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What happens when we focus on disabilities… …rather than abilities?

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Presentation on theme: "What happens when we focus on disabilities… …rather than abilities?"— Presentation transcript:


2 What happens when we focus on disabilities… …rather than abilities?

3 “Throughout my schooling, I was often written off by teachers as a class clown, a smart alec, or just someone who didn’t want to learn. I was called lazy, and unmotivated, and for the longest time I believed those labels, and thought that I didn’t belong in school.” Nathan Gulbransen Nathan GulbransenCalifornia Words from students

4 “It was hard not knowing what I could do, not knowing what I was good at. I was never let in to any of the discussion about anything that was going on with me. In school, I always heard ‘She has problems with this, she can't do this, she doesn't know how to do that.’ I never, ever heard anything good about me. (continue) Words from students

5 I could always only talk about my weaknesses, never about my strengths, because I never knew I had any. If someone asked me about my strengths, I wouldn't know. Growing up, I thought that there must have been something wrong that I did. I was too lazy or stupid. It was me.” Marta Cruz New York Words from students (continued)

6 Quick Partner Share Think about the 2 quotes & a student you know, or your son/daughter Briefly share: how have negative labels affected the student you know? Have you seen changes over the years in IEP practices – how we talk with and about our students?

7 Self-Determination… …refers to both the right and the capacity of individuals to exert control over and direct their lives. (Wehmeyer, 2004)

8 What does self-determination mean to students with disabilities?  Knowing & believing in yourself.  Knowing what you want your future to be like and how to make plans to achieve this future.  Knowing the supports that you need to take control of your life.

9 Freedom Authority Support Responsibility Confirmation The Center for Self-Determination The Principles of Self-Determination

10  Choice-making  Decision-making  Problem-solving  Goal-setting & attainment  Internal locus of control  Positive attributes of efficacy and outcomes expectancy  Self-Observation  Self-Evaluation  Self- Reinforcement  Self-Instruction  Self-Advocacy & Leadership  Self-Awareness  Self-Knowledge Combination of skills, knowledge & beliefs Core Components

11 Quick Activity With a partner, choose one of these tasks: Obtain a driver’s license Have a job interview Find a place to live Make a quick list – which of the components (previous slide) might be required to accomplish the task?

12 Did you know…? One year after high school: Students with self-determination skills twice as likely as those without the skills to be employed Earned on average $2 more per hour Lived more independently Obtained better job benefits (sick leave, health insurance, vacation) (Wehmeyer and Schwartz, 1997; Wehmeyer and Palmer, 2003)

13 My Needs Help with speech sounds My Interests I like playing my DS I like to play outside I like school Name: Aiden Address: DOB: Date: 03/2011 My Strengths I am a good listener I have learned a lot of speech sounds My Preferences Playing in centers helps me learn Speech class helps me

14 My Needs Test read aloud and copies notes. Spelling aides And a calculator My Interests CNA, RN Horse Working with people with disabilities. Reading Fishing and hanging out with Friends Name: Caroline Address: 5923 Old Forge Rd Rocky Mount Va DOB: May 25 Date: My Strengths Good with people Strong in Math Good with working with my hands. House work & cooking Farm work. Nursing My Preferences With hands on Seeing it done Hearing it helps And doing it

15 The Virginia Department of Education’s Self-Determination Project

16 Project Goals Improve attendance rates, graduation rates and have fewer discipline referrals in school settings Assist students in developing skills that will allow them to direct their own lives Increase disability and ability awareness

17 What schools are doing… Student-led IEPs One-pagers Student-led conferences Family events Presentations by youth speakers Mentoring programs Children’s literature

18 What else is happening? “Growing” youth leaders: Self-Determination Youth Summits; mentoring Building school sites: expansion from original sites to schools across Virginia Videos Website:


20 Video clip

21 Teachers – What Can YOU Do? Teach core components to ALL students Help your student understand their disability label Encourage students to attend and participate in their IEP meetings Incorporate self-determination as IEP goals

22 Examples: Self-determination skills in annual goals …Ashley will use PECS to indicate her choice of activity… …Brad will read his PLoP at IEP meetings… …Keira will identify two activities to assist her classroom focus… …Jordan will research the role of the campus Disability Resource Office…

23 Examples: Self-determination language in the PLoP …In an interview with her teacher, Maria stated she has difficulty with word problems and would like to have more time to complete her work. …I am interested in auto mechanics and would like to take some classes at the TEC in 10 th grade. …Beth communicates her preferences through the use of PECS; she can tell us which treat she would like after she completes her work.

24 Parents – What Can YOU Do?  Encourage your child to make choices about everyday activities.  Encourage your child to set priorities.  Help your child identify their interests, preferences and strengths.  Educate yourself and your child about rights.

25  Talk to your child about the process of goal setting including barriers that might be encountered.  Help your child understand the concept of accommodations and how they can help or hinder educational and career goals.  Talk to your child about their disability. Get teacher(s) involved to the extent you feel warranted. Parents – What Can YOU Do?

26 Quick Share – turn to your neighbor(s) 1. Something already going well or o.k. to develop and facilitate self- determination for students 2. A cool idea you’re excited about implementing

27 Final Words: Self-Determination means… That I will figure out a way to do anything I want to do. The ability to stand up for yourself and not depend on others. If you have confidence in yourself, you can make it through the hardest times.

28 Final Words: Self-Determination means… I set goals for myself and strive to fulfill those goals. When someone tells you that you can’t do something, you show them that you can.

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