In this chapter, you will learn recommendations for empowering families to promote self-determinism for their child, as well as the components of self-determinism.
How can teachers assist parents with promoting self-determination in their children? By Beth Schaffner
It is often difficult for parents to "let go" and take risks so their child can become his or her own person and be challenged to reach their potential (it is especially difficult for mothers in my experience!). I think parents need to be shown the possibilities for their child to become fully valued participants in all aspects of "regular" adult life as they transition. And then they also need to be assured that the supports will be there so their child can be happy and safe and healthy and will not be at risk to be hurt or victimized. And for parents to be open to the possibilities for their child, it really goes back to the respect piece - if parents feel respected as collaborators with the educators, then they will trust the educators. Then, by working together, parents and teachers can provide transitioning students with experiences where they can try their wings, take risks, be challenged to try harder for something they really want -- all of which will promote the students' self-determination.
What Research Says. . .
The Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT) published a position statement in which self-determination is defined as:
"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 oneself as capable and effective are essential to self-determination. When acting on the basis of these skills and attitudes, individuals have greater ability to take control of their lives and assume the role of successful adults (Field et al., 1998, p.2)."
**Adapted from M.L. Wehmeyer & M. Schwartz (1997). Self-determination and positive outcomes: A follow-up study of youth with mental retardation or learning disabilities. Exceptional Children, 63, 245-255, p.246
Field, S., Martin, J., Miller, R., Ward, M., & Wehmeyer, M. (1998). Self-determination for persons with disabilities: A position statement of the Division on Career Development and Transition. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 21(2), 113-128.
M.L. Wehmeyer & M. Schwartz (1997). Self-determination and positive outcomes: A follow-up study of youth with mental retardation or learning disabilities. Exceptional Children, 63, 245-255