Foundations for Self-Determination in Early Childhood: An Inclusive Model for Children With Disabilities

Susan B. Palmer, Jean Ann Summers, Mary Jane Brotherson, Elizabeth J. Erwin, Susan P. Maude, Vera Stroup-Rentier, Hsiang yi wu, Nancy F. Peck, Yuzhu Zheng, Cindy J. Weigel, Szu Yin Chu, Greg S. Mcgrath, Shana J. Haines

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43 Scopus citations


This article introduces the Early Childhood Foundations Model for Self-Determination and provides a rationale for the need to consider the foundations of self-determination behavior that begin early in life. This model is based on the premise that young children with disabilities benefit from a collaborative partnership between important adults in the lives of children to provide a supportive, stimulating, and coordinated environment between inclusive classrooms and home settings. Within partnership, the Foundations Model establishes the proposition that the basic foundational skills for developing self-determination in later life require young children with disabilities to gain skills in (a) choice-making and problem solving, (b) self-regulation, and (c) engagement. In this position paper, the authors review literature related to these three foundational constructs and present a rationale for use of the Foundations Model as a guide to developing systematic interventions to start young students with disabilities on the road to building a foundation for self-determination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-47
Number of pages10
JournalTopics in Early Childhood Special Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2013


  • choice
  • early childhood
  • engagement
  • family–professional partnership
  • self-determination
  • self-regulation


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