Supported Decision Making

Study after study has shown that people with physical, medical, and/or mental health support needs have more control over their lives and make more decisions for themselves – when they have more self-determination– they have better quality of life. Self-determined people are more likely to live independently, work, be integrated into their communities, and avoid abuse.  

These videos, from our Partnering for Strength conference, will introduce the theory and practice of Supported Decision-Making (SDM), explain roles within SDM, and provide an overview of resources. These videos give examples and resources of what SDM can look like in all areas of life.   

Introduction to the theory and practice of Supported Decision Making (SDM)

When people with disabilities use Supported Decision-Making, they work with friends, family, and professionals so they can understand their choices and make their own decisions. As a result, Supported Decision-Making can help people be self-determined, have better life outcomes, and avoid unnecessary guardianship.

Family and lawyer at Supported Decision-Making meeting

Module 1: SDM Introduction

Meet Jonathan Martinis Esq., J.D., a Senior Director for Law and Policy with the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University. Mr. Martinis is leading the Institute’s efforts to ensure that older adults and people with disabilities can access the services and supports they need to lead independent and inclusive lives.

Young adult taking a driver's license test

Module 2: SDM Guardianship

“When we mean well is when we must be the most careful.” In this module, Mr. Martinis reviews an understanding of rights, choice, supported decision-making, and the history of guardianship. He examines research studies and outlines where families can go from here.

Mr. Martinis celebrating with "Jenny" after winning their landmark cased in Supported Decision-Making

Module 3: Jenny’s Story

In 2013, Mr. Martinis represented Margaret “Jenny” Hatch in the “Justice for Jenny” case – the first trial to hold that a person has the right to use Supported Decision Making to make their own life choices instead of being subjected to permanent, plenary guardianship.

a picture of the dictionary definition of legislation

Module 4: SDM Law How-To’s

In this video, Mr. Martinis provides an overview of New Hampshire’s Supported Decision-Making law and emphasizes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing SDM. Mr. Martinis shares some helpful tips for SDM, as well as some personal stories about individuals who have transitioned from guardianship to SDM.

Education, Employment, & Independent Living: The Culture of Coordinated Support Model 

This section demonstrates ways to create and implement effective and efficient support plans and services in programs, including Special Education, Vocational Rehabilitation, and Medicaid support. Using the Culture of Coordinated Support Model based on SDM, people can improve their services and ensure that providers work together. This model allows providers to specialize in areas where they excel, resulting in more efficient and effective work that saves time and resources.

Download the full slide deck for this section here.

Young adult working as a cashier

Module 5: Self-Determination

People with disabilities who exercise greater self-determination have a better quality of life, independence, and community integration. This module explains what self-determination is, why it’s important, and how self-determination impacts the education process.

deaf man coordinating with his team on Zoom

Module 6: Coordinated Plans

This module explores Creating a Culture of Coordinated Support to move away from separation and silos and working together to empower people with disabilities.

Young man at school

Module 7: IDEA

Module seven explores the intersection of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Supported Decision-Making (SDM). The IDEA aims to provide children with disabilities a free and appropriate public education, with special education and related services that cater to their unique needs and help them prepare for further education, employment, and independent living.

File foler labeled IEP meeting

Module 8: IEP

Module eight focuses on creating a meaningful IEP that is the foundation for SDM. This video explains why student-led IEP meetings, using “I” statements in the IEP goals, and creating goals for the student to engage in self-determination and work towards supported decision-making as early as possible is a critical step.

Picture of three women with developmental disabilities

Module 9: Best Practices

Module nine highlights some best practices to consider and how they align with SDM.

man with disability using public transportation

Module 10: Goals

Module ten puts everything together for transition planning and connecting a person’s goals and dreams to supported decision-making,

Supported Decision-Making in Health Care and Life Planning

This section will focus on strategies and practical tips for maximizing independent living supports to help people lead their best, most independent lives. The modules review best practices in informed consent, early and periodic screening, diagnosis and treatment, person-centered planning, centers for independent living, money management, and ABLE accounts. Using SDM, people with disabilities can plan for and access the supports they need throughout their lives!

Young woman talking to health care provider and choosing to share certain medical information

Module 11: HIPPA

Module 11 explains what HIPPA is (and is not) and how it relates to Supported Decision Making.

Young woman checking her blood sugar level with a glucose monitor for diabete

Module 12: Medical Care

Module 12 looks at ways to support medical decisions without guardianship, such as authorizations and power of attorney. This module also explains the Medicaid waiver and related medical decisions.

woman in wheelchair speaking to care team

Module 13: Shared vs. Supported

Module 13 helps families and individuals understand the differences between shared and Supported Decision-Making.

young woman getting money from and ATM

Module 14: Finances

Module 14 takes viewers through the financial options around Supported Decision-Making and different programs and opportunities families can look into.