Supported Decision-Making: From Justice for Jenny to Justice for All

Supported Decision-Making: From Justice for Jenny to Justice for All

Book Cover photo of railroad tracks leading toward the sunset with the title Supported Decision Making, From Justice For Jenny to Justice For All

How would you feel if you weren’t allowed to make decisions about your life?

What if someone had the power to tell you where to live, who to spend time with, and what to do? What if that person had control of your money and health care? Isn't that hard to imagine?

Yet, hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities face this situation, every day, when they are in a guardianship. When a court decides that a person needs a guardian, it appoints someone to make decisions for that person, usually in all areas of life. While guardianship may be helpful to some people, when people who can make their own decisions are put in guardianship, they can lose their rights and have a worse quality of life.

That's what happened to Jenny Hatch, a young woman with Down syndrome. Before she was put in guardianship, Jenny lived in her own apartment, worked, spent time with friends, and went to a church she chose. After the court ordered her into guardianship, Jenny was put in a group home, against her will, with her cell phone and laptop taken away, cut off from her friends, and not allowed to go to her job and church.

In this book, Jonathan Martinis and Peter Blanck tell Jenny’s story, including how she lost her rights under guardianship and won them back when she showed the court that she uses Supported Decision-Making (SDM) to make her own decisions with help from people she trusts.

They’ll also show you how you can use SDM in your life, with family members, or people you support. They’ll give you practical tips and model language to help you request, receive, and use SDM in the programs and life areas people with disabilities use every day, including Special Education, Vocational Rehabilitation, Person Centered Planning, Health Care, Money Management, and others.

As you read this book, you’ll learn that SDM is for almost everyone and almost everyone can use SDM. The authors hope that people with disabilities and their families, friends, and professionals will use this book to help them develop customized SDM plans that protect their rights and empower them to make their own decisions.