CREATE AWARENESS ~ COMBAT STIGMA ~ CONNECT COMMUNITIES
Elizabeth Bonker hasn't said a word since she was diagnosed with nonverbal autism at 15 months old, but that didn't stop her from giving the valedictorian speech at Rollins College on Sunday.
Quite simply, being self-determined means making things happen in a person’s own life, instead of having others do things to, or for them. People who are self-determined know what they want and how to get it. They choose and set goals, then work to reach them. They advocate on their own behalf, and are involved in solving problems and making decisions about their lives. They don’t have to do everything for themselves, but instead, they make or cause things to happen in their lives that improve the quality of their lives.
The Developmental Disabilities Act describes “self-determination activities” as “activities that result in individuals with developmental disabilities, with appropriate assistance, having: the ability and opportunity to communicate and make personal decisions; the ability and opportunity to communicate choices and exercise control over the type and intensity of services, supports, and other assistance the individual receives; the authority to control resources to obtain needed services, supports, and other assistance; opportunities to participate in, and contribute to their communities; and support, including financial support, to advocate for themselves and others, to develop leadership skills, through training in self-advocacy, to participate in coalitions, to educate policymakers, and to play a role in the development of public policies that affect individuals with developmental disabilities.”
Self-Determination and Community Inclusion
Too often, people with disabilities have too few choices about where and with whom they live. Being more self-determined enables people to have more of a voice in living in their own communities. Here is what people had to say about it.
Self-Determination and Real Jobs
Research shows that people who are more self-determined have higher rates of employment and earn more money, as well as having better benefits, like vacation, sick leave, and health care. Hearing from people with disabilities about their jobs is one way to visualize self-determination in action in the world of work.
Self-Determination and Social Inclusion
Self-determination means making things happen in your own life, instead of others doing things for you. But perhaps the most important supports a person can have to live a self-determined life are friends and family members! As the song says, everybody gets by with a little help from their friends. Whether doing something with friends or with oneself, knowing what you like to do and getting out and doing it are important parts of a better life.
Self-Determination and Healthy Living
Wellness and positive health outcomes for people with disabilities are important to living a better quality life. Self-determined people make choices about their behaviors and actions to care for their health and lead healthy lifestyles. Self-Determination and Self-Advocacy People who are self-determined advocate for themselves and others. For people with disabilities, being a self-advocate is very important to ensure equal access and to battle discrimination.
Credit: A National Gateway to Self-Determination funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities
Through partnerships with local school districts, families, community agencies and businesses Exceptional Humans, Inc provides classes at no-cost that leads to the understanding and development of self-deter