everyone in every stage of life, it is particularly true for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Understanding this is vital for those entrusted to support people in living lives they love.

This is what inspired us to create the first and most comprehensive suite of risk resolution and learning tools for professional supporters: tools that empower, educate and inform those responsible for protecting, maintaining and restoring health, wholeness and a good quality of life for people with IDD. Essentially, we support those who support others. 

IntellectAbility educates and empowers support teams, administrators and clinicians with necessary and proven tools for early risk detection replacing risk with health and wellness.

This is why IntellectAbility is the most trusted, leading authority and resource in the field. Our mission is more than risk reduction. It’s replacing risk with life.

Karen Green McGowen, center left, 1985

Karen Green McGowan began her career in nursing in 1963 when she graduated from Methodist Hospital School (now college) of Nursing in Omaha, Nebraska. She joined the United States Air Force and served as a labor and delivery nurse at Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Montana.

Her career in the field of intellectual and neurodevelopmental disabilities began at Glenwood State Hospital School, in Glenwood, Iowa, beginning in 1965. In 1972 she transitioned more than 60 children out of Nebraska’s Beatrice State Home into the community over the next several years.

Glenwood State Hospital School

Karen’s specialty has been with persons labeled medically complex, often labeled (without justification) with profound and severe intellectual disability. She has been a clinical nurse consultant since 1977 and provided technical assistance to more than 40 states and 9 Canadian provinces. She has also served as a technical consultant to the Disability Rights International organization and assisted in assessing needs of physically and mentally challenged persons in Romania, Serbia, the Republic of Georgia, Mexico and Ukraine.

Ms. McGowan has served as an Expert Witness in a number of class action and right to treatment court cases, specifically in Louisiana, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, North Dakota and New York among others. She has authored a number of developmental disabilities training manuals for clinicians such as nurses, physicians, therapists and direct care professionals, particularly in the area of Physical and Nutritional Management.

In 1992, while working as part of a federal review panel, she became the lead developer of The Health Risk Screening Tool (HRST) (formerly known as the Physical Status Review), which has become an industry leader in identifying and managing health risks in vulnerable populations.

On January 1, 2015 she assumed the presidency of the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association (national) and has since retired this position.