Frontline Initiative Choice, Direction, and Control

Frontline Notes

Peoples with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have not always had their choices, direction, and control over their own lives honored. In this issue of Frontline Initiative, we focus on how to support peoples’ choice, direction, and control. Critical culture and policy changes are impacting the ways direct support professionals (DSPs) provide supports. Our aim in this issue is to make you aware of these changes. We also want to provide you with resources to help people make choices, take direction and feel control over their lives. This starts with helping people make day-to-day decisions in the ways we provide supports.

As DSPs, we are often driven by the successes of the people we support. Moments when people demonstrate choice, direction, and control are pivotal in our work. This is especially true when people have not often been given such options throughout their lives. Making choices and taking control is a skill. DSPs can support people to practice this important skill. As our cover story emphasizes, we can support people in making decisions. Even when people we support make a bad decision, we support them to learn from their mistakes. We can support people to become strong decision makers.

In this issue, we look at new federal regulations that emphasize peoples’ choice, control, and direction. We examine guardianship. We also discuss a newer option called supported decision-making. We provide resources DSPs and families can use to explore supported decision-making. People and their loved ones can use these to determine if supported decision-making may be right for them. We also include several stories about people with IDD who were supported to make decisions about their lives. We hope you are inspired by the great successes they experienced. Your role as a DSP is so important in the everyday decisions people make in their lives, both big and small.

DSPs support peoples’ choice, direction and control in their routine and rituals. But we are often also present when people make larger decisions about the course of their lives. A person we support may be considering education or employment. They may be considering a relationship or pursuing a new hobby. Such experiences can change how a person feels about themselves. It can help them to be empowered to do things they didn’t think they could do before. We support people in balancing risks and benefits in a person-centered way. Our role as community navigator is important in helping people reach their dreams.