02/17/2014 08:23 EST | Updated 04/19/2014 05:59 EDT

Intellectually disabled struggle to find work, despite government efforts, changing attitudes

WASHINGTON - Most Americans with intellectual or developmental disabilities remain shut out of the workforce, despite changing attitudes and billions of dollars spent on government programs to help them.

Even when they find work, it's often part-time, in a dead-end job or for pay below minimum wage.

A recent survey finds only 44 per cent of intellectually disabled adults are in the labour force, while just 34 per cent actually are working. That compares with 83 per cent of nondisabled, working-age adults who are in the workforce.

The survey commissioned by Special Olympics finds 28 per cent of working-age adults with intellectual disabilities have never held a job.

Disability advocates say the jobs picture will remain bleak until there are better programs to help disabled people find jobs while they are still in school.