Self -Determination Through the Eyes of a Client

I recently had the pleasure, on my radio show Special Needs Long Island, to meet Mandy Shenkman, an individual with developmental disabilities who works with The Center for Family Support, an organization that, in part, helps people with developmental disabilities work within self-determination.

According to the Self Advocacy Association of New York State (SAANYS) (another recent radio show guest),“Self-Determination (SD) is an idea that came from people with developmental disabilities and their families who wanted more control over their supports and services. While SD can be achieved in many ways, one important way is through a new option offered by OMRDD called the Self-Determination Pilot Project.”

Mandy Shenkman, a self-determination client of The Center for Family Support, had this to say:

I’ve been with CFS for 11 years.  Linda and Mary are my wonderful support team; they believe in me.  11 years ago Linda was the only MSC who believed that self-determination was real.  She went through the struggle of getting me approved. Now, more and more people feel that self-determination is for them. Linda and I were the pioneers. Mary knows that self-determination provides me with choices on how to live and work in the community. Having choices gives me freedom and control.  When I was unhappy with one of my life coaches, Mary helped me fire her. I don’t think I could have done that without her support.

I am so proud to be a Grassroots Presenter in the New York State Self-Advocacy Association. I talk about my life at conferences, training programs, colleges and on the radio. Linda and Mary are my agents.

Mary works with me each month to complete the paperwork for Self-Determination. Linda makes sure I am living a full and active life.

I’ve been working 2 or 3 days a week since 1998. I wanted to add another day to my work week.  My supported work agency refused to help. Linda and Mary respected my request. Their efforts to find me another job were successful.  I love all my jobs.

Mary and Linda are my teammates, my partners, my Circle of Support and my friends. I am lucky to have them.

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