Do 2 Year Old Self Correct Language When They Speak Self-Advocacy For Teens

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Self-Advocacy For Teens

Students with special needs, including ADHD, learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders, often need people to advocate for them to get appropriate supports from schools and therapists. Most of that work goes to parents and grandparents during early and middle childhood. When these students hit the teenage years, they need to start learning how to advocate for themselves. With high school graduation just a few short years away, it’s time to start thinking about how they will succeed in less protected environments.

After graduation, how will a student handle a situation in which a boss gives him an assignment he doesn’t understand? Or a professor or teacher gives an assignment that she doesn’t understand? Or a colleague asks him why he has a specific apartment?

What skills do these students need to learn before graduation to be able to handle these types of situations? Remember, teenagers with learning differences grow up to be adults with learning differences. Adults with learning differences must live in the “real world” where people who do not know them will not automatically accommodate them or tolerate their differences. Adults who depend too much on others speaking for them are less likely to thrive and more likely to fail. The goal of self-advocacy skills training is to give students the tools they need to function independently after they leave high school. That means they won’t need someone else to think for them or speak for them. This preparation can take several years, so it is best to start, at least, when the child is in high school.

What is Self-Advocacy?

Self-advocacy refers to people with disabilities speaking up for themselves. Parents can help their teens be effective self-regulators.

1. Facilitate self-discovery and self-awareness. Gradually give your child more information about her learning disability while constantly highlighting strengths and talents.

2. Encourage self-acceptance. Don’t try to hide your teen’s disability from his as this only creates an atmosphere of shame. Be open about the terms that educators and clinicians use to describe the learning disability (eg, ADHD, LD, etc.) while emphasizing that this difference is not necessarily a disability. You want him to be able to say, “I know it’s good to learn differently and I can succeed in life.”

3. Teach self-defense skills. Help your teen begin to practice speaking up for herself. In situations where you would normally talk, let your teen try it. Make sure she knows what medications she is taking and why or what accommodations she needs and why. You want to build your teen’s confidence by being able to say, “I know how to explain how I learn and ask for what I need to succeed.”

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