Six Qualities of a Successful Self-Advocate

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An important part of being successful in life is self-advocacy.  Self-advocacy is defined as “The action of representing oneself or one’s views or interests,” and it is something we talk about at length in the DREAM BIG program. Students who have completed Career Camp know the skills necessary to be a successful self-advocate, and have opportunities to practice. But you can never have too much practice, especially if you plan to attend college or trade/tech school.

One great way for students to practice self-advocacy is to attend their Individualized Education Plan meetings and speak up. IEP meetings don’t happen often, so another great way to practice self-advocacy is to have a conversation with each of your teachers about your needs and accommodations at the beginning of the year. This can be as simple as an introductory email or as formal as a conversation after school. As you initiate these conversations, remember the Six Qualities of an Excellent Self-Advocate:

  1. Self-Awareness – Know who you are and understand your needs
  2. Team Player – Be able to create collaborative relationships
  3. Problem Solver – Isolate the problem, propose a solution, work to implement the best solution and evaluate
  4. Goal Oriented – Set SMART goals and stick with them
  5. Persuasive – Do research to make and argue your case; you are trying to help someone understand why you are making the request
  6. Reflective – Take time to learn what does/does not work and ask questions for clarity

Students who continue their education past high school must be effective self-advocates to succeed in college and adulthood. Practicing with your high-school teachers will help you feel comfortable with advocating for yourself during the transition to higher education.

If you have any questions regarding self-advocacy or the transition process, don’t hesitate to reach out to Sarah. And if you’re already in college, be sure to check out our newest program, ACCESS U, which is designed specifically for students with disabilities in higher education.

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