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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Know Strategies
    Brainstorm different scenarios your student may experience and share strategies, such as technology, modifications, accommodations or getting a helper.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Peggy Ployhar, TTHSC Lead Writer and SPED Homeschool Founder & CEO

Peggy Ployhar, SPED Homeschool Founder & CEO, is a leader in the special education homeschooling community and a frequent writer and speaker on special education homeschooling issues. Peggy’s journey into homeschooling started 18 years ago when her oldest child was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.

Peggy is the former THSC (Texas Home School Coalition) Special Needs Team Lead, MACHE (Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators) Special Needs Coordinator and MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) Area Coordinator for MN, ND and SD. She is certified by the American Association of Christian Counselors and trained as a Precept Bible Study leader.

In her free time Peggy enjoys aerial silks, paddle boarding, cooking, hiking and reading.

You can tune in every Tuesday evening on the SPED Homeschool Facebook page to watch Peggy host SPED Homeschool Conversations, a weekly talk show about special education homeschooling or you can join her daily on her personal YouTube channel, Daily Revelations.

Peggy Ployhar