Self-Advocacy is Important at Any Age
Self-advocacy has become a buzzword in special education. It is the ability to make one's own decisions and learn how to speak up for oneself. While it may sound simple, it can be a difficult concept to teach.
Think of all the mixed messages we sometimes give our children. Although we tell them that they should self-advocate, many of their accommodations are chosen for them and put in place by teachers and the school system. How often do we ask students if they feel the accommodations are effective?
Self-advocacy should begin at a young age. Children learn through day-to-day activities, like picking out what they will wear to school, or what after-school snack they want. As they grow older, the decisions they make should increase in frequency and difficulty.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case for children with disabilities. Oftentimes it is just easier to make decisions for them. Students with sensory disabilities frequently miss out on incidental learning opportunities; thus, parents and teachers must intentionally create educational situations. This takes time and considerable effort. If a student falls behind in learning, it can become easier and easier to make their decisions for them.
Self-advocacy becomes extremely important for students in high school as they begin to consider options for what comes next. The IEP process encourages students to be active participants and be fully engaged in deciding their own futures. However, school personnel are often overworked, and it can be easier to “handle things” rather than teach a student all they need to know in order to make informed decisions.
DCMP has videos for all ages that can help teach and promote self-advocacy. And because they are fully accessible, parents and educators can utilize DCMP to promote independent learning opportunities. These videos can help children from preschool through high school learn self-respect, increased self-esteem, and self-advocacy skills. There are also videos for adults to improve their knowledge and skills in fostering self-advocacy.