Supporting Daily & Major Life Decisions

Learn about decision-making options and the importance of building decision-making skills.

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) often seek guidance from trusted family and friends to help with making some daily and major life decisions. These decisions can range from making simple purchases to managing a budget to talking to a healthcare provider about medical care. It’s important to recognize a person’s ability first when determining the level of support needed in making these decisions.

Who is involved? What are the options?

Identify a trusted family member, friend, or a professional trustee who will play a role in decision making and who will respect the wishes of the person with I/DD.

Here are some ways that people with I/DD can receive support in making decisions:

Evaluating Level of Support Needed

Talk to the person, family, disability professional, and legal advisor to determine what decision-making option is appropriate. If guardianship is necessary, then it’s important to recognize the person’s ability when deciding between limited or full guardianship.

Consider consulting with a lawyer to navigate the legal process of these decision-making options. It’s important that the lawyer understands person-centered decision-making for people with I/DD. If your family can’t afford a private lawyer, consider working with a legal assistance program such as Legal Aid. Contact The Arc’s national office through our online form or at 202-617-3268 for more information.

For more resources:

Information on supported decision-making and guardianship issues.

Plain Language

For information on Decision-Making in plain language, click here:
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