Skip Navigation
Perceptions and Expectations of Youth With Disabilities  (NLTS2)
NCSER 2007-3006
September 2007

Self-Evaluations of Strengths and Competencies

To document the self-representations of the competencies of youth with disabilities, youth were asked to report in telephone interviews how well they perform in six specific domains: athletics, computer use, mechanical tasks, creative arts, performing arts, and self-advocacy. In addition, two subscales from the Arc's Self-Determination Scale (Wehmeyer 2000) related to the broad concepts of personal autonomy and psychological empowerment were administered in in-person interviews with youth.

  • More than half of youth with disabilities report they are at least "pretty good" in the areas of performing arts, creative arts, mechanical tasks, computer use, and physical or athletic performance.

  • A comparison of parents' and youth's perceptions indicates that, overall, parents tend to hold higher opinions of their children's strengths than youth hold of themselves.

  • More than half of youth with disabilities report being able to tell peers their feelings when peers upset them, and almost two-thirds say they can get adults to listen to them and get information they need.

  • Among out-of-school youth who acknowledge that they have a disability or special need, approximately one-third report often providing professionals with feedback on those services.

  • Half of youth with disabilities score in the high range on the measures of personal autonomy, and more than 8 in 10 have high scores related to psychological empowerment.

  • Receiving instruction in transition planning and youth's level of participation in the transition planning process are not associated with higher personal autonomy or psychological empowerment scores.