A Quick Guide To Self-Advocacy (With Examples)

Do you know how to communicate your several needs just at the right time? If yes, you’re truly good at self-advocacy. The concept Self-Advocacy revolves around the idea of freely expressing your needs by speaking up for yourself. It also includes telling people your thoughts, emotions, and feelings in the most convenient manner. Studies suggest that people with the skill of self-advocacy are likely to succeed in their academics and career in the future.

People with good self-advocacy skills are often aware of their rights and responsibilities in society. They are generally aware of right and wrong while possessing the ability to take a strong stand for their opinions and beliefs. As life makes you decide and choose from various possibilities in situations, Self-Advocacy helps you do that confidently and easily. It motivates you to make the right decisions, develop the right way of expressing opinions and learn the essence of communication.

Self-advocacy – Why is it important?

Self-advocacy enables people to express their needs and participate in life’s major and minor decisions. If you are unable to express or get your critical needs met, you might feel frustrated that your opinions are never heard. Hence, self-advocacy promotes better control and empowerment, allowing you to communicate and understand yourself better. 

1. Helps Communicate Needs

Self-Advocacy helps acceptably communicate needs and desires to people. People cannot understand your needs unless you speak up for yourself. For parents, it is impossible to understand the needs and thoughts of their special children without enabling healthy communication. Self-Advocacy promotes open communication while being confident about their situation and needs. 

2. Enhances Mutual Respect

We have been through the phases that include bearing people who do not understand our thoughts and work style. This problem can arrive with special kids who generally do not feel like a part of the large community. As a parent or teacher, you should be involved in promoting mutual respect by teaching kids to say no, disagree with certain opinions, or decide which game doesn’t interest them. This way, the child learns to respectfully withdraw from negative situations that could lead to emotional damage. 

3. Promotes Independence

Being independent offers a good sense of self to any individual. Not being independent would further require parents, teachers, or other family members to step in and become advocates for the individual. Older students with good self-advocacy skills engage in decision-making and standing up for themselves which gives them a sense of independence and makes them more confident in adulthood.

How does self-advocacy begin?

Self-Advocacy is not a course that begins with levels or stages. It is rather a skill generally acquired and learned throughout different phases of life. Most individuals acquire these skills during childhood, and some skills can be learned at the developmental stage of adulthood. Through daily interactions, children are nurtured with Self-Advocacy skills that help them choose from a plethora of options and make practical decisions.

Self-Advocacy skills you already possess

1. Asking Questions

If you’re someone who always has different questions about people and situations, you’re already on the path of being a self-advocate. Children and adults who ask questions and learn to find the answer can develop better skills for self-advocating. Right from childhood to adulthood, you ask various questions in the emotional, business, or family framework. This indicates that your Self-Advocacy skills are present and can be polished further. 

2. Making Decisions

Individuals make various decisions about different life situations. A child often decides the color of their outfit or shoes. Similarly, an adult is equipped enough to decide on the transportation system to choose to reach the workplace. When you make choices for yourself and allow children to choose as per their wishes, you promote Self-Advocacy skills in both individuals. 

3. Communicating Emotions

Remember when you didn’t wish to perform a particular task and were able to convey this to the other person? Well, communication is an important aspect of honing your Self-Advocacy skills. People who can negotiate and make compromises through communication are generally aware of their emotions in situations. You acquire these skills right from childhood when you might have fought for a special TV show or did not do homework through persuasion.

Self-Advocacy examples

1. Meet Dyslexic Alan

Alan is an excellent student when it comes to learning through gaming and experiments. While Alan is at school, he is often engaged in playing with other kids or his teacher. He doesn’t appreciate offensive behaviour that makes him feel frustrated. When he faced a bad comment from someone at his school, he quickly reported the incident to his teacher.

Alan has the necessary Self-Advocacy skills as he acknowledges his emotion and sadness. We knew his need to receive an apology and assurance by reporting the same to his teacher.

2. Meet Ashley

Ashley is a young and smart girl who has just learned to order food at the restaurant. She often visits different food parlors and street-side vendors for desserts and her favorite french fries. She knows exactly what she wants to eat and how to choose the right food for her cravings. Once when she ordered French fries, she was served with a plate of Potato wedges.

In this situation, Ashley chose to speak to the waiter rather than compromising with almost a similar food dish. She addressed that she was served the wrong dish and asked to get it exchanged. Her problem-solving gesture skills show that she is equipped with Self-Advocacy skills.

