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Self Determination Program for Autism in California

As an autistic adult living in California, you may need more support so that you can create a better life. The funding for this support is indeed available through the California Self Determination Program.  

In 2021, the Self-Determination Program (SDP) became available to autistic adults (and others living with developmental disabilities). With the California SDP, you, as an autistic adult, are eligible for receiving services from professionals that YOU select to meet your needs and improve your quality of life.

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 clients who met certain criteria. If you do not have yet have a relationship with a regional center, you can start now. Here is a link to find your local regional center.

Why pursue a Self Determination Program?

Our state’s SDP offers invaluable advantages to autistic adults, allowing you more control in choosing services and supports, compared to traditional regional center support. It is about “out of the box” thinking about what might 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 piece of mind. Receiving long-term funding for the supports needed to live a joyful live is 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.


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

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

What is your role at a participant?

  • - 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.

  • - Supervise those you hire and stay within your budget.

  • Learn more 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. (Many of my clients have done this!)

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

#5 Here is a list of potential questions to ask any IF 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.

Sacred Space is here to help if you have questions.

Please be aware that, after your regional center SDP online orientation, the process takes an average of 8 months to complete. Some Sacred Space clients have shared that their plan was 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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