Self-Determination and Self-Advocacy

Definition: All students develop the skills, behaviors, and attitudes, through direct instruction and/or added support, as necessary, that enable students to learn and grow in self-knowledge, social interactions, physical and emotional health, and self-determination.


  • Self-determination skills training: decision-making, self-regulation, goal setting, problem-solving, and self-advocacy
  • Understanding your disability and how it impacts you
  • Social skills
  • Disclosure
  • Disability history

Videos about learning disabilities

A series of 6:00 – 8:00-minute videos by Dr. Sheldon Horowitz at the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

  • The I’m Determined website in Virginia offers good resources for youth, families, and educators around self-determination. The website includes videos, training modules, a transition guide, downloadable brochures, and more.
  • The Youthhood website provides a holistic, web-based curriculum that teachers, community service providers, parents, and mentors can use with young adults to develop skills, increase knowledge, and implement a personal life plan that will help young adults achieve their dreams.
  • 2BSD is an action model for self-determination with the goal of identifying what individuals can do to increase their self-determination.  It focuses on factors affecting self-determination that are within a person’s control. Check out the interactive graphic! The authors recently offered a free preview download of their new self-determination curriculum for grades K-5 (PDF, 436 pages, 2016).
  • Individual learning plans (ILPs) help students translate what they learn in school into real-world job skills that can motivate them to reach college, job and career goals. The federal Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has a toolkit called “Kick Start Your ILP” that includes checklists for each year of high school.
  • This is an oldie but goodie: Secondary Transition Toolkit developed by the Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network. It was developed BY youth FOR youth, and is organized in three phases: Accept Yourself, Declare Yourself, and Empower Yourself. There’s things to read and lots of pages to complete. (PDF, 102 pages, 2008)
  • A wealth of evidence-based and evidence-informed assessment and curriculum materials to support students with developing self-determination skills: Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment, at the University of Oklahoma.
  • Webinar recording, Promoting Self-Determination and More Positive Transition Outcomes: The Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction, from the Transition Coalition. Michael Wehmeyer identifies how the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction can be implemented in classrooms, schools and throughout a district. Also learn about a new self-determination assessment, the Self-Determination Inventory. 44:55-minutes, includes resources to download.
  • A series of publications covering different aspects of self-determination: self-advocacy, employment, health, community services, aging, family roles, and college, from the National Gateway to Self-Determination. Each issue includes definitions, a brief review of the literature, promising practices, and applied examples.
  • Understanding social competence and its connection to learning disabilities, from the Great Schools website:
  • Impact newsletter (text, or PDF, 40 pages, 2011) from the Institute on Community Integration, U. Minn. features articles on fostering social well-being and friendship for children and youth with developmental and other disabilities.
  • Disability Workshops offers a free email newsletter, plus curriculum and both online and in-person workshops to help parents, teachers and service providers learn to be comfortable addressing sexuality with people with developmental disabilities.
The 411 on Disability Disclosure is a guide to help you make decisions about what you will tell people about your disability.