Supported Decision Making | UC Davis MIND Institute

University Center (CEDD)

Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

Supported Decision Making (SDM)

Toma de Decisiones con Apoyo (SDM in Spanish)

Quyền Tự Quyết định có Hỗ trợ (Vietnamese version)

When a young person with disabilities approaches the age of 18, families are often incorrectly told that they must seek conservatorship (guardianship) or they will no longer be able to obtain information or provide guidance and support in the areas of healthcare, education and other services. In fact there are a variety of tools commonly used that allow families to continue to provide support to their loved ones. While some people with disabilities may need assistance with understanding information and making decisions, conservatorship is the most restrictive option. Conservatorships are rarely altered or reversed, locking people into permanently having other people making binding decisions for them, often without their input. Families are often unaware of potential complications of conservatorship or the alternatives available to support their loved ones. The following materials present an overview of concerns about the current conservatorship process for people who can participate in the decision-making process:

Supported Decision-Making:
Protecting Rights; Ensuring Choices

Supported Decision-Making:
5 Reasons to Re-Think Guardianship

Introduction to supported decision-making

Supported decision making (SDM) allows people to obtain guidance and support without relinquishing their legal right to make decisions about their lives. Using supported decision-making, a person with a disability chooses a person or a team of trusted people to help understand, make, and communicate their decisions. The person may rely heavily on their supporters when making decisions, but the decisions ultimately remain within their control. Supported decision-making is a very flexible process; as the person gains experience, the areas in which they seek support and the people who they choose to support them may change. The following materials provide an overview of the supported decision-making process:

Supported Decision-Making:
What Supported Decision-Making is
and why it Matters

Supported Decision-Making Workshop
July 2019

Getting started with supported decision-making

Supported decision-making is a simple process and is often informally practiced by families and our service system. Formalizing supported decision-making is a relatively new process. The following resources are helpful to help get started with exploring a formal supported decision-making process.

Using Supported                  
A Step by Step Guide

Supported Decision Making

For more Information

Supported decision-making resources for other states

Several states have supported decision-making legislation.  While legislation is not required to use supported decision-making where you live, it is helpful to be aware that the model has been legally recognized. 

Support for CEDD's Supported Decision Making Project, including development of this webpage,
was provided by the WITH Foundation.