Health promotion: strategies for supporting students with intellectual and developmental disabilities

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Perry, Naomi
The health of today's youth is a growing concern and students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) are at greater risk due to sensory issues and pre-existing health issues that impact food related behaviours. Home Economics teachers face many challenges when it comes to supporting health promotion efforts in their schools and classrooms yet their role in these efforts is crucial in order to effectively foster and promote healthy eating and healthy habits. This study explored the question: What do Home Economics teachers know and need to know about supporting health promotion for students with IDD? Using a needs assessment methodology, I explored participants' current practice and compared the results with knowledge about 'best practice' from current literature in the field in order to investigate what could be done to improve health promotion for students with IDD. Themes investigated through coding and descriptive statistics were knowledge about students with IDD, the role of health and healthy food choices, long term health outcomes, teaching strategies and lessons, food literacy and essential skills, challenges and barriers to health promotion, and curriculum and guidelines related to food and health. One of the study's key findings is that in order to implement effective health promotion strategies and interventions, Home Economics teachers need more opportunities to collaborate with colleagues, families, and the community, as well as more professional development specific to addressing health, healthy eating, and cooking skills for students with IDD through the use of Evidence-Based Practices (EBPs).
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