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Texas Project

NTG Partnership

ID & Dementia Texas Project

Addressing Barriers to Care Faced by Aging Texans with Intellectual Disabilities and Developmental Disabilities

The NTG is partnering with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston on an exciting five-year project funded by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities.

The state of Texas provides for a multitude of services for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), as reflected by the Texas Statewide Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Strategic Plan.  A main strength of the existing Texas continuum of services for people with IDD is the focus to support people to reside in the community connected to family, friends, education, and work opportunities. The Statewide IDD Strategic Plan is a roadmap for a statewide and strategic approach for addressing gaps in IDD services and policy in the state of Texas, and this includes strengthening the relationship among agencies to better serve aging adults with ID, particularly those declining due to physical aging or neuropathologies, such as dementia, and in need for health and social care supports.

"Interdisciplinary Tele-enabled Health Homes for Aging Adults with Intellectual Disabilities" was conceived by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston to address the challenges faced by aging adults with intellectual disabilities and the scarcity of specialized health care services to address their needs.  The project, funded by a grant from the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, is creating an online HIPAA compliant interdisciplinary health center portal enabled by telehealth to reach all aging adults with IDD in Texas. Primary outcomes will be informed families/clinicians responsive to adults with IDD needing care, motivated stakeholders as change agents, and an interconnected network of trainers in urban and rural counties. Another component of the grant is to strengthen bridging between the aging network and IDD agencies.  To this end, the NTG is aiding the project at UTH by providing statewide workshops on dementia-capable care of adults with intellectual disabilities, creating a statewide network of NTG Affiliated Regional Trainers, and the use of a Texas-wide ID and Dementia Project ECHO.

To date, the NTG has held a number of two day workshops within the state, as well as held 'train-the-trainer' days to build intra-agency capacity to orient and train IDD agency personnel.  The NTG/UTH also organized a state stakeholders 'summit' that was held in Austin on December 7, 2022. Participators were a number of key local and state stakeholders affected by and involved in services for older adults with intellectual disabilities. Key NTG project principals, Dr. Seth Keller, Dr. Kathleen Bishop, and Ms. Kathryn Pears organized the 'summit', which was moderated by Dr. Cameron Jeter.

For more information email

Texas Project ECHO Stakeholders Summit

About ID and Dementia Texas ECHO

Moving Knowledge, Not People

In an ECHO network, experts and learners rely on each other for continuous collaboration, problem solving and professional growth.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston), in partnership with the National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices (NTG) has received a five-year grant from the Texas Council on Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) to create address barriers to care faced by aging adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Across five years, our project will create an interactive website, a Project ECHO® training center on aging, dementia, and intellectual disabilities, hold statewide workshops on dementia-capable care of adults with intellectual disabilities who are at risk of or who have developed Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, motivate stakeholders as change agents, and create an interconnected network of specialized intellectual disabilities and dementia trainers in urban and rural counties.   

ID and Dementia Texas ECHO is a key component of the project. 


How Project ECHO Began
ECHO stands for Project Extension for Community Care Outcomes. Project ECHO's story launched in 2003. It grew out of one doctor's vision. Sanjeev Arora, M.D., a social innovator and liver disease specialist at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, was frustrated that he could serve only a fraction of the hepatitis C patients in the state. He wanted to serve as many patients with hepatitis C as possible, so he created a free, educational model and mentored community providers across New Mexico in how to treat the condition. A New England Journal of Medicine study found that hepatitis C care provided by Project ECHO-trained community providers was as good as the care provided by specialists at a university. The ECHO model is not traditional "telemedicine" where the specialist assumes care of the patient but is instead "telementoring", a guided practice model where the participating clinician retains responsibility for managing the patient. By 2006, ECHO had launched programs in mental health disorders, substance abuse, gestational diabetes and rheumatologic diseases. Today, there are ECHO's in more than 9,000 cities and 180 countries and they address not just medical conditions but have expanded into education and other fields as well.  Project ECHO aims to touch one billion lives by 2025

The Project ECHO Model

Inspired by the way clinicians learn from medical rounds during residencies, the ECHO Model® has evolved into a learning framework that applies across disciplines for sustainable and profound change. ECHO calls it “all teach, all learn.” ECHO participants engage in a virtual community with their peers where they share support, guidance and feedback. As a result, our collective understanding of how to disseminate and implement best practices across diverse disciplines continuously improves and expands.

During an ECHO session, participants present real (anonymized) cases to the specialists—and each other—for discussion and recommendations. Participants learn from one another, as knowledge is tested and refined through a local lens. This continuous loop of learning, mentoring and peer support is what makes ECHO unique, with a long-lasting impact far beyond that of a webinar, e-learning course or telemedicine care. This knowledge-sharing model brings together specialists from multiple focus areas for a robust, holistic approach. 

Guiding Principles 
Amplification - use technology to leverage scarce resources
Best practices - reduce disparity
Case-based learning - master complexity
Data - monitor outcomes to increase impact

The Multiplier Effect
By participating in ECHO programs, a single specialist contributes to the development of 20 or more local experts, who then go on to apply their newly acquired knowledge to improve the lives of people in their communities. This inclusive, nonhierarchical philosophy is at the heart of the ECHO Model and informs every ECHO program.

Want to learn more about Project ECHO? Visit their website at

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