Posted on May 10, 2023
Are you looking for jobs that make a difference in the world? Well, one of the best ways to positively impact society is by working with individuals with developmental disabilities. Developmental disabilities are a diverse group of disorders that arise during the developmental period and impact cognitive, physical, or emotional development.
Developmental disabilities affect people differently. Each person experiences their disability in a unique, personal way. Some people may need more support in certain areas of life than other people. Many people may have a disability that presents more subtly. Even though their disability may not be as apparent, it can still impact their daily lives. In this article, we will explore various jobs that involve working with people with developmental disabilities, focusing on roles in the health and human services sector.
Direct support professionals (DSPs) play a vital role in the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities. As the backbone of developmental disability services, DSPs provide essential support and assistance, enabling their clients to lead more independent and fulfilling lives. This role is an excellent starting point for those interested in working with adults with developmental disabilities.
A DSP’s primary responsibility is to work one-on-one or in small group settings with individuals with developmental disabilities, providing support in various aspects of their daily lives. Some key responsibilities of a DSP may include:
Personal Care Assistance – DSPs assist with personal care tasks such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and toileting. They ensure that their clients are able to complete these tasks as independently as possible.
Meal Preparation – Preparing nutritious meals is another important aspect of a DSP’s role. They may support someone in planning, shopping for, and preparing meals, taking into account any dietary restrictions or preferences. In some cases, DSPs may also support someone as they consume their meals, especially for people with swallowing difficulties.
Medication Administration – Direct support professionals are often responsible for supporting their clients in taking any necessary medications according to prescribed schedules. They help to ensure proper dosages, maintain accurate records, and be aware of potential side effects or interactions.
Transportation – DSPs often provide transportation for the people they support, either using vehicles or coordinating with public or specialized transportation services. They may transport clients to medical appointments, work, recreational activities, or other community-based programs.
Employment Support – Direct support professionals may also assist their clients in finding and maintaining employment. This support can include job coaching, resume building, interview preparation, and on-the-job training. DSPs may also work with employers to develop appropriate accommodations and ensure a supportive work environment.
While the specific requirements for becoming a DSP may vary depending on the employer and location, most positions require at least a high school diploma or GED. Some organizations may prefer candidates with prior experience or training in a related field, such as healthcare, education, or social services.
Many employers offer on-the-job training to help DSPs develop the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively support their clients. This training may include topics such as:
Successful direct support professionals possess a range of essential skills and qualities, including:
As the backbone of developmental disability services, direct support professionals have a profound impact on the lives of their clients and their families. Through their dedication and hard work, DSPs support individuals with developmental disabilities to lead independent lives of their choosing.
In addition to direct support professionals, there are numerous other roles in the health and human services sector that involve working with people with developmental disabilities. Some of these roles include:
Behavior analysts play a crucial role in the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities. They assess behavior patterns, identify areas that need improvement, and develop personalized intervention plans. These professionals often hold a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis, psychology, or a related field and are certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).
Key responsibilities of a behavior analyst may include:
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) specialize in assessing, diagnosing, and treating communication and swallowing disorders in individuals with developmental disabilities. They hold a master’s degree in speech-language pathology and are typically licensed or certified by their state’s regulatory board.
Some duties of a speech-language pathologist may include:
Occupational therapists (OTs) assist individuals with developmental disabilities in developing the skills needed for everyday living and work. They create customized intervention plans and work with clients to improve their motor, cognitive, and sensory processing skills. OTs typically hold a master’s or doctoral degree in occupational therapy and are licensed or registered by their state’s regulatory board.
Key responsibilities of an occupational therapist may include:
Special education teachers design and implement educational programs for students with developmental disabilities. They modify and adapt the curriculum, develop individualized education plans (IEPs), and collaborate with other professionals to ensure students receive the support they need. Special education teachers typically hold a bachelor’s degree in special education or a related field and are licensed or certified by their state.
Some duties of a special education teacher may include:
These diverse roles within the health and human services sector all share a common goal: to support and empower individuals with developmental disabilities to lead lives of their choosing. Each profession offers unique opportunities to make a meaningful impact in the lives of those with developmental disabilities and their families.
If you’re looking for a great career that involves helping people, consider a career in healthcare by becoming a Direct Support Professional! At Penn-Mar Human Services, our mission is to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live courageous lives full of self-determination, independence, and equity. Our approach is innovative, person-centered, and successful. Through meaningful employment, community inclusion, and residential choice, the people Penn-Mar supports are empowered to live their best lives.
If you’re interested in a career in healthcare and want to make a difference in the lives of others, consider filling out an application to join our team! We offer a wide range of employee benefits and competitive compensation. You can also get involved by learning more about our services or signing up to volunteer with us today!