Integration For People With Developmental Disabilities

It needs all-round efforts on part of all of us, including governments, to make possible integration for people with developmental disabilities with society at large. Thankfully, things have improved now and people with developmental disabilities are not only earning money from jobs, but also improving their social skills and the quality of their lives, thereby enriching society as a whole. A healthy society definitely needs social integration of such people.

A study on the main elements contributing to the processes of integration of people with developmental disabilities into the regular labor market has revealed that family, training (before and during the integration service), monitoring of the worker in the workplace, and work setting play a key role in the process.

A more effective government role is necessary to regulate and provide resources to create supported employment services and to allow these services to plan their own interventions. While doing so, the government must keep in mind the relevance of and relationship between aspects such as family, training, workplace monitoring, the work setting and personal resources of the developmentally disabled person.

Some community integration programs help people with developmental disabilities relocate from state centers and nursing homes back to their communities. These programs use their funds to provide opportunities for people with developmental disabilities being heard about how they want their lives to look, enabling them to have choices and as much control over their lives as possible. The money is also spent for services designed to meet such people's individual needs, and promote their independence.

For integration of people with developmental disabilities with the mainstream, they should have relationships with people who are not disabled and who are not professionals appointed for looking after them. Recreational and leisure activities can play a major part in building such relationships. These relationships can create a sense of belonging among these disabled people and society only will benefit from it.

But the principal barrier to the participation of people with developmental disabilities in community activities and organizations is to a large extent a problem of attitude. The common attitude is that such integration is either not possible, or too troublesome to try. If physical and social integration of these people are not an immediate objective of the recreational and leisure services provided to them, they will never be able to be full participants in community life.

But it is a good sign that slowly but steadily people with developmental disabilities are being integrated into society. They are now playing small but important parts in workplaces, a vast difference from the times when they were given only simple jobs, such as assembly work in a sheltered workshop. For example, a 31-year-old man with moderate developmental disabilities is successfully working as the captain of the cleaning crew at a KFC in Pflugerville. On the other hand, businesses are no longer reluctant to employ such people because they are mostly dedicated and trustworthy employees.

In this way, if we all come forward with a helping hand, there is no reason why integration of people with developmental disabilities would remain only a distant dream. We must bear this responsibility for society as a whole.