Health and Wellness Tips for People with Developmental Disabilities in the New Year
January 12, 2012 Prism Newsletter
By Jennifer Sladen
The holidays have ended – the leftovers in the fridge have made their last appearance, the party hats from New Year’s Eve have been worn, and we are all getting back to the normal pace of life. However, one last hurdle remains: making our New Year’s resolutions. This weekend, mine became apparent after one horrifying moment. I stepped onto my bathroom scale, and I was shocked by how much weight I had put on during the holidays. Once I recovered, I decided to try and make my life a bit healthier by re-committing myself to exercising more and choosing better foods to eat.
As I was thinking about my own resolution and reading information about ways to promote wellness, I was reminded again about how inaccessible wellness can be for people with autism and other intellectual/developmental disabilities. According to health reports, people with intellectual/developmental disabilities may feel excluded from the national campaigns that support wellness, and health care professionals may be less willing to accept them as patients because they have different challenges.
In our country, we often talk about how there is an obesity epidemic and about steps needed to resolve them. However, we need to make sure that we are including everyone and encouraging all people take part in having better health. Evidence shows that poor diet and obesity are more common for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities, including autism. It is estimated that 29.5 percent to 50.5 percent of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities are obese. A factor that also plays into this is that people with autism and intellectual/developmental disabilities often exercise less and less regularly. Only 10 percent of adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities engage in physical activity regularly, and 50 percent of adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities do not exercise at all.
This year, I will be working to improve my own health, and I am making a resolution here at the Autism NOW Center to do more to help provide information and resources so that people with autism and other intellectual/developmental disabilities and their families and loved ones can take better charge of their own health and wellness. As a first step to achieving this, I am including some information below that people can use about healthy diets and fitness. I hope that if your resolution includes better health and wellness for yourself or a loved one, that these resource help you to find information to achieve your goal!
- Centers for Disease Control – People with Disabilities – Living Healthy
- Health.gov – Physical Activity Guidelines
- US Department of Agriculture – Choose My Plate
- The University of Montana Rural Institute – Eat Well to Feel Well – Your Plan for Good Health!
- National Center on Physical Activity and Disability – Health Promotion – Autism and Nutrition
- The University of Montana Rural Institute – Nutrition Standards of Care for Use by Personal Assistants, Service Providers, Healthcare Providers, Nutrition Professionals, and Family Members
Jennifer Sladen is the Program Associate for the Autism NOW Center.