Positive Approaches Journal | 5
Taking risks, making bad decisions, and experiencing the consequences of one’s choices are often unacknowledged yet essential parts of living an everyday life – a life that is no different than one lived by a person without a disability. At the same time, most of us are in positions where we have some degree of professional responsibility to ensure that individuals with disabilities are protected from harm.
Balancing the obligation to protect individuals’ health and safety with the obligation to protect individuals’ rights is extremely difficult. Indeed, these obligations are frequently seen as mutually exclusive; how, for example, does one manage a situation where an individual with diabetes insists on eating sweets and drinking soda? What is one to do when an individual chooses to be in a relationship with a person who is verbally abusive? Simply put: when does choice override risk, and vice versa?
In this issue, we begin to explore the question of “choice versus risk” by presenting the perspectives and experiences of professional clinicians in the areas of risk, rights, and restrictions. It is our hope that these articles will help readers understand how to make safety and rights complement one another through person-centered practices.
—Ronald Melusky, Director of Program Operations, Office of Developmental Programs