On a basic level, self-awareness is the knowledge of one’s separateness and uniqueness from others. Understanding one’s uniqueness in terms of personal attributes (e.g., interests, strengths, weaknesses, abilities, limitations, and disabilities) and knowing how to utilize personal attributes to influence quality of life, are prerequisites to acting in a self-realizing manner (Wehmeyer, Agran, Hughes,1998). Without this sense of self as a separate and unique entity, it is impossible to be self-determined (Wehmeyer, 1997).
The following material can be used to help consumers build on their current knowledge of their uniqueness. The focus in this support is on gathering information on personal interests, abilities, strengths, weakness, limitations, and resources in order to contribute to an increased self-awareness. Additional suggestions are found in Bolding & Wehmeyer (1999).
Help your consumer make a list of the things that he or she likes to do. The consumer does not have to be good at the activity, just interested in it. One example might be singing. You do not have to be an opera star to like singing in the shower. Try to help the consumer come up with five to ten things that are fun for him or her. If the consumer can think of more, keep writing. When the consumer gets stuck, think about the following questions:
Interests and personality types can be identified using a variety of formal or informal interest inventories. Formal inventories, quizzes or tests generally require purchasing the test and securing the interpretation from a trained counselor. These might include: The Harrington-O’Shea Career Decision-Making System Revised (2000); Strong Interest Inventory (Counseling & Psychological Services, 2004); the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Counseling & Psychological Services, 2004); the DISCOVER computer-based assessment tool- includes several interest inventories as well as other self-assessment tools (ACT, Inc. 2001-2004); and The Strong Career Test online (Jones, 2004). Information about the tests mentioned above can be obtained from the websites listed in the references.
Informal interest inventories are generally free and include the Personality Test Center: Type theory (PersonalityTest.net, 2003); Self-awareness Activities: Interest Inventory (Bliss, n.d.); the Beehive Career Coach Interest Inventory quiz (2001-2004); or one of the Activity forms listed on this web site such as Looking At My Disability, Looking At My Interests, and Looking For My Skills.
All of us are good at doing some things. These are our abilities and our skills. They are part of our strengths. Just like our interests, abilities can relate to all areas of life including education, recreation, and work. Abilities may relate to gardening, cooking, caring for pets, mathematics, or chess games. Abilities are not necessarily things a consumer likes doing but they are things that the consumer is good at doing. If a consumer has difficulty identifying his or her abilities, make it a collaborative effort. The consumer can ask their friends and family to help them identify their unique abilities. The following questions may help generate some additional information on consumer abilities and skills:
Page updated 10/30/06
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