An Interdisciplinary Approach to Serving Individuals with IDD

Dorothy Leveille's Pic

Guest Editor: Dorothy Leveille, MPH, RN, BSN

I would like to thank Mrs. Karlyn Emile and colleagues for allowing me to do my practicum with the Special Olympics group.  Special Olympics is an organization that helps people with special needs. When I first heard about Special Olympics, I had no idea adults would be involved.   I thought I was going to work with children. I started with teaching the nutrition class, and I was surprised to see how much and how quickly they learned the materials.

During each course, we reviewed the contents from the previous class, and I was always amazed to hear the accuracy of their responses. Some of the students remembered every single response from the previous lesson.

Because of this internship, I have improved my communication skills and ability to relay information to students of all cognitive levels. The students loved the physical activities component of the program, as it provided room for jumping, dancing, and moving their bodies.  I developed a special love for all of the students at the center. I learned that it is essential to embrace this population because they yearn for acceptance.  I found that each individual has a preferred communication style, so I addressed them in that manner and with utmost respect.  I can honestly say that I made a little difference in their lives and they certainly made a huge difference in my life.

I worked alongside a wonderful team of instructors, including Sara Galicki, Alisha Cox-Journalism and Mass Media, and some other dietetic interns for FIU.  Our team also included some nursing students from Chamberlain College of Nursing who made this class much more fun for all of the students. I love how Special Olympics Florida uses an interdisciplinary approach to make sure that their athletes/consumers receive the best health and wellness education.  I will definitively continue to volunteer with this program; it was such an enriching experience.

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