Supported Decision Making for People with Intellectual Disabilities

Written by Dr. Betty Patten

Supported decision making is a process by which individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities are assisted in making their own decisions, rather than having decisions made for them. The goal of supported decision making is to empower individuals with disabilities to have control over their own lives and to make their own choices.

In traditional decision-making models, a guardian or other representative is appointed to make decisions on behalf of an individual with a disability. However, supported decision making is based on the idea that individuals with disabilities have the right to make decisions and to have control over their own lives, just like anyone else.

The process of supported decision-making typically involves identifying the individual's strengths, preferences, and goals, and then providing the individual with the information, guidance, and support they need to make their own decisions. This might include providing them with information about their options, helping them to weigh the pros and cons of different choices, and providing them with the necessary assistance to implement their decision.

Some key elements of supported decision making include:

  1. Respect for the individual's autonomy: The individual's right to make their own decisions is respected and upheld.

  2. Identification of the individual's strengths and preferences: The individual's strengths, preferences and goals are identified, and these are taken into account when making decisions.

  3. Providing information and guidance: The individual is provided with accurate and relevant information, and guidance is given to help the individual make informed decisions.

  4. Assistance in implementing the decision: The individual is provided with the necessary assistance to implement the decision they have made.

  5. Ongoing support: Support is provided on an ongoing basis, as needed, to help the individual make decisions and to monitor the outcome of the decisions.

Overall, supported decision making is an approach that emphasizes the autonomy and self-determination of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, and aims to empower them to make their own decisions and control their own lives.

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