Decision-Making Options – Overview

The following section provides an overview and explains supported decision-making and guardianship. It does not provide legal advice and we strongly recommend you contact a lawyer to discuss the best options for your family.

Making decisions as an adult goes beyond educational decisions. Most students won’t need help with making life decisions as an adult (at least not more than all of us sometimes need). But some adults will need a little or a lot of help with decision-making. The picture below shows different types of decision-making options. Least restrictive means that the person keeps all or most of their rights as an adult. Most restrictive means that the person loses many or all of their rights.


Jamal is turning 18 in 9 months. He has an intellectual disability. Jamal is working toward a Standard Diploma but may not achieve that goal. He wants to go to the Mason Life Program at George Mason University after high school and eventually work in an office mailroom because he loves sorting and organizing and is good at it. Jamal does his laundry,  can cook simple meals. He is active in the community and has a number of good friends with and without disabilities who help him out. He’s not great at math and needs help to buy things. Jamal is not sure where he wants to live when he finishes the Mason program. What type of decision-making process(es) do want to think about for Jamal?

Again, we recommend you talk with a lawyer regarding these matters. Here are some sources for expert legal support on supported decision-making and guardianship.

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