Self-Determination

What do the Principles of Self-Determination Mean for Me?*

FREEDOM – People with disabilities must be free to decide how to live their own lives.  That means:

  • Choosing where and with whom you want to live
  • Choosing what you want to do and where and when you want to work
  • Being free to do the things that interest you
  • Creating the support system you want and choosing support that fits your needs and your personality
  • Taking risks and possibly failing

AUTHORITY – People with disabilities must have the authority to determine where and how to spend the public funds.  That means:

  • Knowing and controlling the public funds allotted to you
  • Deciding what aspects of your life should receive the most attention
  • Having the authority to hire and fire people who serve you
  • Having your preferences heard and your decisions followed

SUPPORT – People with disabilities must be allowed to organize resources in formal and informal ways that enhance their lives and are meaningful to them as individuals.  That means:

  • Being free to choose your caregivers
  • Gathering input from people who care about you
  • Being allowed to fund the support services that are best suited to your situation
  • Being free to switch services and service providers if your situation changes or you’re dissatisfied

RESPONSIBILITY – People with disabilities must be given responsibility for the wise use of public funds and must be recognized for the contributions they make to their communities.  That means:

  • Receiving competitive wages for competitive work
  • Being held accountable for the decisions you make
  • Making good financial choices that support clearly defined goals
  • Being given the chance to volunteer in the community and participate in community events

CONFIRMATION – People with disabilities must be allowed to play important, meaningful roles in restructuring the system.  That means:

  • Sharing your opinion with people in decision-making roles
  • Being free of retaliation
  • Acting as a change agent by taking part in the legislative process
  • Offering constructive ideas for change

Self-determination in Michigan

The Michigan Mental Health Code establishes the right for all individuals to have their Individual Plan of Service developed through a person-centered planning process regardless of age, disability or residential setting.

Self-determination and Person Centered Planning

Person-centered planning (PCP) is a central element of self-determination.  The purpose of person-centered planning is to provide a process for an individual to define the life that they want and what components need to be in place for the individual to have, work toward and achieve that life.

Self Determination Resources

  1. What Is Self-Determination and Why Is It Important?
  2. Be Your Own Best Advocate PACER
  3. The Toolbox for Self-Determination  from I’m Determined– a resource booklet to help build self-determination skills in students
  4. It’s My Choice Workbook Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities

Self-Determination–  from the Michigan Alliance for Families Webinar Series

More resources:

*Reprinted from Partners in Living, a self-study course created to help people with developmental disabilities, their family and friends explore four important elements that, together, can help them create a meaningful life: Self-Determination, Family Support, Community Living and Assistive Technology. The Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities.

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