Promoting Self-Determination Skills Among Youth with Special Health Needs Using Participatory Action Research

Authors: Burstein, Karen1; Bryan, Tanis2; Chao, Pen-Chiang3

Source: Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, Volume 17, Number 2, June 2005 , pp. 185-201(17)

Publisher: Springer

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A team of 20 high school and college students with physical and/or health and orthopedic impairments was engaged in participatory action research (PAR) to systematically test strategies to solve problems they confronted in their daily lives. PAR goals were set by the participating youth with special health needs (YSHN) who were involved in every step of the research process from problem identification to dissemination of results. In the study reported here, all participants made progress in analyzing their personal needs, selecting a goal, and implementing a strategy to achieve the goal. In addition, the YSHN identified a common goal of visiting public venues, such as shopping malls, and conducted PAR projects to assess the accessibility of such venues. The results indicate that PAR is a viable method for involving YSHN with varied skills, limitations, and experiences to address personal issues as well as barriers they all confront. PAR appears to be a promising methodology for assisting YSHN in their quest for self-determination and the IDEA (1997) mandate to include adolescents in decision making.

Keywords: participatory action research; physical and health impairments; self-determination; youth with special health needs

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Southwest Institute for Families and Children with Special Needs, Scottsdale, Arizona, Email: 2: Southwest Institute for Families and Children with Special Needs, Scottsdale, Arizona, 3: Division of Curriculum and Instruction, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona,

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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