Today I would like to talk about a hearing that I went to for the Self-Directed Advocacy Network (SDAN) in September of 2019. Here are two key points that were discussed in the hearing:
The Importance of the Power of Choice
Here is the link to a previous blog post, Making Your Own Choices. You can use this as a reference as I’m talking about the power of choice. The power of choice is important for individuals with disabilities because no matter the significance of the disability, people have voices and should be presumed competent. Power of choice shouldn’t be taken away by any person, institution or program. When the power of choice is taken away, it is a disservice that can cause great harm.
Let’s think of an example everyone can relate to. You and a few friends order a couple different pizzas. Rather than asking everyone what pizza they’d prefer, someone plops a piece of pepperoni pizza on everyone’s plate. This person assumed everyone would enjoy this kind of pizza, simply because they did. They didn’t take the time to ask if anyone wanted a different type of pizza, or even ate meat. While some people were delighted to find the pepperoni pizza on their plate, others only wanted plain. Imagine this on different scales now. People ignoring your music preferences, referring to you by the wrong name, or disregarding your wants and needs because they don’t align with their own. That’s so frustrating! This is why the importance of the power of choice is relevant to everyone, not just those with disabilities.
The Importance of Self-Direction
According to the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration, “Self-Directed Services flip the way service plans are developed upside down” and allows the individual to decide how they will spend their time and who they will spend it with. People with disabilities shouldn’t be directed by someone else, necessarily. It may not be the best option for everyone. Self-direction is more effective than traditional services because the individual leads the team, deciding their own annual plan, staff, and schedule.
Autonomy to direct your own life is very important. Those who choose to self-direct can pick members of their team based on their wants, needs, or desires. This allows the individual to decide whether or not someone will be a good fit for them and can lead to a more close relationship with employees. Traditional services don’t lend as much flexibility in regard to who you work with. I receive tremendous benefits from self-direction because I look for employees who will encourage me to make the right choices and reach my goals.
When choosing programs other than traditional services, the power of choice and self-direction are important. Everyone’s services should be tailored to match their wants, needs, and goals. People in self-direction even have the option to participate TMA’s programs, such as Sensory Friendly Concerts, Troupe, or Empowerment Jam Sessions! Coming to these events allows individuals to interact with each other and the great community we have around us.