Self-Advocacy: Definition & Skills

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Self-advocacy is the process of speaking up for yourself, and each person should have these skills. The following lesson talks about self-advocacy, when you can self-advocate, and the skills you can use to do so.

What is Self-Advocacy?

Self-advocacy is the process of speaking up for yourself and your needs, and, if the situation calls for it, also doing what you need to, to make sure your needs are met. Think of it like this: if you have a severe allergy to a food that is always served in your school cafeteria, and even being near it made you ill, then it would be up to you to speak up, talk to the principal, and explain your situation. They may not be able to stop serving the dish, but they may be able to set up a way for you to not sit in the cafeteria for your lunch. Your voice is important, so it's also important to make sure it is heard, and no one can advocate for your concerns better than you.

When to Be a Self-Advocate?

Being a self-advocate is always a good thing, if done respectfully. You can be a self-advocate with your friends, when you speak up on places you would like to go, instead of just always deferring to what they want. You can be a self-advocate when dealing with bullies, by making sure you have notified someone of the situation, because your life and health matter. So, how do you advocate for yourself?

Advocate

Ways to Advocate for Yourself

There are skills to learn on how to advocate for yourself, but first there are a few things you should know:

  • Know your rights - Whether in school or at a job, it's important to know the rules and regulations and what your rights are. So, if your rights are being oppressed, you can self-advocate.
  • Take responsibility for your actions - If you are responsible for your own actions, then when a situation of self-advocacy comes up, you are respected for your behaviors and listened to.
  • Have self-respect and respect for others - Believe in yourself and see yourself as important but also value others; this helps in relationship building.

Now, say you have a situation because you have a learning disability, and you need assistance, but your school is not set up for it. This is a perfect time to self-advocate, and these are the skills you need to know:

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