Self-Advocacy 101

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It is important to communicate for yourself, when possible. Self-advocacy can enable individuals to be more directly involved in decision-making. To borrow a saying: “Nothing about us without us”. As

this Wikipedia article about the above saying

points out, it has been used by the disability community and other groups. In this article, I will discuss some self-advocacy strategies and resources.

 

To advocate successfully, it is important to first understand what self-advocacy means. According to

this definition of self-advocacy,

the term means identifying what you want to accomplish,  be assertive, set goals and make decisions for yourself. In my experience, I consider it important for a self-advocate to be respectful of other perspectives and persist when necessary. Being respectful of those who may disagree with your viewpoint demonstrates

empathy.

As the definition above from Merriam-Webster dictionary points out, empathy refers to an ability to understand another person’s feelings or thoughts. While I understand that some people are unable to demonstrate empathy, doing so shows respect for everyone involved. I will now discuss persistence.

 

By persistence, I refer to not giving up. To be persistent in a positive way, it is important to also be assertive. According to

this definition of assertiveness from Psychology Today,

people who are assertive respectfully and clearly communicate their positions and needs. Example: as of this writing I await response from someone regarding a personal matter. Due to no feedback from the person for over a week, today I sent a communication stating I am waiting for a response. My goal was to encourage follow-up. I will now discuss some self-advocacy resources.

 

There are a variety of self-advocacy resources available online. For example, a web resource focused on parents and youth offers

“Best Practices in Self-Advocacy Skill Building”.

There are links on the page to a variety of training materials and fact sheets. For people who learn best visually, I found a YouTube

video: “Self Advocacy Skills – Self Advocacy Strategies”.

The presentation identifies 5 self-advocacy strategies. I encourage readers to learn more about self-advocacy using the method which works best for you.

 

Question for readers: If you have needed to self-advocate, what strategies did you use? I will return next week with another article.

 

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