Two men in suits

Self-Determination is an important concept for people with disabilities. Often this population of people do not have a lot of “say” in their daily decisions, decisions like what to eat for dinner, what they would like to do with their leisure time or who they want to care for them.

Orion ISO’s self-directed services are based on the theory of self-determination. We defined and discussed this concept more in depth in an earlier article titled Self-Determination 101.

Quite simply, self-determination means people with disabilities should have the same opportunities and choices as people without disabilities. Delaware People First Program has a clear definition and defines self-determination as ”… when we as advocates know ourselves, make our own decisions and solve our own problems”.

Let’s examine this concept closer and look at some everyday examples of a person leading a self-determined life.

    • I wake up at my desired time in the home that I chose to live in. I may or may not have roommates. I choose my clothes for the day in my bedroom where I picked out my bedding, furniture and decorations. I have pictures on the wall that I like to look at.
    • I get to decide what I want to have for breakfast and when I want to eat my breakfast.
    • I go to work at a place where I had input into the decision. I may have chosen my job from a list of places and job opportunities with the help of a family member or other person who is part of my team. It is a place I want and like to go.
    • I am doing a job that I like to do that makes me feel important. I get to and from work with transportation that meets my needs. It may be a bus, taxi, or a friend or staff person that drives me. Whatever the means, it is adequate and allows me to get to and from work on time and safely.
    • At my job I get the necessary support I need to successfully do my job. This may be from job coach or a special chair or other piece of specialized or adapted equipment.
    • When not at work, I decide what I want to do with my free time. I may want to go for a walk, see a movie or go the mall to shop for some new clothes. I decide my schedule for the day.
    • I may have more medical needs than most. I want to know what prescriptions I am taking, why I am taking them and how they may affect me in terms of side effects. I am able to refuse a medication or a treatment if I decide to. I want to be treated like any customer and make informed choices about my health care. I will give my informed consent before any treatments.

Finally, as a person with disabilities it is important to me to know what’s going on publicly on decisions that affect my services. I want to know about hearings and bills and if I am able or chose to do so I would like to be involved in committee meetings, attend hearings, meet my legislators and tell my story. I want to be a self-advocate.
Self-advocate Andy Dreisewerd met with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton in April of 2013.

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