A Direct Support Professional (DSP) is someone who works directly with people who have intellectual or developmental disabilities. DSPs aim to assist people in realizing their full potential. They help people become integrated and engaged in their community.
DSPs support people with disabilities to participate in their communities, including through employment. They also provide other services, such as help with activities of daily living.
Historically, DSPs primarily served as caregivers for the people they supported. In the past few decades, however, the needs of those served began to change, and the roles of DSPs began to change as well. Today, the role of a DSP goes beyond caregiving and focuses more broadly on supporting people with disabilities to participate fully in their communities, live in integrated settings, and seek Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE).