How Can I Work With Adults With Developmental Disabilities?

It is estimated that about 26% of American adults have a disability of some kind. And of those people with a disability, a large portion is living with some type of developmental disability. Additionally, about 1 in every 6 children in the U.S. has one or more developmental disabilities.

With such a large portion of the population living with developmental disabilities, there are many career paths that focus on serving and caring for them. From special education teachers to occupational therapists to home health aides, there are many careers that allow you to work with adults with developmental disabilities and make a positive impact in their lives.

Keep reading to learn more about how you can work with adults with developmental disabilities.

What Are Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities?

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs) usually have them from birth. IDDs often affect multiple systems or parts of the body and directly impact the individual’s physical, intellectual, and/or emotional development.

An intellectual disability can start any time before a person turns 18. They are usually characterized by difficulty learning, reasoning, solving problems, or communicating. A person with an intellectual disability may also have difficulty with social skills and activities of daily living.

Developmental disability is a broad category of disability that encompasses intellectual disabilities, as well as certain physical disabilities.

IDDs may affect the nervous system, sensory system, or metabolism. They may also be stable or degenerative in nature. Examples of IDDs include:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Down Syndrome
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Phenylketonuria (PKU)
  • ADHD
  • Hearing loss

Whether they are physically disabled or have learning disabilities, people with IDDs are just that - people. And, as people, they deserve to live happy, healthy, productive, and independent lives. You can help them do that by choosing a career that serves vulnerable populations like the developmentally disabled.

How Can I Work With Adults With Developmental Disabilities?

Whether you work in health care, social services, or education, there are many ways to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities achieve their goals and improve their quality of life. The right career path for you will depend on your skills, preferences, and level of education.

Social Worker

Social workers work for the local, state, and/or federal government by helping vulnerable populations receive the care and support they need. Social workers help people deal with difficult problems and challenges. Whether that’s a physical illness, a mental health struggle, or a systematic injustice, social workers work as advocates for the people they serve.

They help people with a wide range of disabilities access the resources to which they are entitled to live healthier, happier lives. This may include advocating on an individual’s behalf, helping them apply for disability benefits, ensuring they’re receiving appropriate medical care, etc.

Home Health Aide

Home health aides work directly with people with disabilities in their homes. They assist their clients with daily activities like bathing, dressing, preparing meals, completing housework, shopping, and taking medication.

There is also a heavy educational component to the work of a home health aide. You’re not just doing these activities for your clients, you’re doing the activities with them. Your goal is to teach them how to care for themselves as well as they are able and supervise their progress. This helps people with developmental disabilities live more independent and dignified lives.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists treat disabled patients through therapeutic repetition of everyday activities. They often work with people who have suffered brain injuries or who struggle with mobility. These activities are designed to help their patients develop or regain certain motor skills and life skills that allow them to live independently.

Some occupational therapists even work with patients to create more functional work environments. They may visit their patient’s place of work and evaluate the space, offer modification recommendations, and collaborate with the employer to improve accessibility.

Employment Specialist

Employment specialists work with people with disabilities to help them get the education, training, and skills they need to find gainful employment. The services they offer are highly individualized and every client has their own customized employment plan.

An employment specialist may offer strengths and skills assessments, employability assessments, job and skills training, help applying for a position, continuing education, or a combination of any of these services.

Employment specialists also frequently work with employers to help them develop their occupational and training programs for current or future employees with disabilities.

Disability Support Coordinator

Disability support coordinators work to ascertain the specific needs of their disabled clients and help them thrive in their work or school setting. This can include aiding with access to and implementation of accessibility ramps, distraction-free work spaces, special devices or software, and other accessibility aids.

Disability support coordinators also work to identify and problem-solve issues in their clients’ new environments. For instance, they may help their client obtain transportation or plot out the most efficient route to work. They may even help re-arrange the layout of desks to make them more accessible for someone in a wheelchair.

Integrity Inc.

If you want to learn more about how to work with adults with developmental disabilities in your community, contact Integrity Inc. We offer community-based services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the central Arkansas area.

Our services include personal care, adult development day programs, and PASSE care coordination. We’re always looking for more qualified and passionate individuals to join our team.

We are actively seeking CNA’s to work in our Personal Care and ARChoices service lines. We pay very competitively.

If you’re interested in our job openings or would like to apply, submit your resume here.

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