Guest post by eLuma Counselor – Angela Hickey
Spring is the time for new beginnings which allows us an opportunity for growth in all areas of our lives. Self-advocacy encompasses our relationships with others, how we communicate our needs, and creating healthy boundaries of what we expect and deserve for ourselves. Self-advocacy becomes more important as we get older and have increased responsibilities, independence, and needs for help and support. When we can advocate for ourselves, it increases positive interactions in school and home, improves self-confidence, and gives us the building blocks for becoming a successful and happy adult.
Self-advocacy is defined as: The ability to speak up for yourself and the opportunity to ask for what you want and need. Self-advocacy is understanding your rights and responsibilities and promotes problem-solving, listening skills, and communication.
Self-advocacy can be broken down into three categories:
Understanding – Example: I understand that I don’t do as well in Math as in other subjects, and I might need additional support to pass or do well in that class.
Knowing – Example: I know I can reach out to a trusted adult to ask for help, attend help labs or additional services offered to support me, and/or email a teacher to get a better understanding of what the assignment is asking of me.
Communicating – Example: I can talk to my teacher and let them know I am not understanding an assignment or raise my hand in class to ask for help.
How to encourage self-advocacy skills:
Talk with your student about strengths and weakness
Ongoing conversations about learning and thinking differences
Praise your child’s effort
Give opportunities for your student to solve problems before stepping in
Giving a variety of choices that are acceptable that your child can pick from
Provide feedback to your child in a positive manner
Try this self-advocacy activity
- Lee, A. The importance of self-advocacy for kids who learn and think differently. Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://www.understood.org/en/friends-feelings/empowering-your child/self-advocacy/the-importance-of-self-advocacy
- Center, A. Tips on how to foster self-advocacy (infographic). Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://www.pealcenter.org/tips-on-how-to-foster-self-advocacy-6