3. Meet Dyscalculic Amber

Amber is dyscalculic and is trying hard to learn facts and figures about her situation. She respects her teachers and often engages herself in learning through online games. Amber faced a situation where her peers forced her to perform an arithmetic calculation. It not only lowered her confidence but made her feel embarrassed.

However, rather than putting herself down, she asked her peers not to pressure her on something she is still learning. Her art of saying No justifies that she has effective Self-Advocacy skills. 

4. Meet Nancy

Nancy works at a multinational company in the IT department. Her company follows strict rules and regulations for employees’ intellectual capabilities. Her colleague, John, is a special abled employee. John is great at work, but he is often discriminated against during office meetings and in the decision-making process.

Nancy addresses the issue to the management and decides to take a stand for John. This shows that Nancy emphasizes with others and is fearless in speaking for other people’s rights. Her Self-Advocacy skills are beneficial for the entire company and its culture. 

5. Meet Christopher

Christopher realized that he has certain problems with making friends at school or communicating his feelings. He has bad handwriting, and his hand would hurt whenever he started writing.

As he acknowledged the problem, he communicated the same to his teacher. Together, they found solutions to his problem, and that’s how Self-Advocacy skills helped him with academics. 

6. Meet Mark

Mark joined a reputed organization to boost their marketing initiatives. He had 10 years of experience in marketing on different digital and non-digital platforms. As Mark began working, he realized that he was not aware of the technical system and software used at the company.

Even though Mark was disappointed, he quickly approached the IT team and got information about the system. He acknowledged the need for support even after a good experience in the field, showing that Mark practices Self-Advocacy skills for betterment in life.

7. Meet Keith

Keith is a special education teacher and often works around children with Dyslexia. She is a humble teacher at the school and is often praised by parents. Keith performs well; however, she is suggested by the head not to interact too much with her parents. A piece of misleading advice could lead to wrong allegations against the school.

Keith accepts the advice and communicates her opinions for the same. She strongly points out that parents need support, and as teachers, they should feel no shame in doing so. This shows that Keith can make her decisions, think about others, and acceptably communicate her feelings.

8. Meet Jenny

Jenny is a special child who was recently discovered with Dyscalculic and Autism. She used to study at home, but her parents realized the need for a special education school. As Jenny started going to the school for special kids, she felt unheard by the teacher.

While the environment was new for Jenny, she spoke to her mother about the situation. She was strong enough to communicate her right to be heard. This displays that Jenny practices Self-Advocacy skills in her routine life.

9. Meet Tom

Tom is a smart and wise gentleman working in a reputable organization. He serves his family and takes good care of his parents. Lately, Tom wishes to shift his work location to a quieter place, even if it’s settling for a slightly lower remuneration.

Even though he fears rejection, he chooses to discuss the situation with his parents. He acknowledges his responsibility towards his own choices and is filled with reasonable Self-Advocacy skills.

10. Meet Louis

Louis is a 7th-grade student who generally finds confusion in numbers. He is often frustrated when he has to make choices from numerous options. Lately, he has been practicing different methods to overcome his problems. Once, he was asked to choose between two games based on completely different situations.

Tom carefully analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of being involved in challenging games. He took his time and announced the decision to his teacher. As a matter of fact, Tom has good Self-Advocacy skills because he was able to evaluate the pros and cons of a situation. He took time and decided the best for himself.

Strategies that can help develop this skill

1.    Students with learning disabilities can master Self-Advocacy skills through a cognitive approach, individual education programs, and self-awareness.

2.    Reading more about Self-Advocacy and learning through examples is good for honing these skills. One must read powerful quotes on Self-Advocacy that help them practice it confidently.

3.    Games and activities are best for teaching skills of Self-Advocacy. Games encourage kids and adults to think, act, make wiser decisions, and be responsible for every action.

4.    Putting students and adults in certain challenging situations helps them boost their decision-making skills while involving critical thinking.

5.    A Self-Advocacy checklist allows individuals to assess their skills and work on their developmental areas. It also helps trigger the answers that lead to more self-awareness and evaluation.


Self-Advocacy skills do not come in handy; rather, they should be practiced in most situations of life. Thanks to a plethora of training materials and information on the web, it makes the process easier for parents, adults, and teachers. It is important to understand that Self-Advocacy skills take time and should be implemented in practical situations instead of theoretical learning. Once you’ve acquired the necessary skills, follow them through unique examples and daily experiences.

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