Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Opinion: Balancing Decision Making and Independence

Interesting column by Tara Kiene,director of case management with Community Connections Inc.

DURANGO, Colo. -- Sometimes the freedom to make choices means having the opportunity to choose poorly.
For many years, people with developmental disabilities were not supported or allowed to make choices. They were locked into institutions in sterile, controlled environments, to assure their safety and the safety of the community.
Today, individuals with developmental disabilities live and work in our communities and have many more opportunities to seek independence and lead fulfilling lives. Part of living independently is making choices for yourself. There is an innate risk in making a choice. Sometimes, you choose the wrong thing. Sometimes, that wrong choice can affect your health or safety. But if someone takes away all chances of making a wrong choice, are you really getting to choose? So, how does a person with disabilities and her caregivers balance her right to make decisions in her own life with the need to assure that those decisions do not negatively affect her health and safety? How does an individual with developmental disabilities exercise his right to make decisions without the risk of someone taking that right away if all his decisions aren't perfect?
This is the balancing act faced every day by people with disabilities and their service providers.

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