Otto Lana
We cannot let the fear of failure come between us and our right to make our own decisions.

Otto’s Story

Otto’s loved ones trust and respect him to make his own decisions. He shares:  

 “Just like everybody else in society, I research my options and I ask questions. I am naturally inquisitive, maybe a little paranoid. I did spend a decade without functional communication, and was misdiagnosed as intellectually disabled. I was not presumed competent and was not given agency or autonomy. Now that I have a robust system of communication, I tend to grill people for all the answers. I ask my parents, I ask the experts (doctors, educators, bankers, and accountants). Supported decision making is part of my life every day. I live an interdependent life and the simplest things such as meal prep to the big things like applying to college are completed in a collaborative way. I explained I did not want to be conserved. Everything in my life was geared towards independence and critical thinking skills. I did not want irrational parental fears of harm to me standing in the way of my civil rights and my freedom to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We cannot let the fear of failure come between us and our right to make our own decisions. If things do not turn out the way we thought they should, we cannot get stuck on the idea of mistakes. Let’s instead reframe results as unforeseen outcomes. That way it takes the binary ideology of right or wrong, good, or bad, out of the equation. When unforeseen outcomes happen, we regroup, we adjust, we adapt, we pivot. We make different choices, and the most important thing is we retain the right to choose.”

Otto’s Supported Decision-Making Team 


Otto chooses people he trusts to be on his supported decision-making team. He chooses people who support him and who follow his requests. His family members, friends, and experts are important to him 


I learned about conservatorship and alternatives several years ago from Darlene Hanson SLP as she encouraged me to create a person-centered plan for my future. We discussed my goals for the future and what plans I needed to make to reach those goals, what support systems needed to be in place, and who in my circle of support would facilitate my goals and dreams. Different people serve in different support roles. Some people provide direct support and others oversee the support systems in place. The takeaway from a person-centered plan is I am the Sun in this universe. Everything revolves around me and my wishes. I have the right and the freedom to choose the life I want to live. This is a perfect plan for me. Supported decision-making makes perfect sense in my universe. 


Otto’s Advice to Other Youth 

My passion/talent is helping people understand words matter. Letters create words and words create worlds. Words have the power to create calm or chaos, inclusion, or segregation. Word choice makes all the difference. Please choose wisely. Everyone has a purpose and with the proper support we can all reach our highest potential. I live and lead by example. Society needs to see living large with their own eyes because seeing is believing. Do not give up your civil rights because you are afraid. You do not have to give up your rights to be safe. Safety comes from information, a strong support network, and a robust reliable system of communication. Conservatorship takes away your rights and gives you a false sense of security. Supported decision-making is flexible and you retain the ability to pivot, to adapt, to live the life you choose with the level of support, wherever and whenever you choose. There are tons of resources to help you with decisions and to help inform you and your support network. You are not alone.

Three young adults standing in front of a white backdrop. William, a young Latin/Filipino man , on the far left, is wearing wire rimmed glasses, has short black hair gelled back and a charcoal suit, white shirt and navy tie with a small pattern, and he is smiling. Bella, the young Latin woman in the center has her left arm draped on William's shoulder. She is wearing a black short sleeved dress, has shoulder length brunette hair and she too is smiling wearing pink lipstick. Otto, on the right is a young caucasian man with a broad toothy grin, wearing a black tuxedo, white shirt, white vest with a black bowtie. His short brunette hair is gelled back.

From left: William, Bella, and Otto. Friends and ModSquad4Access LLC group as well as California state team youth ambassadors.

two men wearing short sleeve black t-shirts with the words "Everyone Belongs Here" printed in multicolored font. The young caucasian man named Otto is on the left and smiling broadly with Tim next to him. Tim is an Asian man also smiling broadly seated in a motorized wheelchair. Both men have short brunette hair stylishly gelled back. They are wearing lanyards from the conference they are presenting at together. This is a picture of great joy.

Otto and Tim at TACA 2023.