SDM 101

What is Supported Decision Making (SDM)?

"SDM" stands for Supported Decision Making. SDM is a tool that allows people with disabilities to make their own decisions with the support of people they trust.

This is no different than what many of us do every day when we ask for advice from family and friends. We may ask for help deciding what to eat for lunch or whether to buy a car. SDM is a lot of words for getting help with decisions, big or small.

Supported Decision Making in 2 Minutes and 47 Seconds

Watch this short video to quickly learn SDM basics. 

What SDM Looks Like

A person who uses SDM is called the “decision maker”. The decision maker chooses people they trust to help them make decisions. They will choose people like friends, family, or professionals. These people are called "supporters." The supporters help the decision maker understand, think about, and share their decisions. This can be done informally or in a written plan called a supported decision making agreement. The decision maker can say what decisions they need help with. Some examples are things like where to live, how to manage money, and how to stay healthy. They can also choose who they want to help them and how they want to be helped.

Here is an example of SDM in action. Jodie asks her uncle to be her supporter and help her decide where to live. Jodie and her uncle make a plan for how he will help her. He will help her find an apartment that has everything she wants, work with a real estate agent, visit apartments, and set up automatic rent payments. Jodie also asks her uncle to help her tell the landlord about needed repairs. This same process can be used to help Jodie make other decisions in her life, like what job to have and how to eat healthy meals.

Different Levels of Decision Making Help

There are many ways to get help making decisions. Some people don't need any help, while others might need someone else to make all their decisions for them. This is called guardianship. Guardianship can be helpful for some people, but sometimes it's used without first trying other ways to get help that are less controlling. In Kansas, this has happened a lot.

Meet Kansans Who Use SDM

SDM is already empowering Kansans with disabilities. Here is how Brad, Skylar, and Robyn use SDM in their lives.

Video Credit: KU Center on Developmental Disabilities

SDM Stories from Across the Country

People use SDM in many places around the world. These videos show how people in the United States work together using SDM. There are many people using SDM in Kansas, but it is also a popular tool in other states and countries.

Supported Decision Making: A Family's Perspective

Gabby Uses SDM to Help with Important Healthcare Decisions

Watch how Gabby uses SDM in healthcare.

Skye Uses SDM to Help with Daily Decisions

Watch how Skye uses Supported Decision Making in her daily life.

Ben Uses SDM to Pick a Roommate

Ben uses Supported Decision Making to choose a good roommate.