Self-Advocacy and Self-Determination

A Teen’s Guide to Autism
Created by Alexandra Jackman of Westfield, NJ, the purpose of this 14 minute documentary, released in 2013, is to help teenagers be more aware and understanding of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It has also been translated to Spanish.       English       Spanish
Source:  YouTube, September 2013

Accessing the Dream:  Preparing Deaf-Blind Youth for a Self-Determined Life
All young adults who are deaf-blind need extensive transition planning and services in order to experience success in adult life. Transition Institutes have historically sought to bring together young adults and their families to build skills and provide training in the pursuit of better personal transition outcomes. These institutes are a collaborative effort across 21 State Deaf-Blind Projects over a span of 10 years. The energy of the 2012 and 2015 Transition Institutes provided opportunities to capture interviews with youth, families, and service providers to share their perspectives on the experience of transition.

This video product is based on the Taxonomy for Transition Programming developed by Paula D. Kohler, Ph.D. The video chapters offer insight and understanding based on foundational best practices in transition planning: Student-Focused Planning, Student Development, Interagency Collaboration, Program Structure, and Family Involvement.
Source:  National Center on Deaf-Blindness, June 2016

Advocacy 101
A page on the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council website that is dedicated to helping individuals with developmental disabilities, their family members and other concerned citizens to become stronger advocates for systems change.

Advocacy Center
The Advocacy Center protects the legal rights of people with disabilities by ensuring access to programs, benefits and services to meet their needs.

Advocating for Yourself in Treatment – Youth Tip Sheet
This Tip Sheet was developed by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry to provide guidance for how child and adolescent psychiatrists can more effectively communicate and partner with youth people.
Source:  American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, January 2012

Childhood Meets Adulthood
A website for youth to start thinking about what they want to do with the rest of their life.  This website was built to help you plan for the future. What will you do after high school? Will you work? Go to college? Live in a place of your own? By using this Web site, you can plan for your future right now!

Difabilities:  A Self Advocacy and IEP Curriculum for Students
A website by a teacher for teachers with links to the material developed that are used as the curriculum to learning the IEP and Self-advocacy in her 8th grade class.  Often times, most of her students do not know what their disabilities are, so we talk about the types and then have them investigate them. She has taught this at both the 8th grade level and 6/7th grade level. A few of the worksheets are modified for Middle School (MS) level, so watch for those.

Disability Disclosure Video
This video provides a short introduction to disability disclosure for youth with disabilities in school or at work. It shows a young adult filling out an application for employment and trying to decide if he should disclose or not his disability. There is also a scene in which an employer asks if the young adult has a disability, which is not legal.
Source:  This video was developed by YOUTH POWER! and YouthFX through the WIA incentive grant with cooperation from the NYS Department of Labor

How Can My Child Be Involved in the IEP Process
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) states that a child should attend his or her individualized education program (IEP) conference, if appropriate. Each family must decide if the child should attend, based on individual circumstances. Families who include their child in the IEP meetings report that the child’s presence puts the focus on the child.
Source:  Pacer

How You Can Help Your Child Learn to Become a Good Self-Advocate
It is never too early to start teaching your child how he or she can advocate for himself or herself. Like many other important life skills, self-advocacy is a critical tool your son or daughter needs to achieve goals, increase self-sufficiency, and become a successful young adult. It is a lifelong process that begins with your child learning by watching you, as a parent, be a good advocate. As your children become older, the ways in which students can  participate in their Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings increase.
Source:  Pacer, The National Parent Center on Transition and Employment

IEP:  Involving the Student is Important for a Successful Plan
The Individual Education Plan (IEP) can be one of the most important elements of your son’s or daughter’s school experience. An IEP should serve as a road map for success, built around a student’s strengths with special attention given to areas of academic or personal growth.
Source:  Pacer

It’s Your Future:  Information for 8th and 9th Grade Students
Planning ahead can make a big difference in what happens for you in the future. If you receive special education services at school and are in 8th or 9th grade, this is great information for you.
Source:  Pacer

Kids As Self Advocates (KASA)
Kids As Self Advocates (KASA) is a national, grassroots project created by youth with disabilities for youth. We are teens and young adults with disabilities speaking out. KASA knows youth can make choices and advocate for themselves if they have the information and support they need.

Know It 2 Own It:  Advocating for Your Rights on Campus
Understanding your rights and advocating for yourself on campus.

Louisiana’s Councils Advocacy Network (LaCAN)
LaCAN (Louisiana Council’s Advocacy Network) furthers the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council’s mission by advocating for policies and systems that support inclusion everywhere people learn, work, live, and play.  LaCAN advocates for service systems that support children and adults with disabilities to live in their own homes and be fully-included and participating members of their local schools and communities.

