What advice would you give a family member about the importance of a person getting involved in self advocacy?

In the fall of 2011, Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered collaborated with six self-advocacy organizations to run focus forums with 10 to 30 peer leaders with developmental disabilities. Here are their responses:

People First of Alabama:

  • Let People First be a role model and example for your family member
  • Self-advocacy tells it like it is, it is important not to sugar coat situations

People First of Arizona

  • Self-advocacy gives you a voice
  • It doesn’t matter what your disability is. Some people have a voice through a communication device or sign language. The more people we have with disabilities speaking up, the more we can show that we contribute to society
  • Giving advice to family members is a great idea. But sometimes it is difficult to effectively convince family members that any person with a disability can be a good self-advocate
  • Self-advocacy groups are good for the social aspect, learning to be independent, leading them to make their own decisions and teaches youth to learn on their own, rely on themselves and know it will be okay
  • Self-advocacy groups ask youth what they want to be when they are grown up.
  • Just do it. Allow them to take risks.
  • Self-advocacy provides good role models, great information and friendships for your child’s future.
  • It shows different ways to be creative that you may not have thought of on your own

People First of Georgia

  • Stay out of the way!
  • Back off!
  • Try to better understand people with disabilities.
  • Keep the persons business confidential.
  • We are the people that self advocacy affects.
  • We are the solution; not the problem.
  • We are people.
  • We do the same things you do. We just do them in a different way.
  • You have to let us live our lives. If you don’t, we’ll be stuck when you die.
  • We will be better people for it. Let us be human.

Green Mountain Self-Advocates

  • It could help their children’s self-esteem
  • So they can keep up with what is going on
  • It increases options for social networking
  • It could give time separate, away from other family members
  • Learn to figure out what to say and speak up for themselves.
  • Some people feel more comfortable talking to a friend or someone their own age, instead of a parent or staff person because sometimes a peer has been in the same situation.

Montana Youth Opening Doors Through Advocacy

  • No one knows better than you what you want and what you need! Being able to advocate for yourself opens so many doors for you that without it, life is nearly empty.
  • When it comes to self advocacy never think that it’s not important. I will guarantee that you are not the only one who has ever dealt with it. It goes a long way to advocate.
  • If you work what is important to you, other people will stand with you.
  • If you really want to live your life the way you want to live it (not how people tell you to live your life) you have to make a solid firm decision to advocate yourself. Educate yourself on a daily basis because self advocacy isn’t just a onetime deal.
  • Self advocacy is not only important but it opens the doorway not only for yourself but for others because it educates other people on what is possible for them.  Maybe someone will say “I could do that just like you.”  
  • Self-advocacy includes knowing when to ask for help, such as taking a class to learn better study skills, or using a tutor for difficult classes.

Our Voices Count, Too Self-Advocacy Council of South Carolina

  • Self-advocacy is being able to be yourself. It’s much easier to be yourself than to try and be someone else.
  • It teaches you to stand up for yourself and others.
  • Stay in tuned to the self-advocacy movement and use the internet to find out what others are doing across the nation.
  • Never neglect opportunities to help support people grow.

 Just believe in me and be supportive of me.

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