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Transition in the Community: Self-Determination in Kansas Presented at the Annual Interhab Conference October 7, 2005. Denise Poston [email protected] 785-864-7601. Susan Palmer [email protected] 785-864-0270. Beach Center on Disability University of Kansas

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Transition in the Community: Self-Determination in KansasPresented at the Annual Interhab ConferenceOctober 7, 2005

Denise Poston

[email protected]


Susan Palmer

[email protected]


Beach Center on Disability

University of Kansas

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Essential Questions

  • What is self-determination?

  • What does self-determination contribute to transition from school life to community living?

  • What does the research tell us about transition and self-determination?

  • How does support for involvement of a person with disabilities work in real life?

  • How do A.J. and Denise navigate the community to provide access for a good quality of life?

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One way to characterize Self-Determination

Wehmeyer, M.L. (1996).

Self-determination refers to “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.

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Self Determination

as a Functional Outcome:

  • Enables individuals to become self-sufficient, self regulated learners.

  • Empowers people to take greater control of their own learning and life skills.

  • Increases person-centered involvement in schools and communities.

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IDEA ’97 Transition Services Definition

Student involvement language in IDEA

Transition services are a coordinated set of activities for a student designed within an outcomes-oriented process, which promotes movement from school to post-school activities.

Transition activities must be based upon the individual student's needs, while taking into account the student’s preferences and interests.

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Self-Determination Supports

Standards-Based Learning

Standards in many districts include self-determination-related skills such as problem-solving and decision-making.

Instruction in self-determination serves as an entry point to the general curriculum for students with intellectual disabilities.

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Essential Characteristics of Self-Determined Behavior


Teach Component Elements of Self-Determined Behavior

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Component Elements of

Self-Determined Behavior

Choice-Making Skills

Decision-Making Skills

Problem-Solving Skills

Goal-Setting and Attainment Skills

Independence, Risk-Taking and Safety Skills

Self-Observation and Self-Evaluation Skills

Self-Reinforcement Skills

Self-Instruction Skills

Self-Advocacy and Leadership Skills



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Essential Characteristics of

Self-Determined Behavior

  • Make choices and decisions as needed.

  • Exhibit some personal or internal control over actions.

  • Feel capable and act that way.

  • Understand the effects of own actions.

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Self-Determination After High School

High self-determination group was more likely to maintain both a checking and a saving account than the low self-determination group.

Wehmeyer, M., & Schwartz, M. (1997). Self-determination and positive adult outcomes: A follow-up study of youth with mental retardation and learning disabilities. Exceptional Children, 63(2), 245-255.

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How Important Is Self-Determination?

Current Employment Status

Ex-students in high self-determination group were more likely to be employed than their peers in the low self-determination group.

Wehmeyer, M., & Schwartz, M. (1997). Self-determination and positive adult outcomes: A follow-up study of youth with mental retardation and learning disabilities. Exceptional Children, 63(2), 245-255.

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Transition Using Self-DeterminationHelps Students:

  • Learn to be advocates for themselves & others.

  • Become problem-solvers & decision-makers.

  • Be a part of their IEP team.

  • Become self-regulated learners.

  • Have a vision for the future & set goals to achieve it.

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Self determination emerges…

  • By enhancing capacity using component elements of self-determined behavior (choice-making, problem- solving skills).

  • By being in an environment that supports choice and student-involvement.

  • By having frequent experiences that include choice and student involvement.

  • By providing supports and accommodations.

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My Life, My Way – Planning for Life After High School

  • AJ’s Dream Life

  • Realities – How we are getting there

  • Coordinating and paying for AJ’s dream life

  • It takes a lot of work and advocacy.

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Marshalling ResourcesWhat Do We Have to Work With?

  • Individual Resources

    • Time, money, motivation, experience, strengths

  • Community Resources

    • KU organizations, students, and faculty

    • People and their connections

  • Government benefits

    • SSI

    • Section 8 Housing

    • HCBS

  • Food stamps

  • School

  • Vocational Rehabilitation

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AJ’s Dream Life

  • Work

  • Home

  • Well-Being

  • Friends

  • Fun

  • Family

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Work – AJ’s Dream

  • “I want to be a manager”

  • “I want to write people up”

  • “On Monday, on Tuesday, on Wednesday. . . .”

