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Melissa Geller Kent State University

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1 Melissa Geller Kent State University
Self-Advocacy Melissa Geller Kent State University

2 Self-Advocacy Defined
Self-advocacy refers to: An individual’s ability to effectively communicate, convey, negotiate or assert his or her own interests, desires, needs and rights. It involves making informed decisions and taking responsibility for those decisions (VanReusen et al., 1994)

3 Considerations for Self-Advocacy
Self-knowledge is the first step towards advocating for your rights. You need to know your strengths, needs, and interests before you can begin to advocate. Borrowed from:

4 Tips for Self-Advocacy
Know and understand your rights and responsibilities Learn all you can about your disability, needs, strengths, and weaknesses Know what accommodations you need as well as why you need them

5 Tips for Self-Advocacy, cont.
Know how to effectively/assertively communicate your needs and preferences Find out who the key people are and how to contact them if necessary Be willing to ask questions when something is unclear or you need clarification Adapted from:

6 Myths about self-advocacy
#1 It’s better to avoid the label “learning disability” because such labels are ultimately damaging to the student’s self esteem.

7 Myth #1: Suggested Practice
Know how to describe your learning disability, as well as your specific academic strengths and weaknesses to a variety of different audiences. Begin to accept the term “learning disability” and a description of difficulties as simply how you learn. Do not let it determine your identity.

8 Myth #1: Suggested Practices
Sample accommodations appropriate to your learning disability based on information in your diagnostic report. Try out different accommodations and then decide which ones work for you. Read about other adults with learning disabilities who were successful in college.

9 Myth #2: Now that there are programs or students with learning disabilities at many post -secondary settings, their existence guarantees that students’ essential needs will be met.

10 Myth #2: Suggested Practice
Take responsibility for your learning disability. Practice becoming more assertive with professors and support staff. Find a relaxed but confident communication style. Get to know professors and administrators in your program.

11 Myth #3: Obtaining the highest grades possible is the major yardstick of effective self-advocacy. Better grades lead to increased options upon leaving a postsecondary setting.

12 Myth #3: Suggested Practice
Join a support group for students with learning disabilities on your campus, or start one! Enjoy relaxing and growth-oriented activities. Seek a balance academically and socially.

13 Myth #3: Suggested Practice
Get involved in an activity on campus for as much time as you feel you can afford. It’s a great way to meet people and develop social skills. Ask for help with personal difficulties you may be having by seeing a professional in the counseling center on campus.

14 Myth #4 When students encounter a very difficult academic situation, it’s best to let their parents take over.

15 Myth #4: Suggested Practice.
Parents can join support groups in their area even after their daughter or son has left for college. Parents need to let go. They cannot be n charge of the adult life of their son or daughter.

16 Myth #4: Suggested Practice
Realize that the most valuable lesson a student can learn as he/she is on the threshold of adulthood is learning about the consequences of his/her actions.

17 Myth #4: Suggested Practice
Above all, a student with a learning disability needs to become comfortable with asking for help from those most able to be effective in meeting their needs in a Postsecondary setting, whether they’re professors, LD service providers, persons in career or counseling services, and others ( Found at on 6/20/04)

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