Free Self Determination For Those People With Significant Disabilities Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Disability, Skills, People, Ability, Determination, Psychology, Self-Determination, Life

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2021/02/14


Self-determination refers to the ability of a person to be able to determine their own course of action without being compelled to do so and hence be able to determine their own fate. Conventionally, the term was used in reference to granting nations the right to self-ruling. In later years the term was adopted by advocates of disability rights to refer to the right of people with disability to have a control over their lives. In reference to people with disability it refers to them being entitled to the same respect as people that do not have any disability. Hence it includes putting into account the wishes, choices and aspirations of the person with the disability when it comes to decisions and actions that affect them (Getzel and Thoma, 2008).). Disability is increasingly being viewed as a natural part of the human experience the boundaries that were traditionally put between disabled people and the rest of the population are increasingly reducing due to increased social awareness and acceptance and it is seen not to in any way diminish the individual’s rights to live an independent life, have self-determination, contribute productively to the society and have a chance to pursue a career, political ambition and be integrated into the mainstream educational system and economic system. There are several essential characteristics of self-determination and this paper targets them.


The first characteristic necessary to develop self –determination is that of behavioral autonomy. As a human being develops they naturally tend to progressively move from dependence on other people such as their parents and other care givers for guidance and care to more self-direction and self-care. It involves a process of emotionally separating from ones parents that occurs progressively and the individual being able to gain control over their own personal value system and by extension their life and hence be able to execute behaviors that are necessary for survival in the adult world. Without undue external influence the individual is able to pursue their own interests and preferences. Wehmeyer (2007) identifies categories of behavioral autonomy as follows: Family and self-care activities that include activities that are executed on a daily basis in the family such as routinely taking care of one’s hygiene, personal effects to other activities that involve the whole family such as preparation of meals, performance of house hold chores, shopping, and repairs among other chores. Self-management activities refers to the extent to which an individual is able to independently interact with their environment such as being able to appropriately make use of community resources and fulfill their responsibilities and obligations to their community. It includes the ability for one to be trusted to be out of the watch of other people and cause no harm to other people or property Behavioral autonomy can be reflected in recreational activities by the extent to which a person is able to use their personal preferences in choosing the social or vocational activities to be engaged in. People with disability show limited ability to express their behavioral autonomy (Nota et al, 2007). Most people with disability cite the ability to make choices as an important aspect of self-determination. People with severe disability have the least ability to make choices and hence this leaves them with the least autonomy. People with mild disability are more able to make choices. To increase the chances of choice making in disabled, these people can be achieved by increasingly the instances in which the disabled are encouraged to make their own choices as opposed to assuming that they have limited ability to do so and going ahead to make the choices for them.
The second characteristic necessary to develop self –determination is that of self-regulated behavior. This is the capacity of any individual to develop a response system that aids the person in examining their environment and judge their array of responses that would enable them to survive in their environment. It enables one to make important decisions on how one act, weather to act and where possible change their plans of action if it will not lead them to their desired outcome. It includes the ability of a person for self-instruction, evaluation, monitoring and reinforcement. One is able to identify problems, determine their means of solving the problems that they meet on the way and be able to acquire new learning strategies that are observable and hence be the causal agent of their lives. To be able to take a choice one must be exposed to a list of relevant alternatives of actions, analyzing the consequences of these alternatives and the probability of these consequences occurring when a certain decision is made and being able to choose the most viable decision(Shogren et al ,2006).Most people with severe disability are barred from making decisions due to the perception that they lack the competence to do so especially when they do suffer from a disability that affects their cognitive ability. It is presumed that in a perfect situation people with disability are allowed the power to make decisions. Depending on the extent of disability more so when the disability affects one’s cognitive ability then the person can be allowed to make simple decisions such as what to wear eat but may not make a choice on where to live or do for recreation among other major decisions.
The third characteristic necessary to develop self –determination is that of psychologically empowered. This refers to the expression of the ability to show control of one’s cognitive, personality and motivational domains. When a person is psychologically empowered they act based on a belief that they do have a control over circumstances that are important in their lives. They do have the necessary skills to achieve the outcomes that they do desire and they have faith that if they apply the skills that they plan to apply they will achieve the desired outcomes. Psychological empowerment is highly dependent on a person’s attitudes and ability. Both of these are quite attainable to people that are normal but when there exists a cognitive disability then this becomes highly compromised. When a person is empowered then they are able to solve their problems. To be able to be psychologically empowered a person must have to be some degree of control of their cognitive ability (Arellano and Peralta, 2013 ).The ability to be psychologically empowered is greatly compromised when a person suffers from a disability that compromises their cognitive ability such as mental retardation. Depending on the level of the mental retardation then the disabled person may completely lack the ability to be psychologically empowered or experience it to a limited extent.
The fourth characteristic necessary to develop self –determination is that of self-realization. This refers to the ability of self-recognition and the ability to reasonably, comprehensively and accurately use the knowledge of one’s strengths and limitations to explore one’s full potential by capitalizing on this knowledge of their own inbuilt abilities. People that have reached the level of self-realization are able to use the knowledge of who they are to interpret their experiences and their environment. Disabilities that affect a person’s cognitive ability will to a great extend compromise a person’s self-knowledge and hence affect the attainment of self-realization. Persons with severe disability need a lot of encouragement to be able to achieve self-realization. This is availed in the form of assigning the person with disability tasks and encouraging them to work towards accomplishing the tasks and in so doing they will be able to recognize their strengths and learn to overcome their limitations. Through the support of the family the disabled people can be encouraged to interact with the environment and other people outside their immediate family to increase their level of self-realization.
The fifth characteristic necessary to develop self –determination is the ability to set and attain the set goals. If one is to succeed as the causal agent of their lives they must set goals to achieve at any given phase of their lives. Goals enable one to be a causal agent in their lives by striving to produce a purposeful outcome out of a performed action. Objectives that are set should be achievable, specific, and measurable and reflect an aim that the person wants to achieve. Also a person should be able to visually track their progress on attainment of the set goal. Goals are seen as the regulator of human behavior. Goal setting and achievement have been shown to improve the performance of a person in an activity. In the learning set up goal setting has been shown to greatly improve the performance of learners with cognitive disabilities. When they are given a chance to determine the expected outcomes of their learning experiences then their performance is greatly improved in the various aspects of their learning experience due to the feeling of control in the learning aspect of their lives (Wehmeyer, 2007).


