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What is Self-Advocacy

Self-advocacy is the ability to communicate what your needs and wants are. Being a good self-advocate has big benefits for kids and adults who have disabilities. People who know how to self-advocate are more likely to do well in school, work, and life. They often feel more confident, and can better ensure that their opinions, needs, hopes, and fears are heard and addressed.

Self-advocacy creates independence and empowers people to find solutions to problems that line up with their own preferences and unique needs.

Self-advocacy has three key elements:

  • Understanding your needs
  • Knowing what kind of support might help
  • Communicating these needs to others

People often learn self-advocacy in small steps. They may start with just understanding or finding a way to communicate about one of their challenges. They may be able to say that something is wrong, but not know what would help. This is self-advocacy, too! Self-advocacy is a skill that takes time and practice. At FMPTIC, we encourage families to include self-advocacy goals in the IEP, discuss opportunities to practice self-advocacy skills, and participate in the many training opportunities around self-advocacy that are offered. Check out the Self-Advocacy Resources to get connected to some of Illinois' Self-Advocacy network agencies and programs.

Here at Family Matters, we work hard to help encourage students and adults to become strong Self-Advocates. Each month, Bridget Brown publishes a monthly self-advocacy Blog called "Self Advocacy Rocks." One of our Educational Support Coaches works with students in local schools to develop and practice self-advocacy skills. 

We also publish a Quarterly Transition-related newsletter called the Newsblast. This Newsletter shares important transition-related news, resources, and information for students who are developing and working on their transition plans in school. 

Family Matters also hosts and promotes several Self-advocacy-related Events. Make sure you keep up to date on our upcoming events page.