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PSME439 Intellectual Disability: Theory into Practice

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The application of philosophical frameworks within practice to support individuals to optimise health, behavioural challenges and service access for people with intellectual disability across the lifespan.

This paper will advance the knowledge base, clinical and practical skills of health and disability practitioners working in the specialist field of and alongside people with an intellectual disability. The core aim is to understand the current philosophical underpinnings within the sector and to explore the application of practical tools to support individuals and communities to proactively manage physical health, dual diagnosis, behavioural and access challenges that arise for people living with intellectual disability across the lifespan.

Paper title Intellectual Disability: Theory into Practice
Paper code PSME439
Subject Psychological Medicine
EFTS 0.25
Points 30 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $2,889.00
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $10,674.00

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NURS 433 and PSMX 439
Limited to
MHealSc, PGCertHealSc, PGDipHealSc
The applicant will
  • Hold a professional health/education qualification and/or undergraduate degree
  • Be a professional working in the health and/or disability sector
Note: Nurses must hold registration from a three-year programme or course, congruent with the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance (HPCA) Act (2003).
Judith Stone,
Teaching staff
Staff from the Centre for Postgraduate Nursing Studies and the Department of Psychological Medicine.
Paper Structure
To understand the population and their citizenship in the community, the application of philosophical drivers in the disability sector are demonstrated through a range of topics, which include but are not limited to: diagnostics, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Prader Willi and Downs Syndrome, health care and ageing with intellectual disability, movement disorders, applying evidence-based models into practice, ethical and legal frameworks, sexuality, positive behaviour support, child and adolescent neurodevelopment and pharmacology.
Teaching Arrangements
This paper is taught with a blended learning approach and combines on-campus and online study days. This may be up to 8 days across the semester.
There are no required textbooks for this paper. Recommended reading and texts will be advised.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Within their scope of practice, on successful completion of this paper, students will be able to:
  • Critique a relevant philosophy and demonstrate how it underpins their professional practice within the intellectual disability sector
  • Synthesise a range of evidence-based literature, research, national and international guidelines as they pertain to the student's professional role working alongside people with intellectual/learning disability
  • Discuss the underlying ethical concepts informing practice that is respectful of personhood and relevant to supporting people with an intellectual disability within their context of family and whÄnau and/or systems support
  • Evaluate key elements that should be considered at each stage of transition across the lifespan
  • Demonstrate an understanding of culturally responsive inter-professional roles and collaborations between individuals, family and whÄnau, communities, health, disability and education services

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system