The Self-Determination course was created to teach self-determination skills and achieve individualized life goals. It is composed of 34 lesson plans with workbooks and exercises that guide the participants through their Self Determined Life Planning process. The Self-Determination course helps the participant develop and learn how to achieve new goals and improve their quality of life.

Using evidence-based research from Wehmeyer, Agran, & Hughes (1998, 2012), the course focuses on four essential characteristics to help participants become self-determined:

  • Behavioural autonomy
    A behaviour is autonomous if the person is acting according to their own preferences, interests, and/or abilities in an independent manner, free from undue external influence
  • Self-regulated behaviours
    This includes self-management strategies (such as self-monitoring, self-instruction, self-evaluation, self-reinforcement), goal setting and attainment behaviours, and problem solving behaviours
  • Acting in a psychologically empowered manner
    People do so on the belief that 1) they have control over circumstances that are important to them; 2) they possess skills necessary to achieve desired outcomes; and 3) if they choose to apply those skills, the identified outcomes will occur
  • Self-realization
    Use a comprehensive and reasonably accurate, knowledge of themselves and their strengths and limitations to act in such a manner as to capitalize on this knowledge

Utilizing a self-advocacy framework of instruction (Test et al, 2005), the facilitators/teachers teach the participants to recognize their interests, strengths, needs, learning style and the key features of their disability/diversity. The course also focuses on individuals’ rights, so that they may advocate for them. In order to do that, the facilitator teaches the participants communications skills such as listening, conveying their thoughts, persuading, compromising, negotiating, and being assertive. Finally, the participants are encouraged to showcase their leadership and are given opportunities to take charge of their own lives and develop action plans to reach their goals and dreams in multiple life domains.

The end result of the sessions for each participant is a deeper understanding of their:

  • Self-awareness
  • Emotions and values as well as strengths and limitations
  • Ability to manage emotions and behaviours to achieve their goals
  • Social awareness
  • Understanding of others in a social context
  • Positive relationships, working in teams, dealing effectively with conflict
  • Responsible decision-making
  • Ethical, constructive choices about personal and social behaviour