Foundations for Self-Determination Perceived and Promoted By Families of Young Children with Disabilities in China

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Building foundational skills in the early years for the later development of self-determination in adulthood for individuals with disabilities is important in the United States, but little research has been conducted to examine whether these skills are as important in other countries. In this phenomenological study, seven family interviews were conducted to understand how foundational skills for self-determination (choice making, self-regulation, engagement) were perceived and promoted by families of young children with disabilities in China. This study indicated that these skills were also valued in China. However, Chinese families emphasized the need to develop these three skills in the context of an emphasis on dependence and obedience in accordance with its collectivist culture. They used the popular Chinese parenting practice of guan to help their children make choices, regulate themselves according to li, and engage in educational study, which is highly valued in Chinese culture. These findings have important implications for interventionists in the United States who are working with families from Chinese culture.

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