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 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.”
From left: William, Bella, and Otto. Friends and ModSquad4Access LLC group as well as California state team youth ambassadors.
Otto and Tim at TACA 2023.