Special Olympics Research

Closing the Gap: A National Blueprint to Improve the Health of Persons with Mental Retardation*

"Closing the Gap: A National Blueprint to Improve the Health of Persons with Mental Retardation" is a 2002 report of the Surgeon General's Conference on Health Disparities and Mental Retardation: "Like other Americans, persons with mental retardation (MR)* grow up, grow old, and need good health and health care services in their communities...People with MR are remaining in their communities. In ever-increasing numbers, people with MR either do not enter institutions, or they leave them to live with their families or in other community settings, and they are determined to understand and take charge of their health. But in most cases, neither the education and training of health professionals nor other elements of the Nation's health system have been updated to reflect their progress. Especially as adolescents and adults, people with MR and their families face evergrowing challenges in finding and financing primary and specialty health care that responds both to the characteristics of MR and to the distinctive health care needs of each stage of life. 

"The purpose of this Blueprint is to set forth an agenda from the community for national, State, and local action, in both public and private sectors, to improve the health of individuals with MR and to include them fully in health systems that meet their needs. 

"Realizing the goals of this Blueprint calls for partnerships at all levels of public and private endeavor, from government agencies, legislatures, corporations, foundations, research and health care organizations, universities, and accreditation boards for health professions schools and training, to self-advocates, their families, local businesses and schools, voluntary, civic and faith-based organizations, individual clinical practices, and community-based health care services for other vulnerable populations." 

Click here to read this full report

* Note: In 2004, Special Olympics updated its official terminology from "mental retardation" to "intellectual disabilities" - previously the term mental retardation was used throughout the Special Olympics movement because of its specific meaning in clinical and academic settings. Other terminology - including cognitive delay, intellectual disabilities, intellectual handicaps, learning disability, mental disabilities and mental handicaps - is used around the world.

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