Providing support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.


Independence is not measured by the number of tasks we can do without assistance, but the quality of life we can lead with assistance. 

– Americans with Disabilities Ace (ADA) 1990

What is Self-Advocacy and Self-Determination?

Self-advocacy, in its simplest form is when a person is advocating on their own behalf; whereas self-determination describes a person’s right to make choices about their own life and to have the same rights and responsibilities as others. It is about being in charge of your own life, but is not necessarily the same thing as self-sufficiency or independence.

What you need to know

The 5 Principles of Self-Determination

1. FREEDOM – the freedom to make basic choices in one’s life. Freedom is a principle that can and should be fostered early in life – it is never too early or too late to start.

2. AUTHORITY – control over one’s life, particularly one’s finances. With today’s technology and resources there are many ways to assist a person with a disability to manage their own finances or participate in the management of their money.

3.SUPPORT – to organize the people who support you to live your life, in a way that makes sense for you. No one is lives and independent life. Recognizing the value of interdependent relationships, individuals who have a disability should control, as much as possible, who provides their support and how the support is provided.

4. RESPONSIBILITY – with freedom and authority come responsibility and accountability. Having a disability should never get in the way of a person taking responsibility and being accountable for their actions.

5. CONFIRMATION – Proof of your importance, the role you play in the lives of others. 

Under this framework, individuals who have a disability are taught that assistance is not a deficit, and that knowing how to seek assistance is a positive attribute that leads toward self-sufficiency as an adult.



  • Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN)

             ASAN seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism.

  • Kids As Self-Advocates (KASA)

             KASA is a national, grassroots project created by youth with disabilities for youth. We are                        teens and young adults with disabilities speaking out.

            Self-Advocacy Online is a place to find accessible information on current topics in self-                               advocacy.


             The I’m Determined project focuses on providing direct instruction, models, and                                            opportunities to practice skills associated with self-determined behavior.

  • National Center for Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET)

             Research to practice Brief - Self-Determination: Supporting Successful Transition

             The Self-Determination group is run by and for individuals with disabilities (14 and older) with              the support of an advisor.


              Watch this video to learn how Self-Determination makes a difference in the lives of                                      people with disabilities.

Most people take for granted the choices they have in life regarding where they live, learn, work, and worship and other aspects of day-to- day life – what they eat, how they dress, their friends, social – leisure activities, etc. For individuals who experience life with a disability, these choices are often made by others or limited by man-made barriers, such as accessibility, systems, preconceived ideas, and prejudices about disability. But that is changing! Individuals of all ages who experience life with a disability are demanding we listen to them and act upon what they tell us through self-advocacy and self-determination – two distinct, yet related concepts.