My name is Jonathan Gardner. I am a 20 year old Self- Advocate, Cancer Survivor, and Decision Maker, who happens to have Autism. I am one of the official ambassadors for Operation House Call and through my work I teach young medical professionals essential skills to enhance the health care of persons with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). I am a very proud Citizen Member of The Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council where I get to help pass bills and continue to fulfill my vision of helping others anyway I can. I am also a Flutie Fellow for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation where I get the chance to share my vision with others to live their best lives and make a positive difference. A few fun facts about me are: I enjoys video games, anime, wrestling, and advocating for myself and others.
I’m the type of guy that has learned from a very young age how to turn a traumatic experience into a positive difference. I would like to share with you information about a Bill that is very important to me. The Bill is called Supportive Decision Making. Supportive Decision Making is an alternative to Guardianship, not a replacement, but an alternative. Supported Decision Making has given me a the confidence to use my voice to make the decisions that are important to me which makes me feel very independent with my life.
I was using Supported Decision Making before I had Cancer and continue to do so now. I would like to tell you a little about how I use Supportive Decision Making and why it is so important to me.
I used supported decision-making to help me fight Cancer and also for my Mental Health. My support people include: my Mom Nancy, Dad Glen, my Brother Eric, Mrs. Clifford, Mr. Stickney, Adam and my Medical Oncology Team.
To me Supportive Decision Making works like a Board of Supporters. I can choose people that I trust to help me make decisions that are important to me and then I make the final call on living my best life. Some of the ways my support team supports me is in my daily life, money management, decision-making for my health and mental health, friendship, advocating , my love life ,and working.
Fighting Cancer has been one of the hardest journeys of my life. And I have been through a lot of hard journeys already. I am so thankful I was given the freedom to choose how I went through my treatments.
Supportive Decision Making makes me feel involved with my life and how I chose to get my treatments to make me well. I was able to let my body and voice guide me with the support from my Mom, Dad and Doctors. I did not have many choices when it came to having Cancer but at least I can was able to control when and how we did it.
I truly believe that Supportive Decision Making saved my life. If I had full Guardianship I would not be able to pick who my Guardian is. It would not be guaranteed to be my Mom or Dad. A Judge would make that decision and it could even be a complete stranger. No offense to any of the Judges, but how would any Judge know who a good fit for me would be if you don’t know me personally? Guardianship would have been worse than death because I would have lost my choice. I fully trust my support team, but I want to make choices for my own life. Without Supportive Decision Making I would not be able to do this the way I needed to for my own mental health.
Here is a little story for you. I was doing chemo and radiation at the same time for a long time. I was starting to break until I broke. After cooling down. I was able to put my faith in my Mom as my support person for both my health and mental health to come up with a plan that would work for me.
I think Supported Decision Making should be law because it gives everyone a choice for freedom and to choose who supports them.
At the end of the day, everyone who can choose for themselves deserves to choose for themselves.
Together we can all make a difference. THANK YOU!