In conclusion all human beings seek to achieve self-determination as it marks the transition of an individual from childhood to adulthood. Most people are able to achieve this without many problems. People with disability that does not affect their cognitive ability are also able to achieve self-determination just like the rest of the population. However when the disability affects one’s cognitive ability then achievement of self-determination can be quite hard for an individual to achieve but with constant support from people surrounding the disabled person they are able to show remarkable achievement of self-determination.


Arellano, A., & Peralta, F. (2013). Self-determination of young children with intellectual disability: understanding parents' perspectives. British Journal of Special Education, 40(4), 175-181. doi:10.1111/1467-8578.12037
Getzel, E. E., & Thoma, C. A. (2008). Experiences of college students with disabilities and the importance of self-determination in higher education settings. Career development for exceptional individuals, 31(2), 77-84.
Nota, L., Ferrari, L., Soresi, S., & Wehmeyer, M. (2007). Self-determination, social abilities and the quality of life of people with intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 51(11), 850-865. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2788.2006.00939.x
Shogren, K. A., Wehmeyer, M. L., Buchanan, C. L., & Lopez, S. J. (2006). The Application of Positive Psychology and Self-Determination to Research in Intellectual Disability: A Content Analysis of 30 Years of Literature. Research & Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 31(4), 338-345.
Wehmeyer, M. L. (2007). Promoting self-determination in students with developmental disabilities. Guilford Press.

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