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The Impact of Personal Characteristics of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disability on Self-determination and Autonomous Functioning

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Background 

Many people assume that the presence of an intellectual disability precludes a person from becoming self-determined. Recent research, however, has suggested that the environments in which people live, learn, work or play may play a more important role in promoting self-determination then do personal characteristics of the person, including level of intelligence. Methods 

This study examined the self-determination and autonomous functioning of 301 adults with intellectual disability or a developmental disability without concomitant intellectual impairments (e.g. persons with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and spina bifida) as a function of personal characteristics of individuals. Results 

Intellectual capacity was not a significant contributor to either self-determination or autonomous functioning for this group. Opportunities to make choices, however, contributed significantly and positively to greater self-determination and autonomy. Intelligence scores did, however, predict whether the person worked or lived in more or less restrictive settings, though for the latter, both self-determination and autonomous functioning also contributed significantly. Conclusions 

These findings are discussed with regard to the role of personal characteristics, particularly intelligence level, in promoting self-determination and more positive adult outcomes.
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Keywords: adult outcomes; autonomy; choice-making; intelligence; self-determination

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Special Education, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities, Haworth Hall, 1200 Sunnyside Avenue, Room 3136, Lawrence, KS 66045-7534, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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