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Advocating for your child

A way of life

It is never too early or late to start advocating for your child. Like many other important life skills, advocacy is a critical tool you need in order to ensure that your child will have academic and life-long educational success, achieve goals, increase self-sufficiency, and become a successful young adult. It is a life long process that will help your child learn by your example, as a parent, how to be a good advocate.

What exactly does advocacy mean? It means taking the responsibility for communicating an individual’s needs and desires in a straightforward manner to others. It is a set of skills that includes:

• Speaking up 

• Communicating the strengths, needs and wishes

• Being able to respect and listen to the opinions of others, even when their opinions          differ from yours

• Having a sense of self-respect

• Taking responsibility

• Knowing your rights

• Knowing where to get help or who to go to with a question

One of the best places to start advocating for your child is in his or her Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. Some skills you will gain when advocating include:

• learning about the impact of your child’s disability

• practicing goal setting

• building teamwork skills

• developing an ability to speak up for yourself and/or your child

• participating in a process of resolving differences

• gaining an understanding of your child’s strengths and needs

• learning how to ask for and accept help from others.