Enhanced Skills Program: Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Program Goals & Objectives

Medical Expert

Develop appropriate skills and competencies towards becoming a medical expert in the care of individuals with IDD throughout the lifespan by gaining clinical experience in this field:

  • Integrate the Canadian Consensus Guidelines for the Primary Health Care of Adults with IDD in clinical reasoning
  • Perform a developmentally-focused history and medical consultation considering medical conditions and psychosocial issues that are more common in this population
  • Develop a systematic approach to assessing patients with IDD who present with an undifferentiated problem or with behaviours that challenge
  • Understand which medical conditions are more common in this population, including health conditions associated with IDD of known etiology
  • Adapt the diagnostic lens for common and treatable physical and mental health disorders with atypical symptom presentations for patients with severe communication impairments and IDD
  • Gain experience and comfort prescribing medications commonly used in patients with IDD
  • In IDD of known etiology, use the diagnosis for anticipatory and preventive care; understand specific investigations/screening considerations related to specific syndromes
  • Complete a comprehensive health check in a patient with IDD
  • Identify and utilize developmental, behavioural, educational and medical interventions for individuals with IDD
  • Adjust the clinical and physical environment (e.g., removes barriers to physical exams) to ensure patient comfort, considering their developmental, sensory and motor abilities


Medical Expert

Develop appropriate skills and competencies to become an effective communicator with a patient with IDD and their families, showing respect and empathy:

  • Use appropriate communication skills needed to work with people with IDD and their families and understand specific speech-language, communication and cognitive difficulties and abilities in this population
  • Use alternative ways to communicate with a person with IDD and learn to adapt your communication to the unique abilities of an individual patient with IDD
  • Recognize and consider cultural, religious, societal and gender differences that may influence the therapeutic relationship and family/individual decision making
  • Manage communication challenges that may arise during clinical encounters and clarify miscommunication in a culturally and developmentally appropriate manner
  • Assess the capacity and the level of support needed for various health care decisions, with patients and their supports
  • Involve parents/caregivers in communication/encounters while also respecting the rights and capabilities of the patient with IDD



Develop appropriate skills and competencies to be a collaborator when caring for patients with IDD and their families:

  • Understand when other health professionals (e.g. behavior therapist, psychologist, social worker, and occupational therapist) may be helpful in managing a clinical concern with a patient with IDD
  • Involve parents, caregivers and other members of the individual with IDD’s team in clinical encounters to help with collateral information and diagnostic clarification
  • Participate in team meetings for patients with IDD to provide integrated and comprehensive care
  • Communicate effectively and appropriately with team members to assess, plan and provide integrated care for patients with IDD and their families 

  • Collaborate with others in the field through involvement in research, quality improvement, or capacity building initiatives or other scholarly activities



Develop appropriate skills and competencies to act as a leader and manager for people with IDD and their families and in your role as a physician in general:

  • Manage common or important problems in patients with DD, with support from specialists as needed
  • Assist with the coordination of care for a person with IDD, acting as the patient’s medical home
  • Learn to balance time between clinical, administrative and personal commitments to prevent physician burnout and assess priorities
  • Participate in quality improvement initiatives to improve care for patients with IDD and utilize/create IDD-specific tools and resources to help better manage care for individuals with IDD



Develop appropriate skills for scholarly activities related to caring for people with IDD and their families:

  • Participate in research initiatives focusing on the care of children, adolescents or adults with IDD and to create resources and tools for primary care providers to assist with the care of patients with IDD
  • Develop the skills to teach future medical learners interested in the care of patients with IDD
  • Contribute to curriculum development or teaching related to IDD at U of T’s medical school
  • Participate in ongoing continuing medical education activities related to caring for individuals with IDD


Health Advocate

Develop the necessary skills and competencies to become a health advocate for individuals with IDD and their families:

  • Assist patient and their families during significant transition periods across the lifespan
    • Transitioning from pediatric to adult services
    • Transitioning out of high school
    • Transitioning to assisted living
    • Transitioning to palliative care
  • Advocate for your patients when they may need crisis intervention supports
  • Assist patients and their families through educating them on financial and social assistance options
  • Identify various community services and resources available for individuals with IDD and their families to help support complex developmental, behavioural and unique familial needs that may arise
  • Understand and identify key social determinants of health that influence the health and wellbeing of people with IDD
  • Advocate for your patients’ best interests when making clinical decisions and support them through their decision-making process



Exhibit appropriate professional behavior in clinical encounters and outside of medical settings:

  • Act professionally with integrity, honesty, compassion, commitment, and patience in all clinical encounters
  • Treat patients, families, colleagues, other team members and caregivers with respect
  • Understand and maintain professional boundaries with patients and families
  • Display awareness of personal limitations and ask for assistance/guidance when needed