Ways To Help People With IDD - Penn-Mar

Ways To Help People With IDD

Posted on November 29, 2022

Most people want to make the world a better place. There are many different ways to accomplish this and make a positive impact. One of the most important ways is by helping others and by working towards a more inclusive community. However, knowing how to best go about this isn’t always simple and straightforward.

This can be especially true when it comes to supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). People with IDD are deeply capable. However, just as we all have things we may struggle with, some people with IDD can face barriers when it comes to communication, mobility, learning, body processes, and more. This can impact their ability to express themselves and communicate, and so some people with an IDD work with Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), who support them in their day-to-day activities and assist them in achieving their goals.

Whether you’re a DSP or simply someone who cares about making a difference, there are a number of ways you can help create a more supportive, inclusive community.

What Does the IDD Community Need and How Can You Help?

When trying to determine how to support individuals with IDD, one of the first things to do is ask, “what is the IDD community advocating for?” Answering that question is not simple and involves thought and research. But by listening to people with IDD and what they advocate for, we can gain a better understanding of what the IDD community needs and how we can assist in providing it.

That answer can involve providing something new altogether, increasing the capacity and funding of services that are already offered, expanding your or others’ understanding, creating more accessible spaces and tools, and more. Providing some types of support to individuals with IDD will entail large, cascading changes in society and certain industries. Other types of support are simpler steps that we can make in our everyday lives.

Here are some of the key ways that you can support the IDD community:

  • Education and Awareness – One of the main ways to support individuals with IDD is by educating ourselves and others about their experiences and the barriers they may face. Once we have a better understanding, we can then support the IDD community in bringing about beneficial changes for which they are advocating. One part of educating ourselves about individuals with IDD includes being aware of the way we talk about disability. For example, we can learn and adopt each person’s preferred terminology when discussing their disability. Some people with IDD prefer person-first language. This emphasizes the individual and not their disability. For example, saying someone “has autism,” versus calling them an “autistic person.” However, other people may prefer diagnosis-first language, and may ask to be referred to as an “autistic person” instead of a “person with autism,” when discussing their disability. While it can seem confusing, it’s important to remember that just like anybody, people with IDD are individuals who have individual preferences. Understanding how to talk about disability and making an effort to learn how to be more respectful and inclusive are all small steps that everyone can take to support the IDD community.
  • Increase Accessibility – Another way to create a more inclusive environment, especially for people with IDD, is by increasing accessibility. This can involve many things, like assistive technology that helps with communication and learning, improving the services people have access to and receive, making public spaces and buildings accessible for those with mobility disabilities, improving access to transportation, using closed captioning and designing accessible websites, and more. This option for supporting the IDD community will have to be the focus of organizations, businesses, and governments in order to bring about widespread change. However, individuals who are in positions to do so can help expedite some of these changes to improve accessibility.
  • Promote DEI EffortsDiversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts have been increasingly focused on by businesses and organizations in recent years. These efforts involve celebrating diversity and the things that make us different from one another. They are also about being equitable and providing people with the resources, tools, and opportunities needed to achieve an equal standing in life. Finally, DEI efforts focus on including people in decision-making processes, particularly those who have been marginalized and underrepresented historically, like individuals with IDD, among many other communities. Continuing to promote DEI efforts will help all groups that haven’t had a voice in the past and have been under-resourced, including the IDD community.
  • Pursue a Career in Health and Human Services – One of the main ways to support adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities is by pursuing a career in health and human services. There are hundreds of different careers to choose from, but a few main ones are instrumental in assisting individuals within the IDD community. One of the primary barriers individuals with IDD face is a lack of services. Currently, there aren’t enough professionals who are devoted to supporting individuals with IDD. There also needs to be increased training opportunities for current professionals so they can better understand best practices for supporting someone with an IDD. If you are trying to help through a career, you can consider becoming a professional that specializes in working with the IDD community. One way to do this is by becoming a Direct Support Professional (DSP). DSPs are particularly important as they not only support individuals with IDD, but are a critical factor in someone with an IDD being able to live an independent life of their choosing. By being a DSP, you can directly impact individuals with IDD every day.

If you’re interested in working with individuals with IDD, then you’ve come to the right place! 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!

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