Kurtz and Smith Publish Article on Emerging Alternative to Guardianship

Source: The Communicator: A Publication of the Autism National Committee, Volume 24(3), 6-7. Fall 2018

Alan Kurtz, Ph.D., and Valerie Smith, Ph.D., recently collaborated on an article, Supported Decision-Making as an Alternative to Guardianship, that was published in the Fall 2018 edition of The Communicator: A Publication of the Autism National Committee. Dr. Kurtz is the Coordinator of Education and Autism Initiatives at the University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies. Dr. Smith is the Coordinator of Maine’s Alternative Certification and Mentoring Program in the University of Maine College of Education and Human Development.

In their article, Kurtz and Smith state that guardianship is an obstacle to self-determination for autistic individuals and others with disabilities: “guardianship laws tend to result in a permanent loss of rights.” The authors explore Supported Decision-Making (SDM) as an emerging alternative to guardianship. They define SDM as “an established practice that allows individuals to live self-determined lives by using the support of trusted others to weigh their options while retaining their legal right to decision-making.” Maine is one of five states (Alaska, Delaware, Maine, Texas, and Wisconsin) that has recognized SDM as a legal alternative to guardianship in statute or their probate code.