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Self-determination and Disabled Students

Self-determination is defined as the "acquisition of attitudes, abilities, and skills that lead students to define their own goals" and implement them (Ward, 1988, in Price, Wolensky & Mulligan, 2002, p. 110). Since the late 1980s, the U.S. government has sought to promote the cultivation of self-determination of students with disabilities. For many years, the focus of self-determination was primarily limited to helping students with disabilities transition from school to the real world (Wehmeyer, Field, Doren, Jones & Mason, 2004). However, with the passage of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the promotion of self-determination has also extended to include participation in the individualized education program (IEP) meetings, the determination of the curriculum and instructional approaches, as well as the acquisition of learning and living skills (Harrison, Arnold & Love, 1997; Palmer, Wehmeyer, Gipson, & Agran, 2004).

In spite of the extensive support and promotion by the policymakers, self-determination skills and their instruction have not been incorporated into the school curricula and the school environment. Very often, they are not inserted into the IEPs. Although policymakers have recommended that students should be taught self-determination skills from an early age, they have mainly been taught at the high school level (Test et al., 2004). This phenomenon suggests the possibility that the promotion of self-determination of disabled people is not fully supported by all educators and other stakeholders in the education system. Therefore, in this paper, both the pros and the cons of the promotion of self-determination of disabled students will be presented and analyzed.

Proponents of the promotion of self-determination of disabled students have highlighted two key perspectives in support of self-determination models and programs. From a philosophical perspective, disabled students should b...

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Self-determination and Disabled Students. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 09:15, April 22, 2019, from