Successful Steps to Transition Through Self-Advocacy and Self-Determination Thesis

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Steps to Successful Transition Through Self-Advocacy Towards Self-Determination

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The inclusion of disabled individuals in the general social, educational and occupational contexts which are welcoming to mainstream populations is a goal which appears to parallel the progressive orientation of our culture. Modern education shows evidence of the trend toward change, facilitating the increasing integration of individuals who are physically, emotionally or learning disabled into public and private schools. This trend has been a decidedly positive one, with legal, economic and educational strategies coming together to present an effective and productive change in the way that we contend with disabilities. Inclusive practice, which submits that educational institutions should be considered responsible for helping to assimilate disabled students into mainstream population classroom settings and for providing them with the needed support to succeed therein, presents a number of challenges to educators. Namely, the determination of the appropriate curricular methods to be applied can represent a wide range of continually evolving responsibilities for instructors. The research engaged here is designed to bring illumination to the subject of self-determination for students with special education needs in an array of contexts and pertaining to the gamut of special needs. The impetus on inclusion denotes an interest in helping students with special needs to achieve some level of comparable educational growth to those in the mainstream population. This is an interest which the research conducted here will demonstrate to be directly tied to the illustrated benefits to personal growth, intellectual development and the formulation of emotional fortitude or confidence all correlated to the enforcement of self-determination. Therefore, the research and analysis conducted here are intended to reinforce the hypothesis that constructing a special education curriculum and shaping the unique IEPs dedicated to each special needs student according to ambitions of self-determination can have a significantly beneficial impact on the educational and personal development of the student.

Thesis on Successful Steps to Transition Through Self-Advocacy and Self-Determination Assignment


The literature review which is to be undertaken hereafter will consider the increasingly evident value in focusing inclusive special education according to the will, desire and interests expressed by the student. Allowing self-determination and encouraging self-advocacy have the potential not only to enhance individual engagement in one's process of education, but also begin to instill in the student a capacity for independence that will be crucial to make a transition toward secondary or occupational education. If the primary impetus of inclusive education is to actually pursue its declaimed ambitions of helping special needs students make the leap to further education or a profession, this interest in easing the transition is essential. Indeed, there is a wide range of resources available to students completing their publicly availed education which are not sufficiently utilized by families, schools or communities and there is also empirical cause to believe that there is a social impetus for refining and better illuminating these resources.

Accordingly, we find that "existing research is very persuasive on the need to improve transitions for young disabled people. It can also be used to provide clues as to the sorts of support and service configurations that need to be in place to ensure positive transitions." (Beresford, 585) This constitutes the primary impetus for the transition plan recommended here. By helping the student to actively identity his own needs, and to distill his own detectable skills, an educational institution and family can help to channel his abilities into a desirable and productive future avenue.

To consider one of the primary impulses motivating the engagement of this research, general discussion on the importance of transition services indicates that this is an area of great uncertainty in the field. For parents and special needs students alike, current conventions in the approach to special education do not work toward the interests of transition. Many of the strategies in place in public school special education, even inclusion education, are too closely focused on day-to-day successes without taking on the larger implications of education. The study by Katsiyannis et al. (1998) provides a critical assessment of special education as failing to focus on transition needs, denoting a need for goals of self-determination to be sought through strategies of self-advocacy on the part of students. This helps to highlight the problem around which our research centers, with Katsiyannis et al. indicating that "researchers, disability advocates, and practitioners have concluded that the fragmented system of services within high schools and adult services are contributing to the failure of special education to prepare these youths for the future. This sentiment of an 'uncertain' future in postschool environments is often reported by parents of students with disabilities." (Katsiyannis, 55) This uncertainty must be addressed through the tools and constructs already in place for the consideration of individual education needs.

Thus, the self-advocacy curriculum considered subsequent to the literature review will center on integrating personal interest with access to transitional support services into the disabled individual's Independent Education Program (IEP.) In many ways, this will require a paradigm shift on the part of educators, educational institutions and even for the parents of special-needs students who have collectively perceived a need to provide high level assistance and authority to said student. A degree of change in perspective will be necessary to help these important parties make the necessary accommodations while simultaneously helping the student to posit his own expectations and needs in the process.

The primary material resources required to facilitate this paradigm shift will be the principle agencies and individuals devoted to assisting the disabled person in education, occupation and life maintenance. Through an incorporation of these positive forces as lifelong instruments in the disabled person's survival and success, the IEP should play a fundamental part in helping to identify and seize upon the student's capacity for self-determination. First and foremost, the student's educational grounding must be based in the details of his IEP. Government policy represents the importance of a properly tailored course of education relating to eventual educational or vocational transition for all disabled individuals. According to the Department of Education, "the IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP is the cornerstone of a quality education for each child with a disability." (DOE, 2) Through the proper orientation of individuals toward the options available to them by way of a self-determined IEP, we can enable students to become better acquainted with the responsibilities and realities of self-advocacy encountered upon adulthood.

Literature Review:

The benefits to individual development through the implementation of self-determination strategies of curriculum design are supported by an array of literature sources. These generally contribute to the perspective taken by the research account here that the encouragement of self-determination in special needs students will have far-reaching effects relating to socialization and life skills. This means that the prospects of self-determination and self-advocacy in curriculum are not just contained to academic goals, but that the general benefits to the individual of this approach are likely to touch on a wide array of developmental areas. Indeed, the study by Nota et al. (2007) contends that "the scholastic, vocational and social participation and integration of people with intellectual disabilities; habilitative and rehabilitative programme goals; and even the quality of life construct all reference themes pertaining to self-determination." (Nota et al., 851)

The findings of this study help to form the core of a powerful endorsement for methods of improving self-advocacy and self-determination, indicating that such methods seize on the formative ambitions of young special needs learners, improving the possibility that these learners will develop habits of independence and ingenuity to the extent possible. The emphasis in the findings of the study by Nota et al. appears to be, beyond the achievement of concrete educational goals, an interest achieving a general impact that will improve the quality of life possible for a disabled, special needs, cognitively or developmentally impaired individual.

This is a perspective which is further endorsed in the study by Mason et al. (2004), which places these same research-based views in a legal context. In the article by Mason et al., there is a direct intercession between the expectations and demands which have been imposed by legislation constructing inclusion education policies and the findings of progressive special education research today. According, Mason et al. denote that "the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) Amendments of 1997 (Public Law 105-17) required that children and youth with disabilities ages 14 to 16 be invited to participate in meetings where their individualized education programs (IEPs) are discussed, and that decisions be based on the students' interests and preferences (34 C.F.R. 300.344 (b) (1) and 300.29). Such involvement in transition and IEPs has been strongly encouraged by individuals with disabilities, advocates, researchers, and teachers." (Mason, 441)

The study by Mason et al. does go on to indicate that the approach taken by the 1997 legislation, when considered in light of currently available research, should be extended to impact a larger array of ages. The prospects and opportunities made apparent by research on… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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