In August 2021, a law was passed in New Hampshire formally recognizing supported decision-making as an alternative to Guardianship for people with disabilities and aging adults. Supported decision-making allows a person with disabilities to make their own decisions. It is flexible in how it is applied from individual to individual and even how it is applied to the same individual over time.
During her year-long LEND fellowship with Disability Rights Center-NH, Sarah Belhumeur explored how the principles of supported decision-making could be introduced to preschool aged children (3-5 years old), who had Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). The children participated in a series of activities which presented them with choices. By encouraging the children to make choices, like what food coloring to use in a cup of vanilla yogurt, they saw the consequences of their choices (they now had a different color yogurt), experienced the dignity of risk (how did they feel about their color choice?), and became comfortable and confident making choices for themselves.
The idea behind Sarah’s project was that by developing and normalizing independent choice-making skills in preschool, these young children could build on this foundation, and continue to gain the confidence and knowledge necessary to make larger decisions later in life – decisions relating to their health, education, and employment for example.
To learn more about LEND and Sarah’s project visit: iod.unh.edu/nh-me-lend
To learn more about supported decision-making visit drcnh.org/issue-highlight/supported-decision-making