Here in Maine, the legislature has approved many changes in our Probate Code over the past year. One of the biggest changes has been to add the model of Supported Decision Making to be used first for people who live with disabilities and may need a guardian.
Supported Decision Making (SDM) is a model that allows people living with disabilities to make choices about their own lives with the support of a team of people. The individual chooses these people because they know and trust them, and want them to help make decisions about their lives. The team of people can help the individual think about actions and reactions so the person can make a choice.
Supported Decision Making goes hand in hand with self-advocacy and helps people to lead a more independent life. People sometimes use SDM as an alternative to guardianship, but some people who have guardians also use SDM to make decisions.
We spoke with Kile Pelletier, Program Associate at SUFU about Supported Decision Making. Kile has been part of a training team from Maine and has partnered with Disability Rights Maine to teach other self-advocates about SDM. Here is what Kile had to say:
Kile, why is Supported Decision Making important? It’s important because if you want other people to feel like you are one of them, you have to make your own decisions in your own life. This allows me to be more of a self-advocate and speak up on the decisions I want to make.
What would you want others to know about Supported Decision Making? Supported Decision Making is very important for a person living with a disability, because if you want to show people you don’t need a guardian, using supported decision shows that you can make your own wise decisions.
If someone is looking for resources on Supported Decision Making where should they look?
The website www.supportmydecision.org is a great resource that shows what Supported Decision Making is, and a checklist that can help you determine what areas you may want support in. In addition, you can contact an Advocate at Disability Rights Maine, or if you would like a self-advocate point of view I (Kile Pelletier) would talk with you and listen.
It is important for self-advocates to learn more about Supported Decision Making and Guardianship so that each person can have more self-determination in their lives.