ERIC Number: EJ775088
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Reference Count: 26
An Historical Perspective of Self-Determination in Special Education: Accomplishments and Challenges
Ward, Michael J.
Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities (RPSD), v30 n3 p108-112 Fall 2005
Self-determination for people with severe disabilities first appears in the 1972 writing of Benget Nirje, where he came to the realization that they could and should have a role in their own choices. Nirje's writings called for a wide range of actions that would enable them to better control their lives and destinies, including choice and control over personal activities, education, independence, participation in decisions, and information upon which to make decisions and solve problems. Nirje equated self-determination with the respect and dignity to which all people are entitled. He identified making choices, asserting oneself, self-management, self-knowledge, decision making, self-advocacy, self-efficacy, self-regulation, autonomy, and independence (although often not using those terms) as the salient features of personal self-determination. Robert Perske, a contemporary of Nirje and an advocate for the rights of people with severe disabilities, called for the opportunity for them to experience the "dignity of risk." Nirje and Perske's calls for action to support self-determination and the opportunity to experience the dignity of risk laid the foundation for the special education initiative and presented challenges in actualizing their call for adults with severe disabilities. In this article, the author presents a historical perspective of self-determination in special education--accomplishments and challenges. He also shares the lessons he has learned based on his role with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) self-determination initiative.
Descriptors: Severe Disabilities, Self Efficacy, Self Advocacy, Special Education, Self Determination, Decision Making, Risk, Educational History
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
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