This is my journey now
Cory Carlotto is a young man in his twenties and lives at home with his family in the Berkshires. Cory’s interests include music, cars, and outings with friends. Cory works with the Advantage Employment Network and does various part-time jobs in a supported environment. He has a great smile and an outgoing personality. Cory is on the Autism Spectrum and at times struggles with his OCD and anxiety which affect him in all aspects of life including health, relationships, finances and program participation.
In 2009, when Cory was approaching the age of 18, his parents, Malia and Angelo Carlotto, placed him under guardianship, not knowing of any other available options. His parents believed that he needed some help with making decisions about his finances, health, and other issues. However, they were unable to find any alternative that would work for him besides guardianship. His parents moved forward with the guardianship but with the intention that one day they would be able to give Cory back his rights.
In January 2015, Cory and his family learned about the Supported Decision-Making Pilot Project being developed by the Center for Public Representation and Nonotuck, where he receives services. After learning about SDM, Cory decided to try out this new model. Cory identified his supporters and in which areas of his life he would need help with decisions. He filled out an SDM representation agreement reflecting his choices. Cory decided to sign an agreement and executed an advance directive for health care and a power of attorney.
In September of 2015, Cory and Malia presented to a packed room, on their experiences in the SDM Pilot Project at the 22nd Annual Shared Living and Adult Family Care Conference in Marlboro
Cory Makes History
On November 17, 2015, Cory appeared before a Berkshire County Probate Court judge and successfully petitioned to terminate his guardianship in favor of his supported decision-making agreement.
This is the first time that a Massachusetts resident has relinquished a guardianship in favor of a Supported Decision-Making Agreement.
Cory was represented by Robert Fleischner from the Center for Public Representation. Cory had been under his mother’s guardianship since he was 18. His mother, Malia Windrow-Carlotto, along with his father, Angelo Carlotto, and his sister, Carisa Halon, are his network supporters. As required by Massachusetts law, Cory’s petition to terminate the guardianship was accompanied by reports from MSW, MD, psychologist, and psychiatrist who each said that with support Cory could make his own decisions.
Cory is very happy that he can now make life decisions with support if needed from his sister and his parents. His mother described SDM as the “perfect storm for Cory, because we always wanted an alternative to guardianship from the beginning, but there was not such an option at the time when Cory turned 18. We are happy that Nonotuck and CPR have stepped up to meet this need for families and their loved ones.”
What Supported Decision-Making has meant for Cory
According to his mother:
SDM “is forcing Cory to see himself as an adult. He seems to be enjoying making his own decisions and still feels that he needs to check in with me prior to making one.”
“We are learning to provide Cory his choices, not our opinions.”
“Supported decision-making … has allowed our son to show his voice to the world and to become the adult that he wishes to be.”
In Cory's own words
“[Ending the guardianship was] very special because I felt my own freedom for the first time.”
“ [I learned] there were apartments available for independent living. ..I met with my parents to help me make the decision. [They] gave me the big picture of what my life would look like, such as limited money, working more hours and independently doing laundry and cooking. I wanted this experience, and I took the risk.”
“Supported decision-making is really important to me. I love my family and they will always be there to support me.”
“This is my journey now.”
In September 2021, Cory shared his Supported Decision-Making story with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution. Check out his video and written testimony.
Do you use supported decision-making? You can help other people get started with SDM by sharing your experience.