The Shriver Center has developed a research program in health and wellness focused on children with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) which includes epidemiological, observational, and intervention projects. With funding from NIH, MCHB, and private foundations our programs focus on weight loss, diet, physical activity, and physical fitness in children with autism spectrum disorders, IDD, and other special health care needs. Learn more about our current research projects.
One of our current programs, Health U., is focused on nutrition education, and is aimed at teenagers and their families.
Health U.: A Nutrition Curriculum for Teenagers with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities
Developed by researchers and clinicians at UMass Medical School/E.K. Shriver Center.
The Health U. curriculum is designed to be taught by registered dietitians or educators who have had college-level courses in nutrition. It contains age-appropriate nutrition education materials for adolescents and young adults with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. The goal of the Health U. program is to encourage a healthy lifestyle and includes 10 lessons, each of which provides a short discussion where new concepts are introduced, an activity that provides hands-on learning, time to engage in movement/physical activity, and a "taste test" that encourages expansion of students' food repertoires.
Additional informational resources about healthy lifestyles, healthy weight, and health promotion for people with disabilities
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Healthy Weight Issue Briefs
The CDC's issue briefs describe what people and organizations can do to help combat obesity among people with disabilities and assist them in achieving healthy weight and an improved quality of life.
National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability (NCHPAD)
NCHPAD's mission is to effect change in health promotion/obesity management among people with disabilities through advocacy, services, and programs that reach numerous organizations and people throughout the country. NCHPAD's primary focus is to collaborate with the nation's leading health advocacy and disability organizations in linking them to program initiatives ongoing across the nation with the aim of building inclusion and integration into existing programs.
Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Developmental Disabilities and Health (RRTCDD)
Information on health status, health access, and health behaviors of adults with I/DD, strategies to improve health and function among people with IDD through health promotion interventions, and how to improve health care access through integrated care practices. Includes information on aging with developmental disabilities, disability friendly environments, and caregiver support.
Special Olympics is a leading name in health promotion for people of all ages with intellectual disabilities. Through sports training and competition, children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities are empowered to become "physically fit, productive and respected members of society."
Provides physician-approved health information for children and adolescents. Created by The Nemours Foundation's Center for Children's Health Media, KidsHealth provides families with accurate, up-to-date and easy-to-understand health information.
Kid's Quest on Disability and Health
Early adolescents with and without disabilities can go on a guided "Quest" to learn about life with disabilities and some of the issues related to daily activities, health and accessibility. Hosted by the CDC's National Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities Center.
A Web site for learning, connecting, growing, coping and fun for young people with disabilities and their Peers. Maintained by the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY)
A site created to help girls (ages 10-16) learn about the topics of health, illness and disability in ways that they can relate to and draw motivation from. It is a project of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.
Health Matters: The Exercise and Nutrition Health Education Curriculum for People with Developmental Disabilities
A research-based, field-tested program composed of 59 one-hour sessions for professionals to implement to help adults with disabilities make the best choices about health, exercise, and nutrition.
The Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project (DRRP) II
The specific aim of DRRPII is to develop a set of methods and criteria that can be used to systematically identify, adapt, and modify recognized evidence-based obesity prevention and reduction strategies and programs for youth and young adults with disabilities from culturally diverse backgrounds. The purpose of the adaptive strategies is to promote inclusion in community health promotion programs for this population.