Below are the stages in the process of becoming a self-determined person. Ask yourself the questions following each stage to learn more about how your learning disability affects you.
The first step is to know yourself well.
- What are my areas of strength?
- What tasks are difficult for me?
- How would I describe my learning disability?
- What do I love to do?
- What kinds of activities do I avoid?
- What would be my ideal job or ideal vocation?
- What is important to me?
Valuing yourself means accepting responsibility for your successes and your failures and having the courage to find your way in life.
- How have my learning disabilities made me a stronger person?
- What are my recent successes, either big or small?
- Who helps me with things I don't do well?
- What do I do for others that they appreciate?
- What are habits I have that I know will get me into trouble?
Self-determined individuals are able to look to the future and set goals. Some individuals with LD have trouble thinking ahead and figuring out the consequences of their actions. Other people with LD are great at planning because it taps their creativity.
- Do I set long-term goals?
- Do I know how to take a long-term goal and break it down into manageable steps?
- How well am I able to stick to a plan?
- Am I willing to get others' input when I am making a plan?
- How well am I able to match my strengths and work around my areas of need when I make a plan?
- How well can I predict others' reactions to my planned activities?
Self-determined individuals take risks. Taking action usually involves communicating with others. Skills such as listening, negotiating and compromising are important at this stage.
- What are my communication strengths and weaknesses?
- How well am I able to accept another person's point of view?
- How do I respond when I get a negative reaction?
- If necessary, am I willing to find another way to reach my goal?
Learn From Experiences
Taking steps to becoming self-determined is a learning process.
- When your actions pay off and you get what you want, can you figure out what led you to success?
- Can you can repeat those successful action steps and meet with success again?
- When things don't work out well, can you figure out what you might have done differently?
An important step towards self-determination is recognizing how you respond to challenges in different settings and how well you adapt to different environments.
In school, some instructors may do things that help you learn and feel successful, whereas others may teach in ways that makes it difficult for you to learn. Work environments are the same way. Some work environments may be set up in ways that pose obstacles to your success while others allow you to tap areas of strength.
- How quickly must reading and writing be done? Can I use alternate approaches to demonstrate my knowledge?
- Do I have time to check my work? Will I have an opportunity to resubmit work after receiving feedback from the teacher?
- Are directions given in ways that I can easily understand and if not, do I know how to request an accommodation or modification?
- Is competition or cooperation rewarded?
- Do I have enough time to learn new work skills?
Creating a productive environment for work and leisure time is often not easy and usually takes time and a willingness to take chances. Trial and error is the key to knowing what does and does not work for you. This self-knowledge can help you self-advocate for what you need to be successful.