Self-Determination.  It’s a big ideal for everyone, whether they have a disability or not.  Who doesn’t want to have the right to make decisions about their own lives?  This can sometimes be a scary idea, though, for parents of children with disabilities, especially if the child requires some type of support to live on their own.  It can be a scary world out there, right?

For a long time, people have been presented with the idea that if an individual cannot make any and all decisions for themselves, they should have a legal guardian.  And, although alternatives exist to full guardianship- say limited guardianship or power of attorney agreements- too often the process defaults to obtaining full guardianship.  As guardianship is a legal process, having a legal guardian appointed means the individual is seen as legally incompetent to make decisions for themselves.

So, along came the idea of supported decision-making.  The idea that an individual can make decisions for themselves, with input from others who are important in their lives.  We all do that too, don’t we?  If you have a big decision to make, and you’re just not sure what to do, don’t you seek counsel from a trusted family member or friend?  Do you sometimes ask the advice of several close associates?  Supported decision-making is an idea whose time has come.

If you are considering pursuing guardianship of a loved one, you owe it them-as well as yourself- to explore alternative options.  To get started, you can check out the “Supported Decision Making” page on the National Gateway to Self-Determination website.  To view that page, click here:  Supported Decision-Making