Self Determination

What it means and how to help your student develop self determination

One of the most significant concepts to emerge in the last few decades is the awareness of the importance of self-determination in the life of an individual with a disability. For too long, professionals made decisions for people with disabilities with little input from the individual or parents. While these decisions were motivated by good intentions, they may have overlooked the desires, hopes, and aspirations that remained hidden within the person with disabilities. As our society has become more sensitive to the needs and rights of the disabled, we have moved to the concept of self-determination as a crucial element in the design of a life plan.

Self-determination is a person's ability to control his or her own destiny. A crucial part of the concept of self-determination involves the combination of attitudes and abilities that will lead children or individuals to set goals for themselves, and to take the initiative to reach these goals. To do this one must be in charge, which is not necessarily the same thing as self-sufficiency or independence, make his or her own choices, learn to solve problems effectively, take control and responsibility for his or her life, learn to experience and cope with the consequences of making decisions on his or her own.

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