Best Practices in Self-Advocacy Skill Development (2023)

Links updated, March 2019

The Parent Center network has a common list of 14priority issueswe look forward to addressing The list comes to us from the US Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).

Welcome to theHub's page that focuses on the priority topic of "best practices in developing self-advocacy skills."Here you will find quick links to materials and resources that you can use with youth with disabilities and their families to develop your own advocacy skills. Articles tagged with**they are designed to be parent friendly.

  • What is self defense and why is it important?
  • Resources for young people themselves
  • Self Defense Fact Sheets, Toolkits and Training Materials
  • Resources on the Parent Center Network
  • Resources in other languages
  • Don't forget to search the Hub!!

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What is self defense and why is it important?

coleslawanswers those two questions quite succinctly, so let's quote them. Speaking directly to people with disabilities, but relevant to all of us:

What is self defense?
Self-advocacy is learning to speak for yourself, making your own decisions about your own life, learning to gather information to understand the things that matter to you, finding out who will support you on your journey, knowing your rights and responsibilities, solving problems. , listening and learning, reaching out to others when you need help and friendship, and learning about self-determination.

Why is self defense important?
So that you have the knowledge you need to succeed and have the opportunity to participate in the decisions that are made about your life.

CountryYou may need some guidance for this topic as well. Here is one such resource.

Self determination training video.
Especially for Parents (25 minutes) | Available in English and Spanish.
Do you want to help your child with a disability lead a productive and inclusive life? Your son or daughter needs self-determination skills, such as making decisions, setting goals, and advocating for themselves. The Self Determination video will provide you with a foundation on how to teach these skills to your son or daughter. Also available inEspañol(How to help our children develop their self-determination). From the Utah Parent Center.

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Youth Resources

There are self-advocacy resources for parents, families, and service providers, but what about resources that directly target youth with disabilities? Fortunately, there are many. We've listed a few starters below (trust me, there are more!). Access them, share them, use them with young people with disabilities.

More information on self defense: talk.
For young people with intellectual disabilities.
This feature-rich site combines minimal text with short, step-by-step video clips of young people themselves talking about self-defense. includes amap to help youth identify self-advocacy groups in their state. A lot ofself defense video storieson key issues like the ADA, education, work, health, home, and self-determination.

Youth in ACTION! Becoming a Stronger Self Advocate.
Speaking directly to young adults with disabilities, this resource defines self-advocacy, describes why it's important, and suggests 4 steps to becoming a stronger self-advocate. Youth-friendly, brief, to the point, this resource is a product of the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth).
Youth is a must see site for youngsters. This fun and engaging site will remind students with disabilities that they are not alone as they explore community and build a future. It is packed with great resources and information. Introduce the youth to the site beginning with “What can I do here?

Self Defense: Find the captain in you!
Video (10 minutes) | A fun and entertaining way to introduce self-advocacy to youth with disabilities.
Follow two hosts with dry humor on their morning talk show,noon in the valley, while exploring and discovering the powerful force of a term called: Self Defense. Covering two interviews and speaking with their ever-helpful sidekick, the Self-Defense Captain (yes, he actually wears tights!), they learn to understand what you're good at, what you need help with, and how to communicate effectively with people in life. it is very important to everyone, especially young people with disabilities. Remember: Nothing about you without you!

He speaks! Using what you have to get what you want
Engaging multimedia tool that easily guides youth through the training.
This tool helps youth with disabilities learn how to speak up and advocate. With this tool, they can set personal goals, learn their rights and responsibilities, learn the best way to ask for help, and get organized.

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Self Defense Fact Sheets, Toolkits and Training Materials

Ah, where to start and what to list? There is an incredible amount of material designed to help schools and families prepare young people with disabilities to speak up for their rights. In fact, much more than we will list here. We know you don't have all day, so start with these resources and see how they meet your learning and training needs.

Whose future is it anyway?(2nd edition)
Subtitled "A Student-Driven Transition Planning Process",Whose future is it anyway?helps prepare students for IEP meetings and develop self-determination skills through six sections comprising 36 class sessions. The lesson pack comes with atrainer guideIt describes the lessons, how to teach them, the roles of students and teachers, and the expected results.

Develop self-defense and self-care management skills.
Here is a helpful list of tips and ideas for parents to develop their children's self-advocacy skills at home, especially with regard to health care and management. There are several videos too.

Youth Curriculum Guide.
The purpose of is to help young adults plan for life after high school. The site also provides information, links, and interactive activities for adults who work directly with youth (including, but not limited to, teachers, youth workers, community leaders, parents, and other adult family members) to help youth plan for their future. . It can be used as a "stand alone" curriculum or as a supplement to an established curriculum.

MY! Lessons to teach self-awareness and self-defense.
Issue! The lessons are designed to help educators teach students critical transition skills. It's a pretty complete package. There are 23 lessons in total, each taking 45-60 minutes (not including extension activities). Lesson 1 focuses specifically on self defense. Other lessons help students know their rights, improve their communication skills, and learn to advocate for themselves in high school, on the job, and in a post-secondary education setting. Each lesson plan includes student objectives, materials, class opening, procedures, closing, and student assessment.

My health, my choice, my responsibility.
My health, my choice, my responsibilityis an 8-session curriculum-based group training program that focuses on the daily promotion of healthy choices. The emphasis is on gaining the knowledge to make informed decisions and the skills and tools necessary to advocate for good health. Topics include self-advocacy at doctor's appointments, physical activity, nutrition, home health and safety, and feelings. Participants learn the material through discussions, exercises, and visual aids. The link above will take you to a subsection, where you'll need to scroll down a bit to find the CV (go right after "Online Videos").

Personal Preference Indicator: A Guide to Planning.
For use with people with significant developmental disabilities | Available in English and Spanish.
This is a tool to assist in planning with and for a person with a developmental disability. It is a guide, not a checklist, for accessing information about a person's preferences in 7 domain areas. The items are used as clues or suggestions to discuss with the person or their family/friends important considerations in developing a support plan. Domains explored include individual favorites, emotions, socialization, self-determination, physical self-determination, health, and family roles. Also available inEnglish| Indicators of Personal Preferences: A Guide to Planning.

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Resources on the Parent Center Network

Self defense: tips for teens.
From the Utah Parent Center, this little cheat sheet is a good place to start learning about self-advocacy. Below, watch two videos of youth with disabilities talking about self-advocacy.

In the Driver's Seat: Six workshops to help with transition planning and self-advocacy for youth with special needs.
red familiar da vermont,in the driver's seatis a series of six workshops for youth transitioning from high school to adulthood. While this curriculum is suitable for all students, it is designed for students with special needs, especially those with developmental disabilities. During the workshops, youth experience hands-on learning that helps them achieve adult life goals. With encouragement and support, young adults identify their abilities, interests, and needs and work to improve their self-sufficiency skills.

Self defense.
This webpage from the Oklahoma Parent Center briefly explains what self-advocacy is and why it's important, then offers a number of resources on the topic, including articles, podcasts, and helpful organizations and agencies.

Dude, where's my transition plan?
Includes checklists you can use with youth.
Targeting youth with disabilities directly, this 28-page brochure comes from PEATC, Virginia's PTI. In addition to several transition planning worksheets, the booklet also includes several self-advocacy checklists and discussions.

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Resources in other languages

Self Defense: A Valuable Skill For Your AD Teen.
It is important that children learn self-defense techniques in order to be successful at all stages of their lives. In the past, self defense was a term applied primarily to adults with disabilities, but recently more emphasis has been placed on teaching the technique to tweens and teens. This article offers tips for developing self defense techniques.

Self determination | Learning modules for the deafblind intervener.
Through these modules, deafblind stakeholders will learn the four components of self-determination and identify opportunities for self-determination in video-based case studies. They will conduct environmental analyzes to determine what opportunities exist for students who are deafblind to develop self-determination skills with their peers in real school settings.

How to help our children develop their self-determination.
Do you want to help your child with a disability lead a productive life and a life of inclusion in your community? Your child will need to develop self-determination skills, such as goal setting, decision making, and self-advocacy. This self-determination video will serve as the foundation for teaching these skills.

Indicators of Personal Preferences: A Guide to Planning.
This guide is not a checklist, but rather a guide to accessing information about the preferences of a person with a significant intellectual disability. The items listed are intended to be used as hints or callouts to remind you of important issues that need to be addressed in your conversations with the person. These informal conversations can provide a base of preferences to begin planning.


Do you have a resource you would like to recommend?
It's hard to find information in other languages ​​about how to use the data to advance school reform efforts. If you know of a resource that would be helpful to other Parent Centers and the families they serve, please share the news with Lisa Küpper, Product Development Coordinator at ¡Gracias!

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Don't forget to search the Hub!!

Since this priority page was originally created, we have added many "Self defense” for the Hub library. These are easy to find! Just use the following link:

There is oneSORT BYdropdown menu on the functions to be listed. Set the dropdown to “Date (most recent).” And there you will get the latest resources on self defense!

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