Visual Communication Analysis (VCA) is the application of Self-Determination Theory (SDT) utilized with visual instruction with the use of specific software built using the principles of SDT. This combination leads to accelerated learning for most children while promoting self-esteem and confidence.

Self-Determination Theory was formally established in the 1970’s by researchers Richard Ryan and Edward Deci.  It is a general theory of human motivation that emphasizes that behaviors that originate from within are more powerful than behaviors that are pressured by rewards and punishment. Self-Determination Theory states that humans have three psychological needs: ownership, competence, and connection.



The need for ownership reflects the need to feel personally invested in the process and that goals are one’s own. 


Competence involves the need to feel capable of achieving desired outcomes and feeling positively challenged (stretched but not strained).


Connection reflects the need to feel that others understand and that one is not being judged for making mistakes. 

Conditions that support these needs will foster the most willing and high quality forms of motivation and engagement for a wide range of activities. In addition, the degree to which any of these three psychological needs is unsupported will have a strong detrimental impact on wellness.

Since its inception, Self-Determination Theory has been researched through various methodologies, with diverse populations including youth and adults with disabilities.  There is a large body of research and clinical trials supporting Self-Determination in many domains including education, maladaptive behaviors in schools, organizations, sport and physical activity, religion, health and medicine, parenting, media and psychotherapy. Research indicates that students with intellectual disability and other learning disabilities have benefited significantly from the use of Self-Determination Theory, particularly in regard to living independently, employment, and self-esteem. 

Adaptive behavior skills have also been found to be related to more positive self-determination as opposed to Intellectual Quotient (IQ). Additionally, Self-Determination Theory has been studied and subsequently successfully utilized for decreasing maladaptive or negative behaviors and violence in children. Research on Self-Determination Theory is growing exponentially and Deci and Ryan, each with more than  200,000 citations, are considered in the top ranks of psychologists in the world.  In fact, the American Psychological Association (2004) has recognized and continues to advocate for the application of Self-Determination Theory for children with special needs and/or special educational needs.