The idea that intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDDs) only affect children is a common misconception. Most people that don’t share a relationship with a person affected by an IDD have been influenced by mainstream media in which the needs of children take focus However, according to the U.S Census Bureau, the reality is roughly 1.8 percent of U.S. adults had an IDD as of 2014. That’s nearly 4.3 million adults that require support and care in their communities.
The amount of research done in how to effectively support adults with IDDs is growing, but there are still many unknowns.
What we do know is that choices define quality of life for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Support in doing activities of their choice, spending time with people of their choice, and doing work of their choice – that they enjoy – can empower these individuals more than sheltered programs which provide limited options for social engagement and employment.
Personal Choice in Community Engagement
Individuals with IDDs have said they want opportunities where they can do meaningful work, show their talents, and interact with others that are at the same level as themselves throughout their community.
Organizations like Angel Guardians play a vital role in removing barriers to full involvement of individuals with IDDs in their communities by introducing adults with IDDs to programs designed to engage these persons in environments where they can feel empowered to express themselves.
Programs such as Community Connections and our Very Special People (VSP) Club positively impact these individuals by providing unique and thematic opportunities with a special focus on social skills and independence. Movie nights, Show and Tell, Karaoke, Crafting and so many more activities serve as a way for adults with IDD to express the emotions, struggles and personalities in whichever way they feel most comfortable in.
Personal Choice in Employment
The ability to access person-centered services is a determining factor in the quality of life for adults with IDDs. Nearly half of 25 year olds with Autism or Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities have never held a paying job.
Some states have approached this issue by creating “sheltered workshops” where individuals with disabilities can do menial tasks for less than minimum wage. These workshops rarely offer a choice in the work given, rather assigning a person wherever manpower may be needed.
There is a better way. By allowing individuals with IDDs to choose the type of work they want to do. Angel Guardians offers help here too by helping individuals learn skills to help them find and keep employment, in some cases Angel Guardians provides direct employment through their programs and affiliated organizations.
Check out Adam’s story below to see how choice can improve quality of life for individuals with IDD here at Angel Guardians.