Learning About Mental Illness:  In Our Own Words
A series of videos of youth and youth adult advocates talking about their experiences with mental illness.
Source:  American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, January 2017

Making the Move to Managing Your Own Personal Assistance Services:  A Toolkit for Youth with Disabilities Transitioning to Adulthood
Transitioning into adulthood can be awkward for nearly every young person. For transition-age youth with disabilities, issues surrounding managing Personal Assistance Services (PAS) can be intensified by normal developmental concerns such as striking out on your own and navigating the road into adulthood.  Accessing and maintaining long-term supports, such as PAS, has often been a significant barrier to employment for youth and adults with disabilities. This new guide assists youth in strengthening some of the most fundamental skills essential for successfully managing their own PAS: effective communication, time-management, working with others, and establishing professional relationships.  Such skills are key to not only enhancing independence, but also thriving in the workplace and growing professionally.
Source:  National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability and Office of Disability Employment Policy – U.S. Department of Labor

ME! Lessons for Teaching Self-Awareness & Self-Advocacy
Self-determination skills, such as self-advocacy and self-awareness, have the potential to increase successful secondary and postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities.  The Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment at The University of Oklahoma, Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education has created a great curriculum to teach students these very important skills.
Source:  The University of Oklahoma, Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, Zarrow Center for Learning Development, 2010

Navigate the Louisiana State Capitol
This webpage is part of the Louisiana DD Council website and features information on how to navigate the State Capitol.  Included on this page is a virtual tour and history of the Capitol, directions, parking and contact information.

Navigating the World Wide Web:  A How to Guide for Advocates
To be an effective self-advocate, you first must know how to find your legislators.  This guide will provide information on how to find your legislator, their bills, voting records, upcoming meetings and more.
Source:  Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council

Partners in Policymaking
This is a 6 month training (1 weekend per month) for people with developmental disabilities and parents of young children with developmental disabilities.  Topics include History, Philosophy & Values, Assistive Technology, Inclusive Education, The Legislative Process, Supported Employment, Supported Living, Community Building, Community Organizing, and Systems Change Advocacy.

People First of Louisiana
People First of Louisiana is a self-advocacy group run by people with disabilities, for people with disabilities.  Click on their website link to learn more about them and how to join a local chapter.

Self-Advocacy:  A valuable Skill for Your Teenager with LD
Self-advocacy is understanding your strengths and needs, identifying your personal goals, knowing your legal rights and responsibilities, and communicating these to others. Because your child lives with his learning struggles on a daily basis, he must learn how to maneuver through life’s challenges and obstacles to make sure his needs are met.  Learn tips for developing self-advocacy skills.

Self-Advocacy:  Find the Captain in You
Follow two hosts with dry humor on their morning news talk show, Midday In The Valley, as they explore and discover the powerful force of a term called: Self Advocacy. Covering two interviews and speaking with their ever helpful side kick, Captain Self Advocacy (yes he is really wearing tights!), they come to understand why understanding what you’re good at, what you need assistance with, and how to effectively communicate with people in life is very important for everyone, especially youth with disabilities. Remember: Nothing About You Without You!
Source:  Pacer Center, December 2010

Self-Advocacy:  Tips for Teens
A great resource from the Utah Parent Center, this short tip sheet is a good place to start learning about self-advocacy.  At the bottom are links to 2 videos of youth with disabilities talking about their own self-advocacy.

Speak Up!  Using What You’ve Got to Get What You Want
This tool helps youth with disabilities learn how to speak up and advocate for themselves. With this tool, they can map out personal goals, learn about their rights and responsibilities, learn the best way to ask for help, and get organized.

Speaking Up for Yourself and Other Youth:  What is Advocacy?
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry develops tools and trainings for members looking to hone their advocacy skills and get involved.
Source:  American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, January 2017

Taking Charge of Your Treatment
A text message conversation that came from a dialogue among members of the Youth Advisory Board, who all have experiences with mental health, in order to help others understand how to take charge of their treatment.
Source:  American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, January 2012

The 411 on Disability Disclosure:  A Workbook for Youth with Disabilities
The 411 on Disability Disclosure: A Workbook for Youth with Disabilities is designed for youth and adults working with them to learn about disability disclosure. This workbook helps young people make informed decisions about whether or not to disclose their disability and understand how that decision may impact their education, employment, and social lives. Based on the premise that disclosure is a very personal decision, the Workbook helps young people think about and practice disclosing their disability.  The guide comes in pdf; word and audio versions.
Source:  National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability, 2015

The Art of Impact:  A Handbook for Self-Determined Living
The Art of Impact explores the power of self-advocacy. It presents the thoughts of a core group of committed leaders on the Self-Advocate Leadership Circle of the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD). The book shares tips, tools, and strategies for advocacy to help people with disabilities live self-determined lives and become advocates for change.

The eBook is available on a computer or a variety of mobile devices, including an iPad or a Smartphone; it can also be printed for people that would prefer a paper version. It was written by a self-advocate, with this message for those with disabilities: “This is your life and you have the right to speak for yourself and to be involved in the decisions that impact your life.”

The Art of Impact is written in easy-to-understand language and speaks directly to “you”—where the “you” is the budding self-advocate. It’s divided into 4 chapters:

  • An Introduction to Self-Advocacy
  • NACDD’s Leadership Circle
  • Learning and Practicing Self-advocacy
  • Becoming an Effective Leader

Source:  National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, 2015

The Prison of Your Mind
Motivational speaker Sean Stephenson has a gravely voice that some say lends itself to comedic humor, and he claims to be an expert on only ONE thing… how to be himself. His positive message of self-empowerment and self-love is universal.  “If someone pities me, they are wasting their time,” he says. Join the nearly 2.6 million viewers who have listened to his TEDx talk.
Source:  Tedx Talks

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?
A great resource to help youth and young adults identify their interests, talents and work preferences through a series of career exploration questions and steps.
Source: Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University

Youthhood’s Curriculum Guide’s purpose is to help young adults plan for life after high school.  The site also offers information, links, and interactive activities for adults who work directly with youth (including but not limited to teachers, youth workers, community leaders, parents, and other adult family members) to help youth plan for their futures