Supported Decision Making: A New Alternative to Guardianship
Authors: Megan Morgan, Policy Fellow for The ARC of Texas Article reprinted from Texas Parent to Parent Newsletter, Winter 2015
Keywords: Supported Decision-making, guardianship, individuals with disabilities, The Arc of Texas, blind, visually impaired
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During the most recent legislative session, Texas made history by becoming the first state to legally recognize supported decision-making as an alternative to guardianship for adults with disabilities. At the heart of supported decision-making is a simple premise: all people use help to make important life decisions. Supported decision-making allows individuals to make their own decisions and stay in charge of their lives, while receiving any support they need to do so. To use a supported decision-making agreement, a person with a disability chooses an adult they trust to serve as their supporter. This may be someone like a parent, friend, or former teacher. It is important to know that the supporter cannot make a decision for the person with a disability. The supporter can, however, help the person with a disability understand the options, responsibilities, and consequences of their decisions. The supporter can also help the person obtain and understand information relevant to their decisions and communicate their decisions to the appropriate people.
After an individual with a disability asks someone to be their supporter, they should explain to the supporter what types of decisions they need help making. When both parties feel ready, they will fill out a written plan called a supported decision-making agreement, which explains what decisions the supporter can help with and what information the supporter can access. Doctors, service providers, educators, and others are legally required to accept the agreement. This means that if the person with a disability so desires, his or her supporter can do things like talk to doctors about private medical information, discuss service coordination with providers, and participate in Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings. Supported decision-making agreements are an excellent self-advocacy tool that people with disabilities can use to make their own decisions while having the support they need.
Through legally recognizing supported decision-making as an alternative to guardianship, Texas is providing individuals with disabilities and their families with another option to consider as individuals transition into adulthood. To download a blank supported decision-making agreement form, please visit The Arc of Texas website at http://bit.ly/1NuTCYE
For more information on supported decision-making, visit the websites below or contact
Megan Morgan, Policy Fellow for The Arc of Texas, at
or 1-800-252-9729 ext. 7753.
National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making
Texas Guardianship Reform and Supported Decision Making