Posted by Melissa Demir

At the AAIDD (American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) annual conference in Orlando, Florida this past June, I met a pastor who began his career in an institution, was part of the de-institutionalization movement, and now provides religious services in inclusive community settings. I listened to a woman with Down syndrome share her story of self-advocacy to achieve a legal status of supported decision making rather than as a ward with a guardian. Social workers from across the country gathered to discuss the importance of using an ‘ecological’ approach, which involves considering social and environmental factors that impact a person, to empower individuals with disabilities to set and achieve meaningful goals. 

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