By Sarah Davidson
Advocacy is a crucial part of supporting one’s brothers/sisters through the health care and educational systems, social interactions, and everyday life. Working with your brothers/sisters on self-advocacy skills and practices can support them to find their voice while working with many complex systems. Self-advocates exercise their rights as citizens by representing themselves and others. Changing the system to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities is important and as a society, we have to evaluate if the people being supported are incorporated into the conversation. Policies put in place must include self-advocates to evaluate the practicality of the policies. For students, self-advocacy is a vital part of the educational system to ensure that they are receiving the accommodations they need and deserve.
Resources to support your brother/sister with self-advocacy skills:
Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (“SABE”):
SABE is a national organization working to ensure people with disabilities are treated as equals. SABE offers a Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center with a variety of activities that provide an opportunity for self-advocacy on many different platforms.
Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered has launched a self-advocacy start-up toolkit that includes activities focusing on “You Know Yourself Best!”, “Self Advocacy is…?”, and many other tool collections to help your brother/sister navigate self-advocacy. See these links for more details:
Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council (“MDDC”):
MDDC developed a Self-Advocacy Leadership Series. The series is training that provides education and training support to people with disabilities to work to improve their skills in leadership and self-advocacy. This program seeks to connect people with disabilities to self-advocacy networks. For more information, click https://www.mass.gov/service-details/learn-about-sals
Ways To Be a Self-Advocacy At Home:
Supporting your brother/sister can be as simple as encouraging them to make small choices at home. While it can be scary to speak up for one’s self, it is crucial to support your brother/sister at home to make it clear that they have a right to a voice and a choice.