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Academy for Self-Management: from disabilities to abilities

If people with intellectual disabilities are given tailored training, this promotes self-management in their daily lives. They also need less support. These are the research findings of neuropsychologist Janice Sandjojo. PhD defence on 9 April.

People with intellectual disabilities often want to become more independent, but are prevented in various ways: for instance, their carers don’t have enough time or family members are overprotective and do too much for them. Neuropsychologist and PhD candidate Janice Sandjojo researched how to promote self-management in people with intellectual disabilities, setting up a ‘living lab’ in the process: the Academy for Self-Management.

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Own learning objectives

Allowing the research participants to choose their own learning objectives – such as doing the laundry, cooking or handling money – reduced the amount of support they needed. ‘With a clear, step-by-step, tailored approach, people with intellectual disabilities can learn a lot,’ says Sandjojo. ‘However, it is important for everyone around them to sing from the same hymn sheet – otherwise it’s confusing or people even work against each other. The self-management objectives and everyone’s role in the process towards more self-management must be clear. Good communication is crucial.’

More attention required

With this research, Sandjojo wants to emphasise that in academia, health care and politics more attention should be paid to promoting self-management in people with intellectual disabilities. ‘The good thing about my research is that it is applied research, conducted with Raamwerk, a care institution for people with intellectual disabilities,’ says Sandjojo. ‘My academic research is of immediate value to the participants – they learn new skills. And I hope that my research inspires other care institutions too.’

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