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Fostering Self-Determination Skills in Prelinguistic and Early Linguistic Communicators

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Jennifer Ward and Susan Bruce
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This seminar addresses the eight components of self-determination, as proposed by Wood, Fowler, and Test (2005). It will then provide strategies for professionals and families to support prelinguistic and early linguistic communicators to successfully demonstrate four of these components: self-awareness, self-regulation, choice-making, and self-efficacy.

  • Self-awareness begins with understanding one’s body and includes self-recognition. Over time, the individual develops preferences that are expressed through self-advocacy. One instructional strategy is to teach vocabulary to support self-awareness, including me, you, mine, yours, my turn, and your turn.
  • Self-regulation involves being able to manage your own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. It includes modulating your responses to stimuli. Self-regulation can be supported by recognizing and naming a student’s emotional state and by working with the student to identify what can support them to calm down or to increase their energy and attention.
  • Choice-making is a component of self-determination and has been recognized as a communication right (Brady, et al., 2016). Authentic choice-making needs to be differentiated from merely participating in a choice-making routine. Authentic choice-making means that the individual selects a truly preferred option (Bruce & Ivy, 2017). Strategies to support early communicators include providing experiences to support understanding of the options, using representations/symbols that are already known by the individual, and teaching a dependable selection response.
  • Self-efficacy is one’s belief in their ability to be successful and is related to the concept of. mastery motivation. Strategies to support self-efficacy include careful selection of instructional targets, appropriate levels of prompting, and reinforcement.

This seminar will provide opportunities for participants to generate additional strategies associated with the four components addressed above and will include an activity on classroom supports for self-determination and a second activity on individualized supports.

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