Benefits & Considerations of Supported Decision Making
Supported Decision-Making (SDM) is an alternative to guardianship. Rather than a guardian making decisions for an individual with a disability, SDM allows the person with a disability to make his or her own decisions with support from a trusted team. SDM allows for changes as an individual’s preferences/needs change.
Is SDM Complicated?
No, we all engage in Supported Decision-Making (SDM) on a daily basis; we just may not realize we are in fact utilizing this tool. Each time we consult with family, friends, colleagues, or classmates before we make important life decisions, we are practicing and implementing Supported Decision-Making. Supported Decision-Making promotes one’s ability to be self-determined, have control over life decisions, and empower people to be more self-sufficient and independent.
Individuals with disabilities may need assistance making decisions about living arrangements, health care, relationships, and financial matters. But they do not necessarily need a guardian to make those decisions for them. A trusted network of supporters can field questions and review options to help the person with the disability make their own decisions.
Supporters are selected by the person with the disability. They can be family members, co-workers, friends, and past or present providers. The person should select supporters who know and respect their will and preferences, and who will honor the choices and decisions the individual makes. Supported Decision-Making is flexible, and can be adapted to meet a person’s situation and needs. The process is unique and customizable for each individual depending on his/her wants, needs, goals, and dreams.
- For additional SDM resources and worksheets for your youth and for family members, access the RED section of both the Youth Workbook and/or the Choices Book. These booklets will guide you through SDM.
- The materials in Charting the LifeCourse are designed to help a person, family, or a professional explore areas where any person might need decision-making support, plan for what it looks like and how it can happen, and seek out the needed support. Portions of this curriculum can also be found in the Green section of the Choices Book.
- A way for young adults to plan their lives by collaborating with a team of trusted supporters in order to make their own decisions.
- The support team is built based on the individual’s desires and input.
- The individual is responsible for deciding the areas and types of support they feel are needed.
- The individual accepts responsibility and the consequences of their decisions. Their preferences are more important than their best interest.
- Utah law does not currently recognize Supported Decision-Making as a legal, formal support option for adults with disabilities.
- A person’s interest in self-determination and self-advocacy
- Possess self-motivation and the ability to follow through with goals and plans
- Ability to demonstrate good decision-making which results in improved quality of life with assistance from team members
- Willingness to try new ideas and explore different possibilities
- Willingness to evaluate strengths and weaknesses when determining needed areas of support
- Willingness to work cohesively with a team of supporters to achieve desired goals
- Willingness to accept the responsibilities and consequences associated with choices and decisions made
- Willingness to put ideas down on paper and modify/adjust them as necessary with the help of support team members