#69-Self Determination with Complex Communication Needs

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Self determination is the process by which one controls his or her own life. Most would agree it is important but does that mean we know how make it a reality for all individuals with disabilities, especially those with complex communication needs?

To discuss this topic with us is Karrie Shogren, Ph.D. Dr. Shogren is a professor at Kansas University in the Department of Special Education, a Senior Scientist in the Life Span Institute, and Director of the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities. Her research focuses on self-determination and systems of support for students with disabilities and she has a specific interest in the contextual factors that impact student outcomes. She has published over 130 articles in peer-reviewed journals, is the author or co-author of 10 books, and is the lead author of the Self-Determination Inventory System.

This website contains a self determination inventory, guides to the self determination learning model, implementation, supplements, ways to break down learning for those w complex communication needs, utilization strategies for inclusive general education settings, and transition planning. There are also an array of suggested resources.

This website contains a self determination inventory, guides to the self determination learning model, implementation, supplements, ways to break down learning for those w complex communication needs, utilization strategies for inclusive general education settings, and transition planning. There are also an array of suggested resources.

Mentioned in This Episode

  • Dr. Shogren chose Kansas University to continue her work and research because of KU’s focus on lifespan supports which correlates to her findings that building a foundation of self determination in the adolescent years strongly contributes to success in the adult transition years.

  • The primary focus of Dr. Shorgren and her team at KU is research to develop effective and realistic strategies of self determination for implementation by teachers, families and providers across the life span. 

  • The KU team aims to push their research out into the field. An example of a tool they have developed for parents, teachers and students to do this is the self determination inventory (found in the link above). KU is interested in promoting collaboration between home and school.

  • Dr. Shogren stresses while assessments are important, the most important piece is embedding and overlaying teaching that allows opportunities for self determination. This is where advocacy from parents, as well as supports and trainings from school systems are important. The self-determination website above offers tools on how to embed and overlay opportunities.

  • Self determination is a characteristic developed in students. It is an outcome of the teaching, opportunities, and support provided. It is not a program but rather something fostered to promote an outcome.

  • Students can be excellent choice makers but if deprived the opportunity, loose motivation.

  • Supporting early skills leads to higher levels of self determination. Begin at a young age offering a variety of choices. What do you want to eat? What to you want to wear? Then begin to model and communicate and offer supports to connect why the choice matters. This is where a support team can be helpful. It is good for the choices to have appropriate consequences. Eventually individuals connect the “what” to the “why” and can begin to goal set. Again, self-determination.org offers guidance.

  • Most would agree in the importance of self determination yet do not have a strong toolbox or skill set for implementation. Effective training and support for teachers and service providers with ongoing coaching that is embedded in school districts and provider organizations is key.

Additional Resources

Related Episodes

This show is part of a 12 episode advocacy series. Listen to other topics in the series via your favorite podcast app or directly on the LOMAH website