Self advocacy is the action of representing oneself or one’s views or interests. This includes: learning how to speak up for yourself, make your own decisions, pursue your interests, find the people who will support you, know your rights and responsibilities, problem-solve, listen to others, and express agreement and disagreement in a calm manner.
Self advocacy helps you to:
- Obtain what you need
- Make your own choices
- Learn to say no without feeling guilty
- Express disagreements respectfully
How to be a self-advocate
Believe in Yourself
The first step of self advocacy is believing in yourself. That also means believing in your strengths. Know that your worthy and that you are willing to do whatever it takes to care for yourself. Many people with disabilities struggle with self-esteem and motivation. You have to find out what makes you happy, learn something you enjoy and be good at it.
It is often hard for people with disabilities to ask for what they want when they are treated poorly; I know from experience. This makes it difficult to practice self advocacy.
It is time to invest in yourself and your self-worth. Make it a point to believe in yourself daily: whether it’s looking in the mirror and saying “I’m a terrific, a great person,” or writing a post it on the wall to remind yourself how good you are, or a reflection letter with all of your strengths and obstacles you have overcome.
Assess: On a scale of 1 to 10 rate how you are feeling that day. If it’s a zero, then find a way to make yourself feel better; if it’s a ten, then keep doing what makes you happy. When you can’t decide, give yourself a 5 and remind yourself: “what can I do to make things better?”
Appreciate: Give yourself credit when credit is due. It’s hard to believe in yourself and give yourself credit because you feel you can do better or feel as if you not doing your best. We can be our own worst enemies. Practice forgiving yourself when you’re sad or hurt.
Give yourself credit for everything you do that is great, even if it’s small, like getting out of bed when you are depressed.
Maverick Crawford was selected out of 1500 students as the Most Outstanding Undergraduate Student in the College of Public Policy at UTSA. He graduated from UTSA as Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Public Administration and a Minor in Civic Engagement. Maverick has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and is one of our most popular bloggers as he shares his experiences with our Aspergers101 audience.