LC Journal of Special Education


Only a limited amount of research focuses on building skills leading to enhanced self- determination for children with disabilities within the home environment (Abery & Stancliffe, 1996; Shogren & Turnbull, 2006), even though families play a critical role in developing the self-determination of their children (Abery & Zajac, 1996; Palmer et al., 2012). According to Shogren and Turnbull (2006), this lack of attention on developing the self-determination of children with disabilities at home, within families, “may detrimentally limit the field’s ability to support children, and families, in developing the capacity for, or for promoting, self- determination” (p. 341). Some research, however, does examine the family’s role in developing the foundations for greater self-determination of children with and without disabilities. Most of this research comes out of the human development field, specifically from self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1987) research, a theory of motivation and socialization. Before reviewing how SDT conceptualizes the family’s role in developing their children’s self-determination, it is crucial to examine the concept of self-determination in the disability field and SDT. A full discussion of the issues pertaining to this examination exceeds the scope of this paper; this condensed description examines the conceptualization of self-determination in the disability field and the construct’s conceptualization in SDT for the purposes of potentially connecting research on parental autonomy support and the disability field.