Variability in the availability of choice to adults with mental retardation

Roger Stancliffe, Michael L. Wehmeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Adults with mental retardation (n = 392) involved in self-advocacy groups completed the Life Choices Survey (Kishi et al., 1988). A large number of these respondents indicated that they made choices about the activities listed on the LCS. Most other studies using the LCS reported that respondents experienced far fewer choice-opportunities. The present findings are important because they suggest that the lack of choice-making opportunities for people with mental retardation is not the result of the presence of a cognitive disability, and that we need to examine other factors to explain the lack of choices made by people with mental retardation. In this study, total choice availability was found to vary with level of disability and type of living arrangement but not by age or gender. The effect of the individual's living arrangement on choice remained significant even when level of disability was held constant statistically. Choices about employment, living companions and spending one's money were significantly less available than choices involving other more mundane, day-to-day matters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-328
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1995

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The data set used in this study is part of a larger project, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to The Arc of the United States, to identify component elements of self-determination for individuals with cognitive disabilities and develop a school-based assessment procedure to measure self-determination. More information about this project, sample recruitment and characteristics, as well as project activities and outcomes, are available in We-hmcver. Kelchner and Richards (1994, in press).


  • Adults
  • Life choices survey
  • Mental retardation


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