The Origins of Self- Determination: How Far We’ve Come, But There’s Still A Ways to Go Michael J. Ward, Ph. D. The George Washington University Overview Self-determination in special education Self-determination issues we have not adequately addressed Suggestions to increase self- determination Systems shift The OSERS Self-Determination Initiative Focused on system-wide activities Promoted service systems to include consumers in decision-making. Develop a cadre of future leaders. Supported 26 model demonstration projects to identify and teach skills necessary for self-determination. Self-Determination Defined - 1 Ward (1988) “The attitudes which lead people to define goals for themselves and the ability to take the initiative to achieve those goals.” Self-Determination Defined - 2 Wehmeyer (1992) “The attitudes and abilities required to act as the primary causal agent in one's life and to make choices regarding one's actions free from undue external influence or interference.” Self-determination as involves the constructs of autonomy, self-actualization, and self-regulation. Self-Determination Defined - 3 Field and Hoffman (1994) “One’s ability to define and achieve goals based on a foundation of knowing and valuing oneself”. Five major directives: (a) know yourself, (b) value yourself, (c) plan, (d) act, and (e) experience outcomes and learn. Consensus Definition of Self- Determination Field, Martin, Miller, Ward, & Wehmeyer (1998) “Self-determination is a combination of skills, knowledge, and beliefs that enable a person to engage in goal-directed, self-regulated, autonomous behavior. An understanding of one’s strengths and limitations together with a belief in one’s self as capable and effective are essential to self-determination.” Common Elements of S-D Definitions Attitudes; Skills; Goals; Choices relevant to decisions that affect one’s future. Ward & Kohler (1996) analyzed many of the 26 projects to identify specific practices and approaches related to teaching and applying self-determination. Skills Curricula for Promoting Self-Determination Self-advocacy Decision making and goal setting Using community resources Creativity and self expression Assertiveness and self-actualization Empowerment and social independence Self-Determination Instruction The instructional approaches fell into two primary areas Developing students’ abilities regarding self-determination Characteristics Knowledge Skills Providing opportunities to practice and apply self-determination Emerging Issues in Self- Determination DISCLAIMER: Not research-based Based on discussions with graduate students (teachers and related services personnel) working with secondary students with disabilities Issue 1 - Parents! “This is how I want my son/daughter to be self-determined.” Issue 2 - Self-Disclosure All students should know that: They have a specific disability, Their limitations, The preferred accommodations Issue 3 - Documentation Students need to have a name for their specific disability to obtain services and accommodations in postsecondary education and employment. Does this become a label? What about the term ‘mental retardation’? Issue 4 - Opportunities for Exhibiting Leadership Different than leadership opportunities How? Examples include playing sports, having a meaning role in a group project or school play Suggestions- Through “self-talk,” recognizing one’s talents and promoting these talents to others Issue 5 – Age of Majority Guardianship At 18, the rights of the parent are transferred to the young person. Parents are encouraged to seek guardianship, especially if their child is developmentally disabled. Full v. limited guardianship In some states, full guardianship limits: Voting Obtaining a driver’s license Issue 5 - Transportation Requirements for a driver’s license- Written test Road test Motivation/Incentive Safety v. risk Assuring others that safety v. risk is not concern Issue 6 - Emergency Preparedness What do students do when parents are unavailable? Cell phone with pre-programmed alternative numbers Laminated wallet card with alternative numbers Safe house Self-Determination… Is NOT a model or program with predetermined services Differs from person to person Is person-centered and person- directed What is Self-Determination? The ultimate goal of education must be self-determination. Every individual with a disability must be encouraged and supported to participate in his/her service plan (IEP, IPE, etc.). Self-determination is important and is best learned through a specific curriculum. The literature shows that self-determination does have positive impact on post-secondary and quality of life outcomes, including helping students learn to make decisions, be assertive, and self-advocate. Self-determination is not… Something you do. Reflected in solely having choice or obtaining specific outcomes (i.e., living in own home). An excuse for protecting the health and safety of a vulnerable person with a disability Self-Determination is A process with the person with the disability taking control to the maximum extent possible with the minimum level of support. Mike’s definition of choice Choice requires a minimum of 3 options: A B – Something other than ‘not A’ Something other than A or B. Commonly known as “NONE OF THE ABOVE!” Suggestions to Increase S-D It is imperative that youth with disabilities have multiple opportunities to practice these skills and receive reinforcement from their parents as well as additional opportunities to practice outside the classroom. Suggestions to Increase S-D Do not to deny or limit a person's right to self-determination based on a label or classification. Service professionals must be trained in methods of supporting self-determination along with the philosophy for doing so. A Systems Shift Change the way we think about people with disabilities. From seeing persons with disabilities as having limitations that prevent them from participating fully in life to seeing them as valuable citizens who have many talents, strengths, and abilities to contribute to their communities. A Systems Shift Change the way we serve them. From seeing persons with disabilities as service recipients to seeing them as individuals with rights and entitlements.
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