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Supported Decision-Making as a Foundation for Alternatives to Guardianship

by Chelsea E. Russell and Dana V. Yarbrough

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Experts agree that self-determination is critical for individuals with disabilities to lead more fulfilled lives (Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1997). Controlling one’s own life is important throughout the aging process as people strive toward independence and positive personal, educational, and career outcomes. As youth move towards adulthood, it is important for them to be as involved as possible in decisions that affect them, especially when they reach age of majority. Supported decisionmaking is a process of engaging with youth to make decisions that embodies the person-centered principles of self-determination. When utilizing supported decision-making, a trusted family member or friend provides different levels of support with decisions rather than a guardian having full control (Kohn & Blumenthal, 2014). Supported decision-making presumes that all individuals have both the capacity and the right to make decisions and to be actively involved in all decisionmaking processes about their lives (United Nations, 2006).

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