Saturday, September 28, 2013

What Parents Need to Know About Raising a Self Advocate

One of the side benefits of inclusion is our children learning to be self-advocates. A self advocate is someone who knows how and when to make their wants, needs, and opinions know. Parents do not always realize how important this will be in the long term. Letting our children see us advocating for them as early as possible it important. Parents are the first models and teachers for their children. One of my children with ASD always went to her IEP meetings. If we want our children to be able to advocate they need to see us do it. Another one of my daughters with autism didn't want to go to any meeting. She definitely could advocate not to go! Many times children with disabilities are taught to be compliant. There is a time and place for compliance. There is also a time and place to advocate for yourself. Learning how and when to do this is just as important a skill. Whether it is advocating for services or modifications in school or advocating for medical services it is important for our children to see us do it. Some children will get upset so we need to have plans for an aide or family member to be ready to take our child out of the situation. At different points in life our children will start mimicking what we do. This might be annoying when they do it with us but is critical for their long term health and growth. It is also not surprising that a child with a disability would advocate with us first because we are safe people in their lives. Later in life our children will be able to tell people in the world what they want or need. They will even be able to do it when they know other people do not agree if they have seen parents and others do it. When we as parents are gone this will be an important daily living skill our child will need.
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