Jamey Helgeson: Decision-making is about continued learning
Published 5:30 pm Friday, November 19, 2021
Being able to make choices about your life is crucial for the independence and happiness of all people, including those with disabilities. Decision-making is a skill, and everyone needs practice. Just like all of us, people with disabilities continue to grow and gain experience throughout their lives. Regularly involving young people with disabilities in decision-making results in adults who are able to make informed decisions and direct their own lives. Everyone has the right to make decisions about their own lives.
Did you know that being able to make your own decisions leads to a higher quality of life? Studies show that people with disabilities who have more control of their lives and are more self-determined are healthier, more independent, more likely to be employed, a higher-paying job, better able to avoid and resist abuse
When individuals with disabilities are less able to make their own choices, they are more likely to feel helpless, hopeless, passive, and are, greater risk of abuse.
People with intellectual disabilities who have more opportunities to make choices make better choices. The more someone makes their own decisions, the better they can learn new skills, including problem-solving, goal-setting, and taking more responsibility. We all learn by making mistakes. If a person is denied the right to take risks, he or she is also denied the opportunity to learn and grow. Making mistakes prepares us for future decision-making. There is dignity in being able to both succeed and fail, and to learn from our failures. We all make mistakes. Mistakes help people learn.
All people, including those with disabilities:
• Have the right to make decisions about things that affect their life.
• Can learn new skills to be more independent over time when they have the right supports.
• Have the right to choose who will provide their decision making support, what types of decisions they want support to make, and how this support will be provided.
Learning is a lifelong process and does not end, age 18. People with disabilities can learn new skills to increase their independence throughout their lives.
Reprinted from: Keeping Individuals with Disabilities in Charge of Their Lives from the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities.
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