Cheetham’s Checklist

(Things to consider if a person is displaying new or concerning behaviors)

  1. First, blame the drugs.
  2. Is this person constipated?
  3. Does he/she have gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)?
  4. Could the behavior be a seizure?
  5. Is he/she aspirating?
  6. What’s the etiology of the intellectual disability – does he/she have a syndrome?
  7. Is his/her behavior different from usual?
  8. How would we know if he/she is having pain?
  9. How is he/she sleeping?
  10. How’s the person eating? / Does the person have dental problems?
  11. Is there a psychiatric disorder present?


Created by Dr. Tom Cheetham, MD. Dr. Cheetham was part of the Developmental Disabilities Primary Care Initiative of Ontario, Canada, and he was instrumental in creation of the IDD Toolkit and related training efforts. He was a family physician and cared for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for more than 30 years, in both institutions and community settings. He was the deputy commissioner of health services for the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at the time of his death in August 2018.