What does Self-Determination mean?

Dear Friends of Full Access:

There are a lot of changes being planned in services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).  During the next few weeks as I understand these better, I will be writing about them.  These are all changes in state policy and then of course, in how support will be delivered.   Our goal at Full Access is always to manage these changes without affecting the lives of our clients and their families.  I think we do very well at this goal!  If you disagree at anytime, I would like to know that!

The first thing to say about the changes is that we have a strong commitment from our leadership at the Oregon Department of Human Services to keep our  focus on Self-Determination.   I am very excited about this!  I know that when we build our services and system on this key foundation, we will succeed!  It is up to all of us at Full Access, our clients, families and advocates to be sure we do succeed.

I want to share what our official rules say about Self-Determination then share a bit about how I experienced this today.

 “Self-Determination” means a philosophy and process by which individuals with developmental disabilities are empowered to gain control over the selection of support services that meet their needs. The basic principles of self-determination are:

(a) Freedom. The ability for an individual with a developmental disability, together with freely-chosen family and friends, to plan a life with necessary support services rather than purchasing a predefined program;

(b) Authority. The ability for an individual with a developmental disability, with the help of a social support network if needed, to control a certain sum of resources in order to purchase support services;

(c) Autonomy. The arranging of resources and personnel, both formal and informal, that shall assist an individual with a developmental disability to live a life in the community rich in community affiliations; and

(d) Responsibility. The acceptance of a valued role in an individual’s community through competitive employment, organizational affiliations, personal development, and general caring for others in the community, as well as accountability for spending public dollars in ways that are life-enhancing for individuals with developmental disabilities.

I had a very great time today experiencing this with Nick Kaasa who wanted me to share his business Facebook page here.

Nick is the perfect example of Self-Determination!  He has a very active and busy life!  I know he is a planner and he is very organized.  He has several volunteer jobs and will be adding a paid work assessment to his life this summer.  He organizes his resources and uses them well!  He has a favorite coffee shop in his neighborhood and I know people notice him because I watched that happen!  Nick is very easy to connect with.

He has done many presentations at schools, has been acknowledged with a Self-Determination award and is eager to get involved in more activities.  He has a positive attitude even in the face of difficult things.  He has contacted the mayor, corporate offices and school leaders to give feedback on accessibility issues.  There are potholes near his home, and the trials of getting there in his wheelchair because of them don’t stop him from getting out and about.  He advocates not only for himself, but for others.

When Self-Determination is our foundation, not only does our system work, but individual lives work and that is what matters most!  Let’s keep our focus on our foundation and people like Nick in charge and in motion.  Great job Nick!



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