Browse by



Self-Determination refers to the process of being in charge of one’s own life to the degree that an individual and that individual’s family unit believe is important. Self-Determination involves the capacity, the needed supports, and the opportunity provided for making choices and decisions that are individually determined to the greatest degree possible. The choices and decisions may be related to where we live, have a job, or spending leisure time, and may be made individually, or within a family or service-provision system.

Wehmeyer (1992, 1996) defines Self-Determination as “acting as the primary causal agent in one’s life and making choices and decisions regarding one’s quality of life free from undue external influence or interference.” A causal agent is someone who makes or causes things to happen in his or her life. This means that a person with or without disabilities should be encouraged to make choices that are important to them and that help these individuals to have a better life. It does not necessarily mean total and complete independence in any of these activities. But being self-determined does mean that when choices are made, the person making the choices must also consider the consequences and results of their actions.

When a person exhibits Self-Determination, their actions will reflect four essential characteristics: autonomous behavior – related to making choices and decisions, as needed, self-regulated behavior – having some personal control over actions, acting in a psychologically empowered manner – feeling capable and acting that way, and being self-realizing by understanding the effects of their own actions.

Recent Submissions

View more