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As California marks the 30-year anniversary of the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, there is more legal support and social acceptance than ever for including individuals with developmental disabilities in our daily lives — i.e., in community-based settings. Yet, the day-to-day decisions are not necessarily easier. Informed parents and professional advocates are meant to digest the latest literature, absorb the best practices, fight the fights, rise above the loneliness, and travel the correct path in search for services and support. In this article, I highlight the peculiar difficulties posed for professionals who advocate on behalf of children with disabilities, using the landmark Lanterman Act — with its emphasis on choice and inclusiveness — as a backdrop. Mindful of the best practices to which we all aspire, our advocacy is bracketed by the realities of time, money, bureaucratic behaviors, and human or other subjective factors. From early intervention to respite care, from residential placement to transition-planning and natural supports, I have traveled that path, strayed from it, and learned a few things along the way — with my son David. Legal knowledge, enhanced consciousness, and ideology all help to shape the model disability rights advocate, along with a dose of the real and the pragmatic.

Lanterman Act, Developmental Disabilities Services Act, Developmental Disability, Intellectual Disability, Natural Support, Supports and Services, Self-Determination, Autonomy, Choice, Inclusion, Independent Living, Interdependency, Community-Based, Regional Center, Protection & Advocacy System

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