The Missouri Division of Developmental Disabilities defines Self-Determination as:

Individuals are the primary decision maker in their lives, pursue what is important to them and have a meaningful role in the community. This includes five key principles:

  • Freedom: Individuals will live a meaningful life in the community and make choices about their lives.
  • Authority: Individuals will have meaningful control over a set amount of dollars that can be used to build the supports they need by purchasing only what is needed and paying for what is received.
  • Support: Individuals will have support to organize resources in ways that are life enhancing and assist them in reaching their dreams and goals. Individuals have a circle of supports made up of family, friends, and both paid and unpaid supports.
  • Responsibility: Individuals assume responsibility for giving back to their community, for seeking employment, and for developing unique gifts and talents.
  • Confirmation: Individuals are recognized for who they are and what they can contribute, having a leadership role in developing policies that affect their lives and helping others reach success.

An important component of Self-Determination is Self-advocacy. Self-advocacy means speaking or acting for yourself. It means deciding what is best for you and taking charge of getting what you want. It means standing up for your rights as a person. The Division of Developmental Disabilities believes that all of the people served can benefit from learning and using self-advocacy skills.