Independent Living

Overview of Independent Living

► Self-determination means that you get to choose how to live your own life.

► Self-advocacy means learning how to be in control of your own life and speaking up for your rights.

► Self-advocacy is self-determination in action.

► A self-advocate is somebody who does self-advocacy.

► When we are able to self-determine, we are safer from abuse, neglect, or discrimination.

► Self-determination skills are learned by practicing them. You can have a mentor to help you.

► Self-advocacy is important because people need to know what you need in order for you to succeed.

► Before you try to self-advocate, make sure that you thought through what you want to communicate.

► It’s okay to change your mind about what you want.

► You are entitled to get community-based support and not be put in an institution.

► You have the right to vote, and to vote for whichever candidate you like best.

► You have the right to accommodations and supports that you need in your home.

► In education, you have the right to accommodations that mean you can study effectively.

► You have the right to not be abused or controlled.

► You have the right to be treated like everyone else at your job.

► You are not expected to intensively study the law. You do not need to know extremely specific examples of what you can legally do. You just need to know how to access the things you need, and live free from harassment, discomfort, or a person or institution having unfair control over you.

► Natural and informal supports - this could be help from people around you that know.

► When we don’t have our needs met, we can’t focus on what we want, because our needs take priority.

► If you need support to get the things you need, you have to figure out what those things are to make sure you get them.

► When you can have your needs met, you can start working on what you want out of life and pursuing your goals.

► You need supportive people around you during this phase of your life. You will be dealing with changes, getting new responsibilities and making decisions.

► You may not need help with everything, but you will still need to have people you can ask for help.

► To be effective, your support network needs to include all kinds of people.

► There are lots of different types of support you can get while making decisions. There are people who can help you with your finances, who can give you legal support, or help you make decisions about your education, for example.

► Having the right to make your own decisions is an important part of adulthood. This is the case no matter how many disabilities you have, or how much support you need.

► Supported decision-making can help you undo bad decisions with help from your friends and family.

► You should be able to ask questions, raise concerns, and be able to sometimes express disagreement with someone who is supporting you.

► You have the right to have things explained to you in a way you understand, before being asked to make a decision about it.

► Supported decision-making is a model that lets us keep all of the rights that we should have. Sometimes, guardianship can take these rights away.

► You can still use supported decision-making if you’re under guardianship.

► People in the U.S. are fighting to get laws changed, so that more people can have supported decision-making, as opposed to guardianship.

► You have many different options for post-secondary education, not just four-year college.

► You need to pick a solution that works for you, taking into account

What you are good at

  • Your interests

  • Your learning style

  • Your budget

  • Where and how you want to live

  • The environment you work best in.

► When you start college, you will no longer have an IEP or a 504 Plan, but there are still disability services. It is now your responsibility to identify yourself as a disabled student and seek out the services you need.

► To achieve independence, happiness and stability in life, it is likely you will need to find a job.

► Everyone has a different set of strengths and weaknesses. There are jobs available for all types of people with many different skill sets.

► You can self-advocate as an employee or potential employee.

► Self-advocating in employment is how you get a job you enjoy and are able to do.

► To self-advocate at work, you must learn your rights, your goals and your accommodation needs.

► There are laws that protect you at work. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act.

► Before you apply for a job, you will need to figure out what skills are required, and what kind of things you’ll be expected to do. These might be qualifications or previous experience.

But, some things may not always be listed in a job description - they might be unspoken aspects of workplace culture.