Affirmation of Community

News Tuesday, 20 March 2018 15:21
Maybe it is the times, or maybe it is the fact that we have had some time to examine how it is that we interact with and support children and adults with disabilities in communities. Or maybe it is simply that people with disabilities are sick and tired of being controlled by others. Whatever the reason, self-determination has emerged as the agenda of the 90's. As Bob Williams says: "Self-determination is just another word for freedom." Freedom to live with whom you want, freedom to live a productive life, freedom to attend school with your friends and brothers and sisters, freedom to get around your community, freedom to love and reject. . .
When professionals and other people who are part of support systems are faced with questions about an individual's decision-making capacity, they are often led to the concept of incompetence and the promotion of legal guardianship. This is a process that everyone would prefer to avoid and that unfortunately can result in total lack of control and power of the individual over his or her own life. Fundamental rights of individuals which all citizens of our country expect and enjoy can be limited under guardianship. These rights may include marriage, voting, the right to procreate, and privacy. In addition, the power to make simple day-to-day decisions is often given to a surrogate decision-maker, further negating the meaning of the self-determination process for the individual.
Community Living Services (CLS) is a large nonprofit corporation that promotes “community inclusion, full citizenship, and a self‐determined life” for people of all ages with developmental disabilities. The organization has undertaken significant transformation in the past 15 years. This report focuses on that transformation, particularly with respect to community living services.1 It is based on a site visit to CLS, Inc. in May 2009, which included interviews with administrators of CLS and contracted service providers, direct support staff, individuals with disabilities, and family members, as well as review of documents.