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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.

Related Resources

Self-Advocacy for Preschool & Elementary Kids

Still image from: Amazing Grace
8 minutes 41 seconds
Grade Level: K - 3
Still image from: Amazing Kids Of Character: Courage
Amazing Kids Of Character
Season 0 / Ep 4
17 minutes 35 seconds
Grade Level: 3 - 8
Still image from: Amazing Kids Of Character: Empathy
Amazing Kids Of Character
Season 0 / Ep 5
17 minutes 1 seconds
Grade Level: 3 - 8
Still image from: Amazing Kids Of Character: Perseverance
Amazing Kids Of Character
Season 0 / Ep 3
18 minutes 53 seconds
Grade Level: 3 - 8
Still image from: Amazing Kids Of Character: Respect
Amazing Kids Of Character
Season 0 / Ep 2
17 minutes 18 seconds
Grade Level: 3 - 8
Still image from: Amazing Kids Of Character: Responsibility
Amazing Kids Of Character
Season 0 / Ep 1
18 minutes 53 seconds
Grade Level: 3 - 8
Still image from: Chrysanthemum
14 minutes 36 seconds
Grade Level: Ps - 4
Still image from: Chrysanthemum (Spanish)
14 minutes 34 seconds
Grade Level: Ps - 4
Still image from: Doing The Right Thing:  Building Character
15 minutes 11 seconds
Grade Level: K - 4
Still image from: Everybody's Different: We Like Different Things
12 minutes 22 seconds
Grade Level: K - 3
Still image from: Goose
6 minutes 50 seconds
Grade Level: 1 - 5
Still image from: Great Cup Stack Challenge
Social Skills Cinema
Episode 4
6 minutes
Grade Level: 5 - 6
Still image from: Leo the Late Bloomer
7 minutes 44 seconds
Grade Level: Ps - 2
Still image from: My Best Me: All About Self-Esteem
13 minutes 12 seconds
Grade Level: 3 - 6
Still image from: No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie
1 hour 20 minutes
Grade Level: 5 - 12
Still image from: Popularity:  What's The Price?
15 minutes 18 seconds
Grade Level: 5 - 10
Still image from: Respecting Yourself
24 minutes
Grade Level: 3 - 8
Still image from: Self-Advocacy Solutions To School Problems
Social Skills Cinema
Episode 8
2 minutes 31 seconds
Grade Level: 3 - 5
Still image from: Self-Esteem: Being the Real Me
22 minutes 30 seconds
Grade Level: 3 - 8
Still image from: Short Stories For Children Series: Kirby Kangaroo (Spanish)
Short Stories For Children
Episode 2
7 minutes 48 seconds
Grade Level: Ps - 3
Still image from: Short Stories for Children Series: The Eyes of Karras
Short Stories For Children
Episode 3
13 minutes 47 seconds
Grade Level: 3 - 6
Still image from: Short Stories For Children: Kirby Kangaroo
Short Stories For Children
Episode 1
7 minutes 36 seconds
Grade Level: Ps - 3
Still image from: T Is for Terrible
5 minutes 52 seconds
Grade Level: K - 3
Still image from: The Dot
7 minutes 26 seconds
Grade Level: K - 4
Still image from: The Dot (Spanish)
7 minutes 23 seconds
Grade Level: K - 4
Still image from: The North Star
15 minutes 52 seconds
Grade Level: K - 6

Self-Advocacy for Middle and High School Kids

Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Ambitious Achievers (Jose Silva, Auto Mechanic)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 13
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Ambitious Achievers (Lillian Garcia, Interpreter Supervisor)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 14
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Ambitious Achievers (Lisa Fishbein, Miami Dolphins Cheerleader)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 18
8 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Ambitious Achievers (Matthew Baker,  Caterer)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 15
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Ambitious Achievers (Rosa Lee Gallimore, Performing Artist)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 16
9 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Ambitious Achievers (Sean Kelly, Shipwright)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 17
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Brilliant At Business (Vol. 2)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 6
27 minutes 6 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: DEAFfinitely Dynamic (Vol. 3)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 7
32 minutes 51 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: DEAFinitely Dynamic (Curtis J. Pride, Baseball Player)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 8
8 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Phenomenal Professionals (Claudia Gordon, ESQ)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 2
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Phenomenal Professionals (Dr. Angel Santiago, Optometrist)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 3
9 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Phenomenal Professionals (Dr. Scott Smith, MD, MPH)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 4
10 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
A person holding a dog on a leash while someone in a lab coat examines the dog. The dog's ears are back, and the dog looks nervous. Caption: I pay attention quite a bit to how the animals behave.
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 5
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Phenomenal Professionals (Vol. 1)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 1
35 minutes 53 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Tech Savvy (Ben Magee, Automation Technology Faculty)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 9
7 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Tech Savvy (Dawn Schakett, Web Developer)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 11
7 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Tech Savvy (Van Nguyen, Information Technology Consultant)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 12
12 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Still image from: Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Tech Savvy: (Brian Doane, Computer Analyst)
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 10
9 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Still image from: Amazing Kids Of Character: Courage
Amazing Kids Of Character
Season 0 / Ep 4
17 minutes 35 seconds
Grade Level: 3 - 8
Still image from: Amazing Kids Of Character: Empathy
Amazing Kids Of Character
Season 0 / Ep 5
17 minutes 1 seconds
Grade Level: 3 - 8
Still image from: Amazing Kids Of Character: Perseverance
Amazing Kids Of Character
Season 0 / Ep 3
18 minutes 53 seconds
Grade Level: 3 - 8
Still image from: Amazing Kids Of Character: Respect
Amazing Kids Of Character
Season 0 / Ep 2
17 minutes 18 seconds
Grade Level: 3 - 8
Still image from: Amazing Kids Of Character: Responsibility
Amazing Kids Of Character
Season 0 / Ep 1
18 minutes 53 seconds
Grade Level: 3 - 8
Still image from: Andy: My Story About Having A Passion
My:24
Episode 1
12 minutes 6 seconds
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Behind The Scenes In The Amazon: Christy Smith, The Deaf "Survivor" (Tells) Signs All!
49 minutes 22 seconds
Grade Level: 8 - 12
Still image from: Coen: My Story About Organ Donors
My:24
Episode 2
12 minutes 6 seconds
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Dave: My Story About Depression
My:24
Episode 3
12 minutes 6 seconds
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Dominic: My Story About Being Different
My:24
Episode 4
12 minutes 6 seconds
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Drowning in D's: You Can Turn Your Grades Around
18 minutes 51 seconds
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Faith: My Story About Being Confident
My:24
Episode 5
12 minutes 6 seconds
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Get A Winning Attitude
18 minutes 28 seconds
Grade Level: 6 - 9
Still image from: Getting a Job! for Students Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Your Rights and Responsibilities
Getting a Job! for Students Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 3
6 minutes 37 seconds
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Still image from: Great Cup Stack Challenge
Social Skills Cinema
Episode 4
6 minutes
Grade Level: 5 - 6
Still image from: Harry: My Story About Down Syndrome
My:24
Episode 6
12 minutes 6 seconds
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Ken Levinson's introduction of LOFT
2 minutes
Grade Level: PT/TT -
Still image from: Lucas: My Story About Dyslexia
My:24
Episode 7
12 minutes 6 seconds
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Mikey: My Story About Family
My:24
Episode 8
12 minutes 6 seconds
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie
1 hour 20 minutes
Grade Level: 5 - 12
Still image from: Popularity:  What's The Price?
15 minutes 18 seconds
Grade Level: 5 - 10
Still image from: Real Life Teens: Broken Homes
Real Life Teens
Episode 5
22 minutes 19 seconds
Grade Level: 8 - 12
Still image from: Real Life Teens: Cyber-Bullying
Real Life Teens
Episode 12
19 minutes 2 seconds
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Still image from: Real Life Teens: Diffusing Racial Tension On Campus
Real Life Teens
Episode 7
19 minutes 32 seconds
Grade Level: 8 - 12
Still image from: Real Life Teens: Ethics In School
Real Life Teens
Episode 6
20 minutes 55 seconds
Grade Level: 8 - 12
Still image from: Real Life Teens: Rich Kids, Poor Kids
Real Life Teens
Episode 8
20 minutes
Grade Level: 8 - 12
Still image from: Real Life Teens: Self-Destruction
Real Life Teens
Episode 3
17 minutes 37 seconds
Grade Level: 8 - 12
Still image from: Real Life Teens: Self-Esteem And Achievement In School
Real Life Teens
Episode 1
18 minutes 54 seconds
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Real Life Teens: Sexual Responsibility
Real Life Teens
Episode 10
19 minutes 1 seconds
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Still image from: Real Life Teens: Teen Rebellion
Real Life Teens
Episode 2
17 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Real Life Teens: Teens and Gangs
Real Life Teens
Episode 11
16 minutes 25 seconds
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Still image from: Real Life Teens: Teens And The Media
Real Life Teens
Episode 13
21 minutes 48 seconds
Grade Level: 8 - 12
Still image from: Real Life Teens: Weapons And Violence On Campus
Real Life Teens
Episode 4
21 minutes 26 seconds
Grade Level: 8 - 12
Still image from: Real Life Teens: Your Bill Of Rights At School
Real Life Teens
Episode 9
18 minutes 17 seconds
Grade Level: 8 - 12
Still image from: Respecting Yourself
24 minutes
Grade Level: 3 - 8
Still image from: Rida: My Story About Women & Choice
My:24
Episode 19
12 minutes 6 seconds
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Self-Esteem For Native American Students
18 minutes 10 seconds
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: Straight Talk About Mental Health: Image and Identity
18 minutes 21 seconds
Grade Level: 6 - 12
Still image from: The Dream Share Project
1 hours 2 minutes 35 seconds
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: The Heather World: Heather Artinian At TEDxGeorgetown
14 minutes 13 seconds
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Still image from: The Mirror In My Mind: Body Image & Self-Esteem
29 minutes 30 seconds
Grade Level: 7 - 12

Parent Resources for Self-Advocacy

Still image from: Accessing The Dream: Preparing Deaf-Blind Youth For A Self-Determined Life
1 hours 10 minutes 24 seconds
Grade Level: PT/TT -
Still image from: Families Growing Together: Difficult Behavior
Families Growing Together
Episode 1
17 minutes 57 seconds
Grade Level: PT/TT -
Still image from: Families Growing Together: Doing Something Right
Families Growing Together
Episode 2
17 minutes 10 seconds
Grade Level: PT/TT -
Still image from: Families Growing Together: Mutual Respect
Families Growing Together
Episode 3
15 minutes 40 seconds
Grade Level: PT/TT -
Still image from: Families Growing Together: Showing Love
Families Growing Together
Episode 4
16 minutes 42 seconds
Grade Level: PT/TT -
Still image from: Families Growing Together: Teens and Boundaries
Families Growing Together
Episode 5
15 minutes 32 seconds
Grade Level: PT/TT -
Still image from: Families Growing Together: The Family Meeting
Families Growing Together
Episode 6
13 minutes 51 seconds
Grade Level: PT/TT -
Still image from: Feelings And Motivation
45 minutes 50 seconds
Grade Level: PT/TT -
Still image from: Parenting Children With Learning Differences: LD, ADHD
46 minutes 57 seconds
Grade Level: PT/TT -
Still image from: Successful Parenting:  Discipline Makes the Difference (Spanish)
Successful Parenting
Episode 10
19 minutes 42 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Still image from: Successful Parenting: Communication Is Crucial
Successful Parenting
Episode 2
18 minutes 11 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Still image from: Successful Parenting: Communication Is Crucial (Spanish)
Successful Parenting
Episode 9
19 minutes 3 seconds
Grade Level: PT/TT -
Still image from: Successful Parenting: Discipline Makes The Difference
Successful Parenting
Episode 3
19 minutes 57 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Still image from: Successful Parenting: School Success Takes Teamwork
Successful Parenting
Episode 4
15 minutes 42 seconds
Grade Level: PT/TT -
Still image from: Successful Parenting: Self-Esteem Is The Key
Successful Parenting
Episode 1
19 minutes 23 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Still image from: Successful Parenting: Self-Esteem Is the Key (Spanish)
Successful Parenting
Episode 8
18 minutes 25 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Still image from: Successful Parenting: Taming The Homework Monster
Successful Parenting
Episode 5
16 minutes 21 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Still image from: Successful Parenting: The Single Parent Family:  A Challenge For Children
Successful Parenting
Episode 6
18 minutes 36 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Still image from: Successful Parenting: The Single Parent Family:  A Challenge For Parents
Successful Parenting
Episode 7
16 minutes 16 seconds
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Still image from: The Americans With Disabilities Act: The Americans With Disabilities Act and the College Years (Part Two)
The Americans With Disabilities Act
Episode 2
23 minutes
Grade Level: PT/TT -
Still image from: The Americans With Disabilities Act: The Basics of the Americans With Disabilities Act (Part One)
The Americans With Disabilities Act
Episode 1
34 minutes
Grade Level: PT/TT -

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