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Self determination: the ingredients

by Mary Mazzoni on March 28, 2012

We’ve seen what self determination looks like through the eyes of young adults who are loving life after IEPs.

What’s their secret recipe?

Everyone’s idea of a great life is unique.

But there are some essential ingredients for self determination. Skills and experiences that combine to prepare kids for a tasty life after IEPs.

You’ll find them listed here.


Wondering why these self determination ingredients are so important? Check out this article from the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET).


OK. So we agree kids need these kinds of self determination experiences as they grow. How else will they learn?

But do we give them opportunities to make their own goals and plans, and speak up for themselves in every day life? Especially if they have challenges with communication or emotional self regulation, or if they have an intellectual disability?

We can start small. One simple method you may want to try is called Think-Plan-Do.

Curious about how kids can take a leading role in their IEP? Click here. You’ll find videos of kids and parents, and you’ll find a PowerPoint template that can support kids of every age and every skill level to have a voice in their own IEP.

You’ll also find a growing number of posts in the self determination section of this blog to get you thinking about how your child can cook up some self determination at home, at school and in the community.

It can get messy

Clearly, kids are going to make some mistakes when they make their own choices and speak up for themselves. And it takes some effort on our part to give them opportunities to try. And sometimes to fail. And to try again.

It’s kind of like making dinner with a young child. It may not be the most efficient way to cook. The results may not turn out exactly as we’d prefer. And sometimes, things will get messy.

Let’s try to enjoy the process. And let’s remember that if our kids get lots of opportunities to work with these ingredients, the end result will be a future they find delicious.

Your turn

How do you give your child practice in the self determination kitchen? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

Find this post helpful? Please share it. Thanks!

Photo by on fotoosvanrobin at Flickr


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