From the Steps to Self-Determination curricular materials, the students are introduced to the concepts by watching a video that demonstrates adolescent students engaged in learning the 5 elements of this self-determination model, which are:
As a means to directly engage the students in the process of becoming self-determined individuals, they complete Framing A Future (FAF), a self-discovery survey designed to assist students who use AAC in identifying preferences, interests and needs.
Before embarking on this process, we share with parents the components of the self-determination program, collaborating with families in providing opportunities and supports for the acquisition of self-determination skills in the home and community.
In this process toward self-determination, we as educators and the families are co-learners with the students, providing active models of adults continuing to strive toward greater self-determination in a collaborative learning environment. Another important consideration is the role of a mentor who has been selected by the student to support them in this process. The students write letters to the individuals they have identified, inviting them to be mentors and participate with the students in the program activities.
Based on the Penn State Mentor Project (Light et al., 2007) we also enlist the support of a mentor with complex communication needs, who uses AAC and has experienced the same physical and communicative challenges as our students and has been successful in working towards her goals and leading an independent life.