Teacher's Corner

Self-Determination

How can we contribute to the development of self-determined behaviours of people with intellectual disabilities?
 

“I went all the way through school but I didn’t learn it [self-determination] in school.”
Taken from an interview with people with an intellectual disability during a statewide

self-advocacy conference in Texas. (Shogren, K. & Broussard, R., 2011).

It is evident from research that self-determination is part of best practices and “teaching self-determination systematically to learners supports the premise that these skills be pursued as tenaciously as any other credible skill taught to students with disabilities.” (Campbell-Whatley, G., 2006). So how does one begin to teach self-determined skills to students with significant disabilities? Firstly, we must consider self-determination as a developmental process that begins in early childhood and continues to develop throughout adult life. As teachers, we need to promote the development of self-determined behaviours long before our students begin high school if we want our students to be prepared to become self-determined young adults

 

Self-Determination as a Developmental Process

 

The table to the right summarizes self-determined skills observed at different age groups of students without disabilities. Teachers should keep in mind that self-determination is a developmental process and that certain skills could be difficult or not to learn depending  on the cognitive abilities of the student. This table should be used as a baseline when planning to teach self-determined skills.

Developmental Components and Instructional Emphasis sections are taken from Field, S. & Al. (1998). (taken from Practical Guide for Teaching Self-Determination. Division on Career Development and Transition. Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, Virginia.)

Developmental Components and Instructional Emphasis sections are taken from Field, S. & Al. (1998). (taken from Practical Guide for Teaching Self-Determination. Division on Career Development and Transition. Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, Virginia.)

DEVELOPMENT AND ACQUISITION OF SELF-DETERMINED BEHAVIOUR

Developmental progression of nine antecedent abilities of self-determined behaviour

 

The following table “describes the most important developmental steps in an age by-competency matrix. By reading across the rows, it is possible to follow the developmental progression of each component element from the preschool years through adolescence. By reading down the columns, one can find the primary developmental markers for all component elements within a discrete age group. (Doll, B & Al., in Self-determination Across the Life Span, 1996).

A developmental approach to teaching skills should not be associated to the cognitive abilities but rather to their chronological age. The above table should be used as a reference to guide instructional activities that are ‘age appropriate’. Adaptive means are strongly recommend to support student’s achievement. “Understanding the development of component elements of self-determination, in conjunction with an understanding of individual needs, can be a springboard for articulating age-appropriate activities that are useful for promoting self-determination.” (Doll, B & Al., in Self-determination Across the Life Span, 1996).

 

Interventions/strategies to promote self-determined behaviour

in students with Intellectual Disabilities

 

 The following table offers user-friendly tips that paraprofessionals can use to promote the self-determination of students with disabilities at the elementary and secondary levels. 

 

Resources

 

The I’m Determined project, a state directed project funded by the Virginia Department of Education, focuses on providing direct instruction, models, and opportunities to practice skills associated with self-determined behaviour.  http://www.imdetermined.org/#sthash.vk5ciazR.dpbshttp://www.imdetermined.org/quick_links/modules/module_five#sthash.Pooh0hkJ.dpbs

 

Whose Future is it? - A research-based curriculum for adolescents to learn self-determination and self-awareness, and transition into adulthood  https://www.attainmentcompany.com/whose-future

Self-Determination Assessment Tools http://www.ou.edu/content/education/centers-and-partnerships/zarrow/self-determination-assessment-tools.html

 

MAPS - McGill Action Planning System http://njcie.org.s160251.gridserver.com/wp-content/uploads/Plotting-Your-Course-MAPS-Guide.pdf

Next S.T.E.P. - Student Transition and Educational Planning  https://www.transitioncoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/NEXT-Step.pdf 

Footnotes:

 

1.  Wehmeyer, M. L., & Field, S. L. (2007). Self-determination: Instructional and assessment strategies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

 

3.  Wehmeyer, M. L., Agran, M., Hughes, C., Martin, J. E., Mithaug, D. E., & Palmer, S. B. (2007). Promoting Self-Determination in students with developmental disabilities. New York: Guilford Press.

 

4.  Wehmeyer, M. L., Agran, M., Hughes, C., Martin, J. E., Mithaug, D. E., & Palmer, S. B. (2007). Promoting Self-Determination in students with Developmental Disabilities. New York: Guilford Press.

 

5.  Wehmeyer, M. L., Agran, M., Hughes, C., Martin, J. E., Mithaug, D. E., & Palmer, S. B. (2007). Promoting Self-Determination in students with Developmental Disabilities. New York: Guilford Press.

 

6.  Bandura,A. (1993). Perceived Self-Efficacy in Cognitive Development and Functioning. Educational Psychologist. Vol.  28(2), p. 117-148.

References

Campbell-Whatley, G. (2006). Why am I in special education and what can I do about it?: Helping
students develop self-determination. Teaching Exceptional Children Plus, 3(2) Article 4.

 

Loman, S. & Al. (2010). Promoting Self-Determination: A Practice Guide. University of Oregon. http://ngsd.org/sites/default/files/promoting_self-determination_a_practice_guide.pdf

Doll, B., Sands, D.J., Wehmeyer, M.L., & Palmer, S. (1996). Promoting the Development and Acquisition of Self-Determined Behaviour. In Self-Determination Across the Life Span - Independence and Choice for People with Disabilities. Brooke's Publishing Baltimore, Maryland.

Field, S. & Al. (1998). A Practical Guide for Teaching Self-Determination. Division on Career Development and Transition. Division of the Council for Exceptional Children.Virginia.

McDougall J., Evans J., Baldwin P. (2010). The importance of self-determination to perceived quality of life for youth and young adults with chronic conditions and disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, Vol. 31, p. 252–260.

Shogren, K.A., (2013). Self-Determination and Transition Planning. Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. Baltimore

Stancliffe, R. J., & Wehmeyer, M. L. (1995). Vari- ability in the availability of choice to adults with mental retardation. Journal of Vocational Rehabili- tation, 5, 319–328.

 

Ward, J. (2005). An Historical Perspective of Self-Determination in Special EducationL Accomplishments and Challenges. Research & Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities. Vo. 30, No. 3, p. 108-112.

Wehmeyer, M.L. (1998). Self-Determinaiton and Individuals with Significant Disabilities: Examining Meanings and Misinterpretations. Research and Practices for Persons with Severe Disabilities, Vol. 23, No. 1, 5-16

Wehmeyer, M.L. (1999). A functional model of self-determination: Describing development and implementing instruction. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, Vol.14, p. 53-61.

Wehmeyer, M.L. (2007). Promoting Self Determination in Students with Developmental Disabilities. Guilford Press. New York.

Wehmeyer, M.L. & Field, S.L. (2007). Self-Determination - Instructional and Assessment Strategies. Corwin Press, California.

Centre of Excellence for the Intellectually,

Physically & Multi-Challenged 2017