Identifying the Risks
The first step in addressing risks is understanding specific and unique risks, and how these risks impact the individual and people around them. It is important to clearly identify risks—but it is also important to understand that everyone experiences risks. Addressing risks includes realistically evaluating the harm related to each risk.
Be realistic and understand the dignity of risk
No one can live a life that is free of all risks. In fact, there can be great benefits to facing reasonable risks and learning from the outcomes of those situations. Reasonable risks may include the types of risks that most people face, or that most people would still choose to face even after considering the potential harm. Dignity of risk is a key component of self-determination—it means that people deserve the opportunity to experience some risks instead of being “protected” from every possible risk. So it can actually be a concern if a person has no risks in their life.
Consider risks in a variety of areas
Risks can present differently across settings and based on changes in circumstances. As teams identify risks, they should review each location (home, work/day program, community, transportation) and any expected patterns (when the person is not feeling well, when around certain people or groups) to thoroughly recognize risks. This exploration needs to include the person and others who know them best, such as family members, friends, DSPs, and other team members.
Ask for help
Team members are not experts on every type of risk or support. A professional evaluation can be a valuable tool in identifying risks in areas such as:
– Behavioral antecedents – by a behavior support specialist
– Home safety – by a fire marshal or remote support specialist
– Feeding and swallowing – by a speech-language pathologist and/or occupational therapist
– Sexual offending – by a licensed clinician trained in offender behavior
Checklist for Identifying Risks