What is Self-Determination?



  • Understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Being a causal agent
  • Knowing what you can do on your own
  • Setting own goals
  • Solving problems
  • Making appropriate choices
  • Decision-making
  • Advocating for oneself
  • Creating action plans
  • Self-regulating/self-managing

Self determination is “a combination of skills, knowledge and beliefs that enable a person to engage in goal-directed, self-regulated, autonomous behavior.”

— Michael Wehmeyer

Wehmeyer goes on to describe Self-Determination as:

  • A process of gradually assuming more control and taking greater responsibility in decisions and actions
  • Not about having complete control but a process of becoming more self-reliant and achieving a state of interdependence, managing and directing those you enlist to support you in your efforts to achieve your goals
  • Essential characteristics include:
    • An understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses coupled with a belief in oneself as capable and effective
    • Being a causal agent who makes things happen by being goal-directed and applying problem-solving and decision-making skills to guide actions
    • Knowing what you can do on your own and what you can do with supports
  • Essential skills include:
    • Setting own long-term and short-term goals
    • Solving problems that are barriers to achieving those goals
    • Making appropriate choices based on preferences and interests
    • Participating in decisions that affect one’s quality of life
    • Advocating for oneself
    • Creating action plans to achieve goals
    • Self-regulating and self-managing day-to-day actions