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Strategies for Self-Advocacy

Strategies for Self-Advocacy

Self-advocacy is the ability to speak up for oneself and one’s interests. It is associated with stronger outcomes in and out of school, more independence and autonomy, and a better ability to adapt to new circumstances (Lamar University, 2016; Fiedler & Danneker, 2007; Daly-Cano et al., 2015). Educators and families play a crucial role in ensuring that all students, regardless of race, ability, gender identity, or socioeconomic status, have the tools to speak up for their needs (Daly-Cano et al., 2015).

Strengthen students’ self-advocacy skills with the following tips:

  • Provide language that promotes self-advocacy. Offer students sentence stems to use when they need assistance.
    • I’m struggling with _____. Can we talk about it later?
    • I’m working hard, but I’m still not understanding _____. Can you help me?
    • I’m not sure what I need. Can you please talk with me?
  • Show students how to respond to their problems. Brainstorm different resources for different problems students may have. If they are struggling academically, who can they reach out to? If a student is feeling anxious or sad, where can they turn? Students will be better able to seek help when they know where to turn.
  • Remind students that everyone needs help. Have students explore successful current and/or historical figures and research the ways that getting help brought them success. Highlight that leaders like the president of the United States, have advisers and great vocalists, actresses, and sports figures have coaches who helped them develop their skills.

With consistent practice, support, and encouragement, students can learn to be their own biggest advocate and reach out for the help they need to succeed.

Strategies for Self-Advocacy



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