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Self Determination Program for Autistic Adults in California

Are you autistic adult wishing you had more support? If you live in California, help is available. There is funding available for this support through the California Self Determination Program. The SDP is in place to provide services and supports to assist autistic adults by increasing and improving self advocacy, community intergration, and adaptive skills.

Services some folks have found helpful: life and career coaching, acupuncture, chiropractic services, translaters, readers, speech therapists, interpreters, perception experience assistance, self advocacy & peer interaction assistance, art (think calming your nervous system!), continuing education, peer mentoring, mobility services, friendship and relationship building.

These are only examples---what do YOU need?

In 2021, California's Self-Determination Program (SDP) became available to autistic adults (and autistic kids and folks with developmental disabilities).

With the California SDP, you are eligible for receiving services from professionals that YOU select to meet your needs and improve your quality of life.

very basic white map of California with a silver pushpin through it
California's Self Determination Program may be very helpful to you

Who provides the Self Determination Program?

 You can apply for the Self Determination Program through your local regional center, a nonprofit that contracts with the Department of Developmental Services to support autistic individuals, as well as children and adults with development disabilities.

The SDP plan is based on a 15-year pilot program tested in five California regional centers. This pilot program led to SDP’s expansion all over California. Happily, there is no limit to the number of participants that can take part in SDP!

Accessibility to SDP has been extended to all California regional centers. If you do not have yet have a relationship with a regional center, start now. Here is a link to find your local regional center. If the thought of taking this first step stresses you, book a free consultation with us and I'll help you get started.

Why pursue a Self Determination Program?

Our state’s SDP offers invaluable advantages to autistic adults, allowing you control in choosing services and support. Before the SDP was adopted, many autistic adults did not find the traditional regional center support helpful to their life and needs. With Self Determination, the focus on services that help you succeed as the author of your life!

With a SDP, you receive a budget which is allocated towards acquiring the resources you find most valuable. For anyone helping support an autistic adult, this program also gives you and your loved one peace of mind. Receiving long-term funding for the supports needed to live a good life may be quite comforting.

What is the first step in obtaining this support and funding?

FIRST: Your first step would be to get your autism diagnosis if you haven’t done so. Your local regional center offers the free diagnosis assistance.


OR: If you already have a diagnosis, your initial step would be to attend a mandatory orientation available online.

This two-hour orientation is available in many languages. Determine the next available orientation here.

What do you need to do?

  • Attend an orientation and required training.

  • Select people/companies to help you implement a person-centered plan of your creation. Here, you think about what supports and services you need to create the life you want to build. FUN FACT: The people and companies you select DO NOT have to be in California.

  • Supervise those you hire and stay within your budget.

Learn about the Self Determination Program

#1 SDP providers do not have to be regional center vendors or even operate in California.

#2 You cannot select a service that could be paid for by another government agency.

# 3 You hire a Self Determination Independent Facilitator in California.

A list can be found here. Or employee a family member or friend to take on this role.

#4 The Independent Facilitator (IF) should know about services & advocate/negotiate with services providers.

#5 Here is a list of potential questions to ask an Independent Facilitator you interview.

#6 Your IF's fees are paid from your SDP’s budget & cannot be employed by agencies providing you services nor provide you services.

#7 You manage your budget & provide a monthly accounting of your spending.

After your SDP online orientation, the process takes an average of 8 months to complete. Some Sacred Space clients have shared that their plan was typically operational one year after their orientation. It is not a quick process but it is a very worthwhile program that can support you for many years to come.





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