Tips for Developing Helping Your Child Develop Self-Advocacy Skills

Brief Introduction: The term “advocacy” generally refers to the process of trying to persuade others to support your position or point of view. Advocacy can take place in many contexts, both formal (such as in an IEP meeting, in a courtroom, or on Capitol Hill) and informal (such as when a teenager makes a case to his parents to be allowed to stay out late). Like anyone else, individuals with disabilities need to be able to speak up for themselves in order to express their wishes, wants and needs as well as to obtain the help and support of others, when needed. In other words, they need to develop and use self-advocacy skills.
Depending on your child’s age, this can mean anything from communicating his preferences at home (e.g. letting you know he’d rather have an apple than an orange for a snack) to letting an employer know that he needs a reasonable workplace accommodation (e.g., a change in workspace lighting). Regardless of your child’s age or disability, there are always aspects of even the most complex tasks related to self-advocacy that your child will be able to learn to perform. The following tips were compiled to help you and your child begin to navigate the process of developing self-advocacy skills.

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