The lesson of self advocacy: If I don't do it for myself who else will?

There are so many important lessons in life that it is tough to prioritize them all. Although, I have a soft spot in my heart for self advocacy. Whether a student is boisterous and verbal or timid and non-verbal or somewhere in between, they can learn to "speak" up for themselves. I would argue that it is imperative that they learn this skill above all others.

There are many reasons for making this argument. First, compliance and following a guide are excellent abilities, but at the end of the day, a person will definitely always have themselves. They may learn to be compliant but that can lead to bullying or other abuse at its most nefarious or simply passive people at its least nefarious.

Next, as a person matures, what they think about themselves and how they integrate that knowledge changes. It is important for others to value those changes but no one will know for sure if the person doesn't learn to advocate for themselves. Too often, I hear students asking questions as a way to make statements. This simple syntactical error is actually indicative that the student doesn't really know what they think until they here it confirmed back to them by someone else.

Lastly among my reasons, it feels good to the person doing the advocacy. We all want to be heard and when we are, it is a relief. Every week I see at least one student stand a little taller or smile to themselves a bit wider when they realize their idea was heard by me.

The act of self-advocacy is built over much time and practice. It starts in small ways with making choices and taking actions. Above all, it comes from having the time and space to self advocate. And that, is up to us no matter who we support. 708-955-5711