Developing Self-Advocacy Skills: 4 Ways You’re Already Doing It and 4 New Things You Can Try
It’s never too early to begin teaching self-advocacy skills and summer is the perfect time to start. As a parent advocate, you spend a lot of time supporting your child and speaking up for what she needs. You think through how her disability affects her in school, in the community and with family and friends.
What Is Self-Advocacy?
Having you as an advocate serves your child well. But encouraging your child to find ways to understand and speak up for her needs will serve her well, too.
If you break down self-advocacy, it’s about three things—the ability to understand your strengths and weaknesses, knowing what you want or need to be more successful, and being able to let other people know about your needs and decisions.
4 Ways You’re Already Supporting Self-Advocacy
That sounds like a lot to expect from your child, but it doesn’t have to be as big and overwhelming as it sounds. In fact, you’re probably already showing your child ways to self-advocate and don’t even know it. Here’s what you’re already doing to help your child learn to be a self-advocate.
1. You encourage your child to ask questions.
Listening to and answering endless questions can be exhausting. But it’s your child’s way
of learning more about how the world works and how she fits into the world. Keep encouraging her to ask questions, especially the hard ones You may not always have answers, but your child will learn that’s it’s okay to ask people to help find answers.
2. You let your child make decisions.
Letting your child choose her clothes for the day or what you have for dinner seems like a simple thing—and it is. But it’s also a way for her to learn that she can make choices for herself and that she has some “say” in her own life.
3. You help your child find solutions.
Helping your child find solutions to every day issues is not the same thing as fixing her problems. Solutions are the ways you teach your child to work with her strengths and around her weaknesses. They can even be small things, like cutting the itchy tags out of a shirt.
4.You celebrate triumphs, no matter how small.
Teaching your child to celebrate the small things helps her learn to break goals into smaller steps. It shows her that triumphs don’t have to be big to be worthy.
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