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


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.


Youth-led organizations in NH

  • Youth M.O.V.E. New Hampshire is a chapter of Youth M.O.V.E. national, a youth-led organization devoted to improving services and systems by uniting the voices of individuals who have experience in various systems including mental health, juvenile justice, education, and child welfare.
  • YEAH NH The YEAH (Youth for Education, Advocacy and Healthcare) Advisory Council is made up of teens and young adults with special health care needs.

How To Speak Up and Be Heard: Self Advocacy, from Transitions RTC in Massachusetts (PDF, 2 pages, 2014)

Youth in Action! Becoming a Stronger Self-Advocate is a tip sheet for youth from the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD).

Self-Advocacy: A Valuable Skill for Your Teenager With LD: Overview and tips from

InfoBrief from NCWD, “Helping Youth with Learning Disabilities Chart the Course: A Guide for Youth Service Professionals“, covers key strategies for learning in the workplace, self-determination and leadership skills, and disclosure and accommodation. Includes tables and charts of assessments, universal design considerations, specific challenges and accommodations. (PDF, 20 pages, 2012)

Self-Advocacy: What’s That?: explanation of self-advocacy as well as some historical background

Brochure from NH Family Voices (PDF, 2 p., 2013): Self-Advocacy Tips for Students with Special Health Needs

Self-advocacy organization in NH led by people with disabilities: People First of New Hampshire

The Speak Up! Action Manual for Peer Leader Teams from the University of North Carolina Center for Development and Learning is designed for student teams who want to learn about self advocacy and practice tools for making choices and decisions about their future. Other Speak Up! materials include The Road to Work, an engaging workbook on finding and keeping work.

Kids as Self-Advocates (KASA) is a national grassroots project created by teens and young adults with disabilities to share information and support:

Understanding Your Disability

The Understood website offers parent-friendly information on all sorts of learning disabilities.

Friends of Quinn is an online community for young adults with learning disabilities.

LD Navigator is a comprehensive resource website about learning disabilities for the pediatric professional community and parents.

Fact sheets about specific disabilities from the Center for Parent Information and Resources

Be inspired by famous people with disabilities.

Check out a new website from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, EveryBody: An Artifact History of Disability in America.

Effective Interventions in Dropout Prevention: A Practice Brief for Educators, from the National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities, provides educators with concepts and practical information to assist in implementing CBIs that reduce aggressive behaviors in students. Cognitive-behavioral interventions (CBIs) refer to a number of different but related interventions used to change behavior by teaching people to understand and modify thoughts and behaviors. (PDF, 11 pages)

Videos about learning disabilities

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

Social skills

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.

Disability history

Youth in Action! Learning Disability History is a tip sheet for youth from the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD).

Disability history timeline (PDF, 36 pages, 2007) from the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD).

Disability Knowledge and Identity Self-Assessment  (PDF, 8 pages, 2007) from the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD).

Related framework pages

This area overlaps with other areas of the Framework. See the pages below, depending on your area of interest.

Assistive technology