Please join The Arc of Massachusetts in recognizing the dedication and accomplishments of our terrific Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) this week (September 8 – 14). We’ll be sharing stories this week that highlight the important contributions DSPs make every day to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.
As a Direct Support Professional (DSP), I work with clients who have autism and require additional support being integrated into the community. They may need support at home with activities of daily living or behavior management. This means I spend time my time ensuring my client’s safety while I prompt and teach skills that will help with independence or appropriate behaviors.
That said, I also get to have fun playing with some of the greatest individuals that I’ve ever met. I am lucky to support children and young adults with autism who try to do their best every day. Often, these individuals do not have an easy use of language or they have other unique support needs. But, they are brave and resilient and I learn as much from them as I teach them – if not more!
Currently, I work as a DSP part time. Although the hours are flexible around my day time job, the salary does not meet my basic needs for housing, food and bills. Due to this, I would not be able to survive on this salary alone and therefore also need to work full time at a private therapeutic day school.
It is unlikely that I would ever be able to solely rely on my work as a DSP because I have continued to educate myself in this field and now have extensive school loans. I hope rates of pay can increase as well as opportunities to grow in the field. It would be wonderful if I could get some help with school loans as I plan to continue working with people with autism as my career.
DSPs are an integral part of the life of an individual with autism and an important part of the individual’s family or support team. Finally, I believe direct support providers and their clients can develop a beautiful true friendship and a lasting connection.