The road to employment is not often easy for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Families know firsthand the complexities and challenges of obtaining employment for their members with extensive support needs. The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify the critical barriers they encounter in this important pursuit. We interviewed 60 parents (and other caregivers) whose family members with intellectual disability and/or autism had sought and/or obtained paid work. The difficulties they described were extensive and multifaceted. Specifically, participants identified 64 different barriers attributed to six primary areas: individuals, families, schools, service systems, workplaces, and communities. Their unique insights amplify the need for new approaches for promoting integrated employment. We offer recommendations for research and practice aimed at better understanding and ameliorating barriers to meaningful work for adults with IDD.

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