Self Advocacy and Your Students - Parker Core Knowledge Charter

How To Best Help Your Child
Become Their Own Self-Advocate
Amanda Ziemer
School Counselor
Parker Core Knowledge Charter School
What is Self Advocacy?
It means taking the responsibility for communicating
one’s needs and desires in a straight-forward manner
to others.
It is a set of skills that includes:
• Speaking up for yourself
• Communicating your strengths, needs and wishes
• Being able to listen to the opinions of others, even when their
opinions differ from yours
• Having a sense of self-respect
• Taking responsibility for yourself
• Knowing your rights
• Knowing where to get help or who to go to with a question or
Why Is This Important?
Teaching your child self advocacy skills early on
provides him or her with an opportunity to learn and
practice important life skills.
Some advantages your child may gain after learning these skills
• Practicing goal setting
• Become more self-aware (having a better understanding of
who they are, and where their individual strengths and
weakness lie)
• Building teamwork skills
• Developing an ability to speak up for himself or herself
• Participating in a process of resolving differences
• Gain essential skills necessary for post secondary educatiand
• It
How To Teach These Skills To Your
is never too early to start teaching your child
how he or she can advocate for himself or
herself. Like many other important life skills,
self-advocacy is a critical tool your child needs
in order to achieve goals, increase self
sufficiency, and become a successful young
adult. It is a life long process that begins with
your child learning by watching you, as a
parent, be a good advocate.
Where To Start…
Some questions you may want to discuss with
your son or daughter include:
• What do you want to learn or work on this year?
• What are your special concerns for the school year?
• How do you learn the best?
• What do you need to be successful?
• What would make learning easier for you?
• What do you wish your teacher and other school staff
would understand about you?
What If My Child Is On An Individual
Education Plan (IEP)?
Involving your child in the IEP process
is the best way for them to fully
understand what their IEP is all about
and to practice self-advocacy skills
with adults.
If Your Child Has an IEP
Some ways for your child to be involved in their IEP meeting are not limited
to, but include:
Introducing him or herself
Writing down ideas,
questions, and concerns
before the IEP meeting
Rehearsing what he or she
wants to say in the IEP
Talking about his or her
interest strengths, and
desires for the future
• Explaining his or her disability to
the team
Leading all or part of the IEP
Helping the team develop IEP goal
Asking for explanations if he or
she doesn’t understand something
Reviewing what the team has
agreed to at the end of the
Other Recommendations That Will Help
Promote Self Advocacy In Our Children…
Self advocacy skills training be implemented into the
curriculum beginning in elementary
Students should learn about their weaknesses and strengths
(One way for them to do this is having them take a Cognitive
Process Inventory (CPI))
Students should know what the whole IEP process is about and
be encouraged to participate in developing their personal IEP
Adolescents should have the opportunity to take a course in
self advocacy/self determination their 9th grade year or earlier
if possible
“Sometimes, the growth and increased
knowledge that come from selfadvocacy are more powerful than the
fairness of the solution.”
Deborah McCarthy
Student affairs administrator in the Services for Students with Disabilities Office at The
University of Texas at Austin.
Born with Cerebral Palsy.
(2004). How You Can Help Your Child Learn To Be A Good
Self Advocate. Action Information Sheets. Retrieved
from http.//
Fasset, D.R. (2002). How Can I Help Myself? Self
Knowledge, Self Advocacy, and Academic Success.
McCarthy, D. (2007). Teaching Self Advocacy to Students
with Disabilities. Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 14-15. doi: