With the help of social media, more and more young people are not only joining important conversations—they are leading them. This generation has recognized the power of their voices. They know the importance of advocating for themselves and for others and that’s worth celebrating!
Self-determination is one of the first steps to being a good self-advocate. This means choosing and setting your own goals, making important life decisions, accepting responsibility for those decisions, problem-solving, monitoring your behavior, and taking action to get the things you want and need.
What is Self-Advocacy?
Self-advocacy skills are needed to achieve an empowered state of self-determination. Self-advocacy is defined as the action of representing oneself. It is the ability to communicate your needs effectively. This can look different from person to person and from situation to situation.
Being a good self-advocate is especially beneficial and important for kids and adults who have different learning abilities. This is because those who self-advocate:
- Understand and value their needs
- Recognize their worth
- Feel empowered to ask for help
- Speak up
Ultimately, self-advocacy cultivates independence and agency, empowers, and is essential for success.
Teaching Self-Advocacy Strategies
Self-advocacy can be taught at any time, however, it is best to start teaching the concepts of self-advocacy early. Research shows that teaching children and adolescents self-advocacy skills is strongly linked to their ability to be fulfilled, successful, and independent adults.
Here are strategies that you can use to support, encourage, and teach self-advocacy:
- Model what self-advocacy looks like
- Allow your learner to be a decision-maker in their learning
- Help your learner define and understand their needs
- Encourage independence
- Openly discuss their strengths and weakness with them
- Set goals with your learners
- Praise your learners when they speak up and ask for help
- Provide your learners with the opportunity to practice self-advocacy through role-playing
- Celebrate your learners
Teaching Students Self-Advocacy with Everyday Speech
In January 2022, Everyday Speech released a variety of brand new self-advocacy materials on the Social Learning Platform. Use the following videos and interactive activities to help your learners start developing the skills they need to be successful self-advocates!
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Celebrating Differences | Video
Students learn the importance of celebrating and respecting themselves and others for who they are regardless of differences in abilities, culture, or gender.
I Love Who I Am | Interactive Activity
Learners practice celebrating their different strengths and weaknesses by answering questions about what they love about themselves, their families, and their communities.
Students learn how to advocate for their different learning, social-emotional, and sensory needs in school.
Being Proud of Who I Am | Video
Being proud of who we are means we accept ourselves. We love ourselves as we are. We also celebrate and respect others for who they are regardless of differences in abilities.
Speaking Up At School | Interactive Ativity
Everyone has different learning, social-emotional, and sensory needs. If we are in a situation where someone doesn’t know what we need, we speak up for ourselves.
“As an SLP whose entire caseload in on the spectrum, Everyday Speech is a life-saver! It provides the framework for 90% of my lessons for students working on social pragmatic skills. Worth every penny.”– Kate Nelson, M.S., CCC-SLP