Supported Decision-Making (SDM)

What is it?

Supported decision-making (SDM) applies to all types of decision-making. SDM supports people to understand and make decisions about their lives. A person using SDM selects trusted advisors such as family members, friends, or professionals to support them as they make decisions.

Although the conservator has the responsibility to make certain decisions in areas where decision-making rights have been removed, the individual with the conservatorship can still make some choices. The conservator and supporters can provide the person with a disability the tools and supports to make some informed decisions. They agree to help the person with a disability understand and consider their options. They can also help communicate the decisions to a third party, if needed.

It is important to find tools and supports that fit a family, and that the youth with a disability understands those supports.

SDM is a lot like providing reasonable accommodations: it’s about making sure a person can understand decisions that affect their life. Examples of using SDM include helping a person make a decision by:

  • Explaining information in visual or audio form instead of written
  • Giving extra time to talk about choices or try options before making a decision
  • Creating lists of likes and dislikes about options to help think through the end result of a decision
  • Role-playing to increase understanding of choices


How do I learn more?