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Self-Advocacy Activities

Instructor: Lori Sturdivant

Lori has a specialist's degree in Instructional Leadership/Mild Moderate and currently serves as the Lead Teacher for The University of Southern Mississippi's Autism Project.

This lesson will provide you with classroom activities that will teach students how to advocate for themselves. Included are examples for students at the elementary, middle, and high school level.

What Is Self-advocacy?

Self-advocacy is speaking up for oneself. It means having the ability and information to get what you want or need to be successful. It refers to knowing what rights you have, who can assist you, and having the power to enforce those rights.

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Self-Advocacy Activities in Elementary School

Young students can begin self-advocacy by becoming more self-aware. Have students complete an 'All About Me' activity. This can be a a worksheet or mini-book that has students answer questions about themselves. You can create your own to fit the specific needs of you student culture and climate. You should include the following statements and questions:

  • My favorite game is
  • My favorite foods are
  • After school I like to
  • My favorite color is
  • I am really good at
  • I need help with
  • Someone that can help me is
  • I want to be when I grow up

me

Having students know more about themselves will make it easier for them to speak up when they need to.

Self-Advocacy Activities in Middle School

You can complete a more adult version of 'All About Me' with middle school students, as well. Students' interests and preferences have generally changed a good deal from elementary school to middle school. It is never a bad idea to practice self-awareness at any age.

This age is also a good time to start teaching Disability Awareness. This is important for students so that they understand how their disability affects them in different aspects of life. Help students gather information about their disability and have them explain in their own words how they are affected by it. Also, help students identify what accommodations they need to be successful - academic and life-skills accommodations or assistive technologies.The more students know about what accommodations are out there and what they need, the more likely they will be able to ask for them if the opportunity arises.

You can make the lesson more engaging by identifying famous people who have disabilities. There are many celebrities who are very open about their disabilities, and they are examples of advocating for oneself.

Self-Advocacy Activities in High School

Students at this level should begin thinking about their transition into the community after high school. You can set up community trips or invite guests to your classroom to let students practice their advocacy skills.

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