What is Self-Advocacy?

Self-advocacy is the ability to identify a goal AND communicate what you need to overcome any challenges you may have in achieving it.

For example, let’s say that a student suffers from an auditory processing disorder and is required to take notes during a college lecture. Self-advocacy allows him or her to communicate with their instructor the nature of the issue and what they will need to overcome it. Specifically, they may request transcripts of the lectures or the ability to record the session for playback later in a quiet environment. Self-advocacy can also be defined as the ability to represent oneself, one’s views, and interests.

Characteristics of Self-Advocacy

The ability to speak up on one’s behalf is something that everyone can benefit from, but it is particularly important for those with learning differences. However, an individual’s ability to communicate requires several skills:

  • The ability to tell the difference between a “want” and a “need.”
  • Knowing which option to choose based on the possible outcomes.
  • The ability to initiate and take action when needed.
  • Knowing how to employ problem-solving skills.
  • A striving for independence but recognizing when help is needed.
  • Self-evaluation skills.
  • Ability to negotiate and compromise to reach goals.
  • Persistence.

How Self-Advocacy Improves Academic Performance

Without a doubt, any individual will do better in school if they get the assistance they need to overcome their learning differences. Self-advocacy not only gets them that support they need for academic learning, but it also teaches them to look out for their own interests. This move towards independence benefits them as they draw closer to adulthood.

Achieving independence can make a big difference in a student’s success. Instead of feeling dependent on others, they can feel empowered to meet challenges and succeed.

How We Teach Self-Advocacy

We work with students on a one-on-one basis through in person or virtual coaching sessions, usually between 1 to 5 hours per week. Each program is customized for the individual. We begin our work by meeting each student where they are, building a trusting and supportive relationship between our staff and families, with a focus on individualized goals and objectives. We use the backdrop of real life activities, experiences, and environments to teach self-advocacy skills, independence, and problem solving in the moment.