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Letter: Self-determination is a real alternative

Paul Forziano kisses his bride, Hava Samuels, after

Paul Forziano kisses his bride, Hava Samuels, after the disabled couple was wed in a ceremony in Wading River. (April 7, 2013) Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

I recently attended a meeting that included members of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State. One topic of the discussion was the marriage of Hava and Paul Forziano and their wish to live together [" 'Like a dream come true,' " News, April 8].

The individuals in attendance, all of whom qualify for services from the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, have chosen to avail themselves of a little-known option for people with disabilities: self-directed services. This option has been available for more than a decade and has been called several different things (now Individual and Community Supports).

These individuals, with the help of those who love them, live self-determined lives. They have the option to purchase services from some of the established, better-known agencies, but most do not. Instead, with their loved ones, they hire, fire and train their own staff and supports, set their own goals and life agendas, and spend time in ways that are meaningful to them. They do not have to give primary consideration to agency rules or regulations.

The feeling in the room was unanimous that it was wrong to deny the Forzianos the freedom to live together as husband and wife. Neither they, nor anyone else, should be denied this solely on the basis of a disability.

John Innis, Greenlawn

Editor's note: The writer is executive director of the Positive Behavior Support Community Foundation, a nonprofit educational and charitable organization.