Clinical Services

Good health affects nearly every aspect of daily life. The best possible health is necessary to lead the best possible life. This is no less true for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 


People with intellectual and developmental disabilities have historically had great difficulty obtaining high quality health care. A 2002 report by then Surgeon General identified numerous gaps in health services for people with IDD.  The report provided a blueprint for closing these gaps that included six broad goal areas:    

  • Health Promotion and Community Environments
  • Knowledge and Understanding
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Training of Health Care Providers
  • Health Care Financing
  • Sources of Health Care

The report went on to state that gaps in health services were even wider for people with co-occurring mental health disorders and intellectual disability.  Recommendations included increased research, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.  Years later, we are still working to close the health care gaps experienced by persons with IDD. 

This lack of high-quality health care has proliferated myths about the IDD population.  For example:

Myth: People with Down Syndrome (DS) do not live very far into adulthood. 
Fact: People with DS can live productively with a median life span of almost 57 years.

Myth:  People with IDD are destined to have poor health and a low quality of life. 
Fact:  When people with IDD have a foundation of optimal health they can live their best life.

The DIDD Clinical Services Division seeks to partner with community providers to break down these myths and help people with IDD optimize their health.   Health and clinical services significantly contribute to well-being, independence, and productivity. The DIDD Clinical Services Division has committed itself to increase access to high quality health services so that Tennesseans with disabilities have the opportunity for a prosperous and satisfying life.   



Office of the Surgeon General (US); National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (US); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US). Closing the Gap: A National Blueprint to Improve the Health of Persons with Mental Retardation: Report of the Surgeon General's Conference on Health Disparities and Mental Retardation. Washington (DC): US Department of Health and Human Services; 2002. Introduction. Available from: