Self Determination

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Self-determination skills are one of the most critical contributing factors to the successful transition of youth and young adults with disabilities. Youth need self-determination skills in order to have control over their lives and to be empowered to make informed decisions and actions in all aspects of their lives.

Click on the resources listed below to learn more about self-determination supports.

Self Determination

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Skills and Strategies

  • Understand and be able to describe your disability
  • Identify what your needs/fears are in school and the community
  • Explain who helps you in school and the community
  • Know what an IEP meeting is and participate in your IEP meeting

Self Determination

For12_14

Skills and Strategies

  • Explain how your disability impacts your daily life
  • Describe what accommodations you use
  • Explain how your accommodations help you
  • Provide information at your IEP meeting regarding how you learn, your likes, dislikes, and dreams

Self Determination

For14_15

Skills and Strategies

  • Participate in assessments and understand how the results relate to your transition plan
  • Become an active member on your IEP team (student-led IEP)
  • Identify and begin coordination of supports/create a circle of support
  • Appropriately express needs and wants

Self Determination

For15_16

Skills and Strategies

  • Continue involvement in the assessment process – state how these results relate to your postsecondary goals
  • Describe issues related to self-disclosure (when, what, how)
  • Continue leading your IEP – include areas related to AT, Health Care, and Transportation in your IEP
  • Define self-success

Self Determination

For16_17

Skills and Strategies

  • Realize and understand barriers and solutions
  • Independently discuss necessary accommodations and supports with high school staff
  • Understand adult rights and responsibilities
  • Continue leading IEP meeting – provide input into your IEP goal development

Self Determination

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Skills and Strategies

  • Direct personal assistance services
  • Understand cultural diversity
  • Understand and use cause and effect strategies
  • Consider others’ points of view
  • Further develop self-advocacy skills as they relate to your postsecondary goals
  • Assume adult rights and responsibilities

Resources

Self Determination

Parent Tips for Transition Planning
This resource explains the purpose of transition planning, answers frequently asked questions, and contains guided questions that support effective transition plan development.
The 411 on Disability Disclosure: A Workbook for Youth With Disabilities
This workbook helps youth to understand what it means to disclose a disability, make informed decisions about disclosing, and the impact disclosure can have on education, employment, and social life.
Going to College: A Resource for Teens with Disabilities Website
This website contains information about living college life with a disability. Designed for high school students, the site provides video clips, activities, and additional resources that can help youth get a head start in planning for college.
Kids' Corner: Have You Ever Wondered What It's Like to Have a Disability?
Developed by the Center for Disability Information & Referral (CeDIR) and the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University, Bloomington, this website shares books, stories, films, games, and more to help children learn about disabilities.
People First K-5 Elementary Guide to Understanding Disabilities
This booklet is for kids with or without disabilities and for the adults who work with them. The booklet helps children to learn the best words or phrases to use when talking about their own disability or someone else's. The booklet also provides a basic model for understanding what it means to have a disability and how to treat others with disabilities.
An Educational Journey from Self-Discovery to Advocacy
This handbook was created for high school students with disabilities as an instructional tool to use in developing self-advocacy skills and transition planning. The handbook contains guided resources and worksheets that assist students to develop disability awareness, learn to advocate, plan for their career, establish community connections, and participate in their IEP meetings.
Guidance and Career Counselors' Toolkit: Advising High School Students with Disabilities on Postsecondary Options
This resource contains answers to counselors' most frequently asked questions about postsecondary opportunities for students with disabilities. Students and families are also encouraged to sue this toolkit to help guide their college and career transition planning.
The Best Me I Can Be Discussion Guide
Skills to Pay the Bills Video Vignettes
Click on this link to access a series of free video vignettes produced by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy to accompany its "Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success" curriculum.
A Path to Community Living Handbook
Developed by DC's Office of Disability Rights, A Path to Community Living Handbook was designed to assist people with disabilities to identify the services and supports they might need to successfully live in the community.
The Guideposts for Success: A Framework for Families Preparing Youth for Adulthood
Developed by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, this InfoBrief shares how the Guideposts for Success can be used as a framework from which families of youth with disabilities can consider the support needs of their youth during the transition planning process.
Charting the Course: Supporting the Career Development of Youth with Learning Disabilities
Developed by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, the Guideposts for Success for Youth with Learning Disabilities provides guidance to caring adults and youth service professionals for improving services and outcomes for youth, ages 14 to 25, with diagnosed and undiagnosed learning disabilities.
Suggestions for Participation in the IEP Process
Written for students, this pamphlet provides a list of suggestions for how elementary and secondary students can participate before, during, and after their IEP meetings.
Self-Determination Tips for Parents
This one-pager shares tips on how to encourage self-determined behavior and suggestions on how to speak with students about their disabilities.
Self-Determination Checklist: Elementary Student Self-Assessment
This brief age-appropriate checklist helps students to measure their self-determination skills.
Self-Determination Checklist: Elementary Educator Self-Assessment
This checklist assists educators in assessing their students' self-determination levels through survey statements about student habits and beliefs.
Self-Determination Checklist: Elementary Parent Assessment
This short checklist helps parents to measure their children's self-determination levels by rating statements about their children's habits and beliefs.
Empowerment Through Engagement: Implementing Student-led IEPs
This short paper describes an Illinois educator's experience with implementing student-led IEPs.
Student-led IEP Meetings: Planning and Implementation Strategies
This CEC article explores the benefits and obstacles of IEP implementation and shares activity ideas for promoting student-led IEPs.
Ten Tips That May Help Your Child's Transition to Adulthood
This resource offers advice to parents on how to support their child's successful transition to postsecondary education, employment, and independent living.
Whose Future Is It Anyway?
Who's Future Is It Anyway? helps prepare students for their IEP meetings and gain self-determination skills through six sections that contain 36 lesson sessions. This free lesson package comes with a Coach's Guide that outlines the lessons, how to teach them, the roles of the students and teachers, as well as expected outcomes.
A Student's Guide to the IEP
Written especially for students, this NICHCY guide teaches students about the IEP process and includes tips for IEP development and meeting participation.
Tips for Raising a Self-Determined Child
Tips on teaching self-determination skills to youth with disabilities from family members who have participated in Virginia's I'm Determined project.
I'm Determined: Understanding and Preparing for My IEP
This brief differentiated guide is designed to teach students about the various components of their Individualized Education Program (IEP).
An Introduction to Self-Determination for Families
This presentation introduces families to the concept of self-determination and includes tips for teaching youth about their disability and the IEP process.
Transfer of Rights Fact Sheet
Created by the Quality Trust and University Legal Services, this fact sheet shares information about supported decision-making and educational powers of attorney as options for youth who are approaching age 18.
Opening Doors to Self-Determination Skills
This free downloadable workbook, developed by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction assists students with developing self-determination skills that will enable them to be successful in life.
Help Your Young Adult Learn About Accessing Accommodations after high school
This brochure shares three ways you can help your son or daughter learn how to understand, manage, and explain his or her disability to others and obtain needed accommodations.
ME! Lessons for Teaching Self-Awareness and Self-Advocacy
The ME! Lessons for Teaching Self-Awareness and Self-Advocacy materials and activities teach students to understand their disability and abilities, rights and responsibilities, and self-advocacy skills. The ME! Lessons include detailed lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations, pencil paper activities, interactive group activities, performance assessments, and a research project.
My Mental Health Rights on Campus
This tip sheet shares information students will need to address rights, rules, and resources while at college.
I Get What I Want: A Handbook on Self-Advocacy
This illustrated student handbook shares the basic concepts of self-advocacy.
Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network Secondary Transition Toolkit
A toolkit designed by youth with disabilities who are members of Pennsylvania's Youth Leadership Network to assist youth with transitioning into the adult world.
Teacher Tips for Student-led IEP Implementation
A tip sheet for teachers interested in implementing student-led IEPs.
Student-led IEP Action Plan Template
Educators can use this graphic organizer to create action plans, including goals and activities, for each student.
Special Needs: Kids Who Need Extra Help
Staff at the Ivymount School created these PowerPoint slides to teach students about their disabilities and needs.
Helping Students Develop Their IEPs
NICHCY created this guide to assist educators and families with helping students become involved in developing their own IEPs. The guide includes worksheets, activities, and information for talking to students about their disabilities.
How You Can Help Your Child Learn to be a Good Self-Advocate
This PACER Center information sheet for parents defines self-advocacy, shares examples of ways youth can be involved, and suggests questions for parents to discuss with their son/daughter.
Be Your Own Best Advocate
Created for students, this PACER Center information sheet shares information about self-advocacy, why it is important, how and when to be a self-advocate, and resources for learning more.
Building a Bridge: A Resource Manual for High School Students
This handbook, created by the Connecticut Transition Task Force, aims to help students and family members to prepare for life after high school and includes personal checklists youth can use to get to know themselves.
What Are Student Roles and Responsibilities in an IEP Meeting?
This fact sheet outlines the roles and responsibilities of the student before, during, and after a student-led IEP meeting.
What Are Parent/Guardian Roles and Responsibilities in an IEP Meeting?
This fact sheet outlines the roles and responsibilities of the parents/guardians before, during, and after a student-led IEP meeting.
What Are Educator Roles and Responsibilities in an IEP Meeting?
This fact sheet outlines the roles and responsibilities of the school staff members before, during, and after a student-led IEP meeting.
Get Started Now: A Practical Guide for DC Students with Disabilities
Navigating College: A Handbook on Self-Advocacy Written for Autistic Students from Autistic Adults
Becoming a Stronger Self-Advocate (Youth in Action!)
This tip sheet for youth provides action steps for becoming a self-advocate.
Leading Your Transition Planning
This tip sheet for youth provides action steps for leading their own transition planning.
Learning Disability History (Youth in Action!)
This tip sheet for youth provides action steps for learning about disability history.
Help Your Young Adult Learn About Accessing Accommodations After High School
This tip sheet shares ways in which families can help young adults to understand, manage, and explain their disability to others and obtain needed accommodations.
Disability Rights Virtual Exhibit
This website, hosted by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, features an online museum of disability rights information and exhibit items.
20 Ways to Involve Students in the IEP Process
How Can My Child Be Involved in the IEP Process?
Attending Meetings to Plan Your Child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)
I'm Determined: Understanding and Preparing for My IEP
A product of Virginia's I'm Determined project, this differentiated guide helps students to prepare for IEP participation.
OSSE Secondary Transition Process Toolkit
Refer to this helpful resource for more information on how to involve students throughout the transition planning process.
Secondary Transition Assessment Resources
This resource provides an overview of transition assessments which can be considered a beginning library of transition assessments for providing high quality assessment. Many of the assessments are free, and those that must be purchased were selected for their quality and cost-benefit. OSSE does not have an approved list; however, this guide serves as a list of secondary transition assessments available to educators.