To help assist you in your goal of providing meaningful and effective intellectual disability services, we’ve gathered insight on some of the best tools, approaches, and practices.

We hope the following documentation will help you in understanding intellectual disability and how a person-centered approach to health and wellness can make all of the difference in supporting those with IDD.

Diagnosing intellectual disability is just the start of providing adequate support. IDD services help address the unique needs of these individuals, with data-driven tools that allow those with IDD to live more productive and more independent lives.

What Does IDD Stand For?

An IDD, or intellectual-developmental disability, involves differences in a person’s intellectual functioning as well as limitations in social and practical daily life skills. These symptoms are usually present at birth or appear at an early age and are considered to be life-long.

Cardiologist listens to the heart of a child with Down syndrome, the concept of health and medical examination of children with special needs
Interesting Facts About Intellectual Disabilities

There are a lot of misconceptions about those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To help spread awareness, we’ve compiled some facts to help set the record straight.

two ladies playing with dog


  • In the United States, a conservative estimate is that 4.6 million people in the US have been diagnosed with a disability. Some studies indicate that the number is much higher. 

  • To date, we’ve discovered more than 250 different causes of intellectual disabilities.

  • Genetics are behind IDDs in just 25% of cases.

  • Among adults with intellectual disabilities, 92% live independently or with family members.

Having an intellectual or developmental disability doesn’t mean that someone is unable to live a full life. What it does mean however is that specialized support is often required, including a person-centered thinking approach that allows those with IDD to have a voice in their support decisions.

In addition to offering tools for the support of people with IDD—including the widely used Health Risk Screening Tool —we’re proud to contribute to the discourse with articles and resources that provide key insights on ensuring people with an intellectual disability receive the best support and healthcare possible.


An assessment is crucial in diagnosing and serving the needs of individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability.

Diagnostic Assessments

A diagnostic assessment is designed to define an individual with IDD’s specific needs, including both their limitations and their strengths. This assessment is the foundation for providing all affected individuals with the proper level of support.

Service Assessments

Service assessments take the diagnostic assessment a step further by providing the information that’s essential for personalized support. These include health recommendations based on an individual’s specific risk factors and qualifications.

Free Downloadable Resources

Long-haul COVID in People with IDD

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are at a greater risk of infection and poorer COVID-19 related health outcomes than the general population. Prevalence of comorbidities, living in congregate settings, and difficulties practicing preventative measures contribute to this risk; however, the inability to effectively communicate symptoms of illness may be the most significant hurdle to identifying and managing symptoms of COVID-19 infection, especially for those experiencing the lasting effects of long-haul COVID.

Download our six-page informational packet on long-haul COVID signs and symptoms in people with IDD.

Always refer to the policies and guidelines of your agency and state.

Tips for Safely Assisting with Medication Usage

Many staff and family members are called upon to assist people with taking their medications. Medications have many useful benefits. It is vital to ensure that they are used safely and to monitor for any adverse effects to help people receive the most benefit with the least risk. Download this pdf for some important safety tips.

Always refer to the policies and guidelines of your agency and state.

Pressure Injuries in People with IDD

Some people with IDD may have physical or communication differences that make them more susceptible to skin pressure injuries. The information in this 15 page pdf pamphlet is presented to help supporters understand, identify, and prevent pressure injuries in people with IDD.

The Great Outdoors - Cold Weather Edition

Outdoor activities are an important part of life. Here is an informational pdf containing helpful data for you and the people you support with disabilities to consider to make the great outdoors more enjoyable for all during the colder weather months.

The Great Outdoors - Warm Weather Edition

Outdoor activities are an important part of life. Here is an informational pdf containing helpful data for you and the people you support with disabilities to consider to make the great outdoors more enjoyable for all during the warmer weather.

Clinical Pearl #30 - Down Syndrome

Click to download this free pdf of Clinical Pearl #30: Down Syndrome from “Clinical Pearls in IDD Healthcare” to help provide better healthcare to those you support. Share it with providers and clinicians.

Click here to purchase the book “Clinical Pearls in IDD Healthcare”. 

HRST Health Passport

Besides providing basic health information, this fillable pdf can be utilized to convey important social information that facilitates knowing and understanding a person.

Download this fillable PDF and start using it today!

IntellectAbility Articles

Unlocking Behaviors: Head-Banging

Unlocking Behaviors: Head-Banging Co-written by Risley “Ley” Linder, MA, MED, BCBA & Craig Escudé, MD, FAAFP, FAADMPublished by Helen Journal This article is part of a co-authored series on behavioral presentations in which a physician and a behavior analyst provide insight into real-life case studies to share their expertise on how behavioral issues can be addressed in an interdisciplinary fashion.  Sarah is a 45-year-old woman with a severe intellectual disability. She has lived in the same group home for 12 years, longer than any of her current support staff has worked there. She is described as mostly cooperative but not very interactive with others. She does not use words to communicate but can usually indicate her preferences and needs with gestures. She is a picky eater, and her support staff has reported that occasionally, Sarah will hit herself in the
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Health-related Resources for people with IDD and Their Supporters

Health-related Resources for People with IDD and Their Supporters By Craig Escudé, MD, FAAFP, FAADM Published by EP Magazine  |  January 2023 With significant health disparities noted in people with IDD, it is important that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), their supporters, and healthcare providers educate themselves on the different health risks that are more commonly seen in
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Health Risk Informed Telemedicine and How it Benefits People with IDD

What is Health Risk Informed Telemedicine and How Can it Benefit the People You Support By Lorene Reagan, Director of Public Relations, IntellectAbility  Janet is a 50-year-old woman who has a history of urinary tract infections. It’s Saturday afternoon, and she’s complaining of pain with urination and refused to eat her lunch earlier in the day. The group home staff
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The Health Risk Screening Tool (HRST): Aspiration

Why Doesn’t the HRST Concern Itself with Aspiration? Actually, it does. Several of the Rating Items on the HRST cover each of the areas of risk associated with aspiration.   Item A. Eating – Identifies those who are fed via a tube or have significant risks or supports in place to eat safely.   Item B. Ambulation – (Yes, Ambulation) tells you
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Diagnostic Overshadowing – A Danger to People with IDD

Diagnostic Overshadowing – A Danger to People with IDD By Craig Escudé, MD, FAAFP, FAADM | November 2022 | 8 Minute Read As published in Exceptional Parent Magazine, a publication providing practical advice, emotional support, and the most up-to-date educational information for families of children and adults with disabilities and special healthcare needs. We invite you to subscribe by visiting their
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Advancing Health Equity For People With Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities

By Dr. Craig Escudé  |  Oct. 20, 2022   |  7.5 Minute Read As published on Health Affairs Forefront  There are numerous health inequities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). They experience lower rates of preventive screening; higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease; lower life expectancy; and higher rates of pregnancy complications. If that’s not enough, they have
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Who knows best what’s right for me? Me or You?

DISCERNING THE PROPER BALANCE BETWEEN WHAT IS IMPORTANT FOR A PERSON AND WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO A PERSON    |   6 MIN READ By Dr. Craig Escudé, MD, FAAFP, FAADM Published by Helen: The Journal of Human Exceptionality Issue No. 5 – October 2022, pg 36 Who knows best what’s right for me? Me or You? The answer is likely
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