Claire Adams

About Claire

Claire is a 23-year-old disability advocate from Tucson, Arizona. She enjoys singing and attending concerts. She also goes to music festivals, and likes to travel. She is a graduate of the Arizona Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program and goes to college at the University of Arizona. 

Claire talks to friends and professionals already working in the fields she is interested in to help her make educational and career decisions. She has gotten advice from doctors, employers, coaches, and teachers when making decisions. She gets advice from those who have gone through similar situations that she is experiencing while trying to make big decisions.

Claire's Decision-Making Experiences

Claire first learned about alternatives to guardianship at an Arizona Youth Leadership Forum presentation. The Arizona Youth Leadership Forum is hosted by Diverse Ability and serves youth who have a disabilities. This program supports youth and is a safe space for individuals to express their ideas, feelings, and experiences. She believes “supported decision making and alternatives to guardianship are very important so that people with disabilities can exercise self-determination to the maximum extent possible.”

Claire experienced people overstepping by making decisions for her, without her. She was left out of her IEP meetings in middle school. That led to the school making decisions without her and making goals for her that she felt were irrelevant. Her parents helped fight for her when she had teachers who did not want to follow her IEP recommendations. Her parents and friends are her biggest supporters. They know her personality and strengths very well and inform her about what she needs to know before making major decisions. Now, when someone tries to to make a decision for her, Claire takes the opportunity to say “hey, I have my own people in my life who know me well and have helped inform me on making this decision, and I feel I know what’s best for me.”

Sometime around age 18, her parents discussed what having a power of attorney would mean for her. A power of attorney is a tool that allows one person make certain decisions on another’s behalf. They asked if she thought it would be good for her, to which she said yes. Now her parents can act on her behalf when it comes to money and going to the doctor. She still has the main control over those areas.

Claire’s Involvement in Disability Rights

Claire is involved with the Arizona disability rights non-profit organization Diverse Ability Incorporated. She also serves as a member of the Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council. Claire does presentations for Arizona LEND, college classes, and conferences about disability rights and supported decision-making. She also meets with legislators about issues that are important to her.

Claire’s Advice to Others About Decision-Making

“Trust that you know what’s best for you, and it’s okay to need help making decisions, however big or small! Know which people know you the best and make you feel the safest, and that is your support system. Those are people who can help you make decisions! You should also have different people you can go to for different situations, which could depend on your relationship with them, how knowledgeable they are in a particular area, how comfortable you feel discussing a particular topic with them, and many other factors. If someone tries to make a decision for you that you don’t like, speak up!”

Claire’s family from left to right: Claire’s dad, Claire, mom, and sister