Enhanced Self-Determination of Adults With Intellectual Disability as an Outcome of Moving to Community-Based Work or Living Environments

J Intellect Disabil Res. 2001 Oct;45(Pt 5):371-83. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2788.2001.00342.x.


In recent years, the self-determination construct has received increased international visibility and utilization in the field of intellectual disability (ID). This has resulted in efforts to promote skills enhancing self-determination, and in efforts to change how adult services are funded to allocate resources to increase consumer control and direction. An important component to consider in both of these efforts is the role of the environment on self-determination. The present study examined the self-determination, autonomy and life choices of individuals with ID before and after they moved from a more restrictive work or living environment. The self-determination of adults with ID was measured for an average 6-months before and after a move from a more restrictive living or working environment to a community-based setting. Paired-sample t-tests indicated that there were significant changes, in each case in a more adaptive direction, in self-determination, autonomous functioning and life choices following a move to a less restrictive environment. The present findings contribute to emerging evidence that the self-determination of individuals with ID is limited by congregate living or work settings which limit opportunities for choice and decision-making. Alternatively, more normalized, community-based environments support and enhance self-determination. Because self-determination has been linked to positive adult outcomes and enhanced quality of life, it is important to consider ways to enable people with ID to live and work in their communities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Decision Making
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentally Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Mentally Disabled Persons / rehabilitation*
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Autonomy*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Work