Posted by: Susan | October 28, 2010

Making Choices

On Tuesday night April and I attended a meeting at Starfire.  Starfire is where my kids do outings several times a month.  In addition it has Starfire University, a 4 year program for young adults with disabilities.  Check it out here   Starfire is preparing for its long-range strategic plan.  Prior to this they are holding 5 meetings to get input from participants, parents, staff, volunteers and members of the community.  Each month we are asked questions on a certain subject and the answers will be used to guide the strategic planning.  Whew, big job.  On Tues. the topic was  Choices.  Here are several of the questions.

1.  What are 2 or 3 things that are important for you to have choice  or control over everyday?

2.  Why does having control over them matter to you?

3.  Think about a time when you helped someone you care about make a choice.

4. When we are at our best what do we do to help others we care about make good choices?

We broke up into groups of  5 with people we didn’t know and our answers were recorded at the end of each session.  The answers from the group were all over the place.  Choices- what I eat, what I do, where I go, how I want to live my life, where I choose to go on vacation, who my friends are, how I relax……lots of things listed.  Why does having control over them matter?  It gives us a sense of independence, self-worth and I wished I would have recorded all the good things written down.  But then I had an aha moment.  People with disabilities have many of their choices made for them.  They are not allowed to choose.  Wait a minute…I do that with my kids.  I choose almost everything.  What we eat, activities for the week, classes to take in school, what they wear.  I get it.  I am setting them up for learned helplessness.  Stomp on the brakes now!  I gotta change the way I do things.  When everyone else at the meeting was talking, I was in my own little world  thinking, “What have I done?”  Somewhere in the background I hear Scott Osterfeld, the moderator, talking about a class he taught at Starfire University.  He taught the steps to making a choice.  I loved it.  The steps are short and concise.  Here they are.


1. Stop  

2.  Think

3.  Explore consequences….both good and bad

4.  Pick a helper

5.  Select your best option

I can do that.  I can start now teaching my kids how to make decisions.  I know what you are thinking.  Sometimes our kids won’t or can’t make the right decision.  See # 4.  That is why they need a helper.  I am going to use this STEPS program until it becomes second nature to them.  This is a very necessary life skill.   It give us a sense of empowerment, ownership and accomplishment when we make our own choices. 

 Sometimes our choices don’t turn out like we plan. You know, the mistakes or failures.  That is the time to go back over the choice, find out why it didn’t work out and learn from it.  See # 4 again.  Deep subject.  Lots of thinking going on for me. 

I hope to post the handout for the Steps for Making Good Decisions soon.  Have a great day thinking about how you will teach your kids to make choices!

Grammar alert!  I know I have used incomplete or run on sentences in the above post.  I meant to:)


  1. Hi Susan. Found your blog this evening and enjoyed your postings. I like this one…and like you said, practice the 5 steps. April looked lovely for the Marine Ball! Keep up the good work. KF

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