Using the Choice-making Skills of Students with Disabilities for Educational Planning

Marie Van Tubbergen, Ph.D.
Donna Omichinski, B.A.
Seth Warschausky, Ph.D.


Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
University of Michigan


For students with significant speech and movement impairments, meaningful participation in educational planning activities is difficult. These students face barriers in communicating choices about daily activities and basic knowledge; therefore, student-initiated curriculum goals are not systematically included in IEP and transition planning processes. We present models for conceptualizing the 1) expression of choice in students with severe impairments in speech and movement, 2) inclusion of choice-making techniques and abilities into IEP documents, and 3) inclusion of choice-making in transition planning. Using these models, we argue that optimal student participation in educational planning requires clear identification of a student’s current choice-making techniques; and, that advanced techniques and abilities in expressing choices are best developed through systematic consideration in educational planning.


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