Self determination means that all people have the right to direct their futures; have control over how they live their lives, where, and with whom; and have authority over the resources that support them.


Understanding of and commitment to the following principles are essential to ensure this basic human right is respected.

People have the right to choose their lifestyles, their careers, where they live and with whom.  When people need help, it is friends and family closest to them who assist them in broadening their experience and exercising their right to choose,  It is essential that each person have a network of support chosen by them.

Dignity and Respect
All people have an inherent right to be treated with dignity and to be respected as a whole person.  Most of life’s greatest lessons are learned when we make choices that we later realize were mistakes.  All people have the right to the dignity of risk.

The relationships a person has with others are like precious gems and should be treated in that way.  A relationship must be treasured, protected and nurtured.  Those with whom the individual has real relationships provide the strength, assistance, and security which ensure each person’s well-being.

People have the power to make decisions and truly control their lives.  This includes authority over financial resources as well as the authority to determine what the supports will be and to hire the people who will provide that support.

All people have hopes and dreams which guide the actions that are most meaningful to them.  A commitment to helping people determine their dreams, respecting those dreams, and helping to make them come true is crucial.

Contribution and Community
Everyone has the ability to contribute to their community in a meaningful way.  Giving of ourselves helps us establish a sense of belonging and identity.  Community membership includes having an opportunity to be employed, to have your own home, to be truly involved in the routines of the community and to make a difference in the lives of others.

Fiscal Conservatism
When people have choice and control, they can purchase supports in a way that allows them to get what they need, pay only for what they get, make real investments, spend money more efficiently, and make adjustments to their supports as their needs change.  It is important that alternatives to paid supports be explored and included in support plans.

Roles and Responsibilities
Individuals, as they take on greater control and authority over their lives and resources, assume greater responsibility for their decisions and actions.  Professionals and staff work for the individual rather than for the system.  Families, friends and staff assist people to create more meaningful relationships, link them with needed supports, remove barriers, develop safety networks and help make dreams come true…while never forgetting who is in charge.

Whatever It Takes
Self-determination requires an attitude that nothing is impossible as long as it is legal and causes no harm.  “No, we can’t” as an answer is replaced by “How can we make this happen?”  Making things happen doesn’t always require money.  Realizing dreams is about opening up opportunities that do not depend on the limited resources the system has available.