  • “I want to earn $100”

  • “No thank you”

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Work – The Reality

  • This tells us he wants

    • Choice and control, authority

    • Variety

    • Competitive wage

  • He is clear about what he doesn’t want

  • Behavior – completing tasks and interpersonal

  • Pet Store, video rental, preschool volunteer, own business

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Work - Marshalling Resources

  • Support from teacher and paras in current job

  • Day supports, PA supports, or Individual control of HCBS funds can pay for job development and supportive employment (job coaches)

  • KU Connection

  • Building his work experience and skills

  • How and when do we tie in vocational rehabilitation?

  • Getting community employers to hire AJ

  • How might we help AJ develop his own business?

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Home – AJ’s Dream

  • “I’ll live in my own apartment with a pool and pets”

  • “No lawn to mow. I want a housekeeper”

  • “Wife and 2 children (or pretty girls) for roommates”

  • “The old house in Leavenworth – buy it for $100”

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Home – The Reality

  • Sharing a duplex with 2 men

  • Only Henry the tortoise, cat with Mom, dog still a dream

  • No lawn to mow

  • Nice room with lots of space – all his furniture and videos

  • The next steps – pets, roommates closer to his age, less in-home supports, increased skills (self and home care)

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Home - Marshalling Resources

  • SSI pays for his share of rent and utilities.

  • Applying for food stamps.

  • On waiting list for low-income housing (Section 8) voucher. Will he have to move to use it?

  • Might he want to own his own home? Programs available to help him buy a home in the future.

  • Roommate, assistants, school staff teaching skills to live more independently.

  • Monitoring equipment?

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Well-Being_ AJ’s Dream

  • “I don’t want to be old, sick and tired”

  • “I am handsome”

  • AJ has no concrete vision in this area

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Well-Being - The Reality

  • AJ’s team needs to translate this for him

  • How to balance his desires with health - diet and exercise

  • Lawrence Athletic Club, monthly massage therapy, swimming, limit sweets and fat (low fat, sugar free, veggie pizzas)

  • Increase his awareness and skills

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Well-Being - Marshalling Resources

  • Well-Being

    • Mom pays for LAC membership and massage. Medicaid might be able to if they were determined to be medically necessary.

    • Mom’s health insurance pays for health care.

    • Hard to find doctors who accept Medicaid in Lawrence.

    • Friends and others do more active activities (bike riding, canoeing, hiking, yoga).

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Friends – AJ’s Dream

  • “Margaret will marry me. We’ll have a boy and girl. A cat and a dog.”

  • The world is made up of 2 kinds of people --girls and everyone else. Only girls are worth noticing.

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Friends – The Reality

  • Margaret is AJ’s friend, but not a “girlfriend”.

  • A few other friends, but the “girlfriend” trumps all others.

  • AJ can easily become obsessed with a girl

  • How can he learn to value guy friends and groups of friends?

  • Learning how to be a friend to others.

  • How to encourage friendships – not just paid supports or “volunteer projects”.

  • Currently a weak area, but the most important in terms of AJ’s future

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Friends - Marshalling Resources

  • Teacher helps facilitate friendships at school

  • KU Connection

  • Natural Ties and Best Buddies

  • AJ has many strengths, but behavior a major challenge

  • Short of resources in this area.

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Fun – AJ’s Dream

  • “Playing video games”

  • “Eating out”

  • “Watching cartoons”

  • “Hanging out on Mass. Street”

  • “Buying some games”

  • “Get my drivers license so I can go anywhere”

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Fun – The Reality

  • What’s wrong with letting him sit home and play video games?

  • Everything he likes to do costs money

  • Transportation – public and support providers.

  • AJ has interests, but seems limited

  • Activities help keep AJ’s behavior under control, but if denied a preferred activity, then aggression may occur

  • Preferred people (girls) can be motivating

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Fun - Marshalling Resources

  • AJ is learning that he has to make choices with his money. SSI funds do not go very far.

  • Creative ideas of support people – encourage him to try new things.

  • Looking for a replacement for high school dances.

  • KU Connection next year – open up new opportunities.

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Family – AJ’s Dream

  • “Mom, you come and take me out”

  • “Mom, I hate you”

  • “Dad come to Lawrence, visit me here”

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Family – The Reality

  • Mom linked to AJ’s obsessions and aggressive behavior

  • Establishing new ways of being together - contact, but not too close

  • AJ visits Dad in TX at holidays. Enjoys, but says he doesn’t want to go.

  • Planning for future – planned family, not just blood family.

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Family - Marshalling Resources

  • Mom’s role changing from managing daily life to helping AJ set vision for future

  • Keeping connected with family (other than Mom) takes effort

  • What role will his brother take in his future?

  • How do we integrate modest family financial resources without compromising AJ’s benefits?