At Lexington Services, we support our members and help them to develop skills that aid in their growth so they can accomplish their goals. Independence is one of the skills that we work on with all of our members and a big component of independence that we engage members with is expanding self-determination. A person that’s self-determined makes things happen in their own life, instead of having others do it for them. One of our many goals with members is to encourage their individuality and help them get to a place where their reasoning and execution of an activity for themselves happens without help or reminder. Basically, when an individual works to start expanding self-determination, they can enhance skills like goal-setting, decision making and problem solving, which enables members to assume more responsibility for themselves and to control their emotions or actions efficiently.
Why Expanding Self-Determination Is Important
Expanding self-determination is vital for members and every individual in the community because of what it has been shown to improve among people with disabilities. Students with disabilities who worked on expanding self-determination skills are more likely to find employment and earn more than their peers. Furthermore, they are more likely to live somewhere other than at home with their parents. When Lexington talks about helping members to grow in their independence, part of that growth comes from expanding self-determination.
Self-determination is a skill that is linked to independence, but there are many competencies that sit under the umbrella, so when Lexington staff engages members that are working on expanding self-determination in general, they might be practicing very different activities to develop a certain aspect of self-determination as a whole.
Multiple Facets Of Self-Determination
For our members, expanding self-determination and independence means expanding some of the following skills:
Choice/ Decision Making – Choice making and decision making involve members having the opportunity to choose instruction methods, activities and educational aids to develop agency. As the skill develops, members learn how to evaluate and analyze situations to look for and choose the best outcome.
- Goal Setting – The action of setting goals is based on choices and analyzation of the outcomes with the intent to complete a goal, then expanding self-determination to make sure all a member’s goals are completed.
- Problem Solving – Problem solving requires members to consider problems they face, come up with possible solutions and choose the one that has the best outcome.
- Self-Awareness – Self-awareness is a process by which members identify their strengths and weaknesses, learning to improve their experience with this knowledge.
- Self-Advocacy – Self-advocacy requires members to advocate and stand up for their needs and goals, acting as a leader for their own experience.
- Self-Management – Members are also encouraged to monitor and assess their behavior and learning, adjusting their behavior without correction from someone else.
These aspects of self-determination all work in tandem to develop independence for our members, but these are all internal developments. Lexington encourages members to continue expanding self-determination skills because of their use in their community.
Self-Determination Comes In Handy
Our members are able to use these developed skills in a variety of aspects in their lives. In school or in an after-care center like the Lexington Learning Center, students develop comradery with their peers, make choices that include their interests and solve problems that they encounter. A self-determined person can also use that skill to remain safe while out in the community or to relate to employers and co-workers in their career.
Self-determination is a major tenant of the programs at Lexington Services, especially our Transition To Employment (TTE) program, which we are rolling out this summer. From career interests, through the application process, and even on beyond employment to using the first paycheck or the effect of employment on benefits, Lexington staff will teach members the skills they need to join the workforce and get a job they love! If you would like more information about TTE, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.