Supported Decision-Making (SDM)
What is it?
Supported decision-making (SDM) applies to all types of decision-making. SDM supports people to understand and make decisions about their lives. A youth using SDM selects trusted advisors such as family members, friends, or professionals to serve as supporters.
The legal guardian has the responsibility to make decisions for their minor child. Keep in mind that decision-making skills can be developed at any age, so youth with a disability can still make some choices. The guardian and supporters can provide a minor with a disability the tools and supports to make some informed decisions. They agree to help the youth with a disability understand and consider their options. They can also help communicate the decisions to a third party, if needed.
It is important to find tools and supports that fit a family, and that the youth with a disability understands those supports.
SDM is a lot like providing reasonable accommodations: it’s about making sure the minor child can understand decisions that affect their life. Examples of using SDM include helping a youth make a decision by:
- Explaining information in visual or audio form instead of written
- Giving extra time to talk about choices or try options before making a decision
- Creating lists of likes and dislikes about options to help think through the end result of a decision
- Role-playing to increase understanding of choices
How do I learn more?
- You do not need a lawyer to use supported decision-making
- If you want to talk to a member of the Center for Decision-Making team, who are experienced disability advocates with The Arc Tennessee, go to the contact us page
- ASAN Easy Read Edition, “Supported Decision-Making”
- National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making at http://www.supporteddecisionmaking.org