5 Easy Steps to Help Students with Special Needs Become Their Own Advocates
By Peggy Ployhar
There are many advantages to homeschooling a child with learning issues or a disability, but one disadvantage is fewer opportunities to learn self-advocacy.
Homeschooling parents, usually close at hand, may not always allow their special needs children to practice advocating for their own needs. There is a great tendency to jump in and do things for them, including answering questions they could answer, which limits opportunities to develop skills that will be necessary for them in adulthood.
Here are 5 easy steps to help students learn to advocate for their needs.
- Understand Disability
Find a thorough definition that is simple to understand. Read and explain the definition to your student to ensure he has complete understanding. If your student can articulate this definition, he should memorize it; however, if your student is unable to articulate the definition, print it on a card that he can share with others.
- Communicate Needs
Practice with your student on how to speak to others about his disability or how to show the card that explains the disability. You can start at home by acting out situations, but move out into the real world for the best learning.
- Know Strategies
Brainstorm different scenarios your student may experience and share strategies, such as technology, modifications, accommodations or getting a helper.
- Take Responsibility
Help your student understand his limitations. By having the confidence to articulate to others what limitations he experiences, others will better understand what your student needs to succeed. Truthfully estimating his own abilities and limitations will help your student understand when there is a need to ask for help, instead of just expecting others to know how to accommodation him.
- Discern Boundaries
Understanding societal boundaries is best taught through experience. Allowing your student to use his budding self-advocacy skills in various places like church, co-op, field trips and community events will help him discern what is acceptable and what is not.
Over time and with practical application, these strategies will aid your student in becoming his own best advocate.
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