How to be a Successful Self-Advocate
Self-advocacy is a hot topic in education right now. Self-advocacy consists of being empowered to speak and communicate effectively about one’s needs and being able to achieve one’s desired outcome.
The term, “self-advocacy”, has long been associated with students who receive special education services, especially those with a cognitive impairment. Yet being able to represent and assert oneself is an invaluable skill for all human beings despite the fact that little attention is paid to it in most classrooms. Teaching individuals the skills required to successfully speak up for themselves should not be done solely within the domain of special education, as people of all ages and abilities benefit from possessing these skills.
An essential part of being able to survive and thrive in our demanding world is being able to represent oneself and one’s interests with efficacy and poise. People who can and do speak up for themselves in a confident and cogent manner generally have better outcomes and greater opportunities for success. We can all benefit from increasing our self-advocacy skills; here are some ways in which to do so:
Know your Goals and Know your Rights: Effective self-advocacy happens when you know what you want as well as what you are legally entitled to. Self-awareness is critical to understanding what you want and need out of a given situation. Getting in touch with yourself and developing goals that are specific and attainable are critical first steps towards successfully advocating for yourself. Do your research so that you know what legal rights you have in the context of the situation. When advocating for yourself, presenting a knowledgeable and reasoned argument will always give you a better chance to fulfill your desired goal(s).
Believe in your “Voice” or Message: Many individuals who successfully advocate for themselves in many areas of their lives are those who are confident in their goals and believe that their voice or their message has inherent value. We are scared to speak up for ourselves when we lack confidence in ourselves and in our desired outcomes. Believe in yourself! People will be able to see your confidence or lack thereof, so even if you have to, fake it until it becomes real!
Practice, practice: The old adage that “practice makes perfect” is true in this instance! (Read more about how “over-practicing” essential skills can increase overall mental efficiency here: http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/20/dont-just-practice-over-practice/)
Practice speaking up for yourself in front of a mirror, with parents, siblings, and family that you feel comfortable with, record yourself on video and play it back for feedback, and lastly, contact a tutor or coach who can help you develop positive and effective communication strategies.
Self-advocacy skills are critical for teenagers and adults who want to be successful and realize their goals effectively. Know what you want, practice good communication skills, do your research, and deliver your message with confidence! Sometimes these skills come naturally; sometimes people need concrete experiences to learn these skills. People who know how to assert their needs effectively also know when to seek help from a professional teacher or coach. Practicing effective self-advocacy is an art and a skill, and when mastered, anyone can achieve their desired outcomes.
Having Alex as a tutor was amazing. She is patient, understanding and very supportive in many ways. Alex not only helped our son with his writing and vocabulary, she helped him organize his thoughts and strengthen his study skills. I highly recommend Alex as a tutor.
She is patient, understanding and very supportive in many ways. Alex not only helped our son with his writing and vocabulary, she helped him organize his thoughts and strengthen his study skills. I highly recommend Alex as a tutor.
When there are so many great things that can be said about a person, it is hard to find the right words that truly satisfy that person’s character. I first began working with Alex when I was a freshman in high school. Not having success with previous tutors, I concluded that tutors simply are not for me. However, Alex showed me otherwise; her personalized teaching style, depth of knowledge, attentive manner, and even sense of humor is above any tutor I’ve ever encountered. Beyond the skills that make Alex an effective yet enjoyable tutor, she also provides insight and guidance to those who are struggling in certain areas of their life. I have sought Alex’s help with challenges both big and small, and she always steers me in the right direction while teaching me important life skills in the process. As I am now approaching my senior year, I am overwhelmed with feelings of confidence and excitement because I know that I will have Alex by my side.
I hired Alex to help me obtain a private school placement at the district’s expense for my 3rd grader, who is nonverbal and autistic. After hiring an ineffective attorney for the same purpose when my son was in first grade, Alex was able to accomplish this goal and got my son a placement in a specialized, private school program. While this endeavor took months of work, meetings, emails, and school visits to accomplish, my son is now in an appropriate program where he is able to learn and thrive. Additionally, Alex was able to get the school district to provide every single service, accommodation, and technology that I was requesting for my son. Alex is assertive, articulate, and knows the law and best educational practices. As such, she effectively and vociferously advocated on my son’s behalf and accomplished all of my goals. I highly recommend her to anyone in need of an advocate!
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I must admit that I was absolutely fortunate when I stumbled upon Alex’s website during my internet search a year and a half ago. I was desperately looking for someone to proof read my papers and assist in guiding me throughout the pursuit of my doctorate degree. With the guidance, support, and constructive criticism from this very knowledgeable, insightful, and patient individual I received As in all my courses. I truly enjoyed working with Alex.
Alex is very well-versed and knowledgeable about many subjects. I have not been in school in over 20 years and now I am back to obtain my doctorate degree. Alex has helped me get organized and has assisted me with my APA citations, grammar, and word choice. My writing skills have improved significantly and every one of my papers has received an A. Alex has provided me with the skills I need to continue my studies. I am so lucky to have met Alex.
Amanda: I am a student of Alex’s. I would recommend Alex to other students because she pushes you, gives you confidence, and she has a great sense of humor. She turns around any of your negative feelings into positive ones so you can believe in yourself to succeed.
Doretta: I am Amanda’s mom. Alex has a tremendous amount of patience. She is creative, funny, and very knowledgeable of her material. Alex tutored my daughter to obtain a driving permit. This was a major challenge for Amanda. Aside from needing help to learn the material, Amanda also has severe test anxiety. Amanda also has had many many tutors throughout her life. Alex not only helped Amanda learn the material and prepare for the test, but also made her believe in herself and decreased her anxiety. She is truly an awesome teacher and person. I highly recommend her to any struggling student.
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My daughter struggled with writing her college application essay. We were fortunate to meet Alex who not only helped our daughter select the appropriate subject matter and prepare a well-written essay, but minimized the stress and drama that comes with this process. Alex has great writing skills and she is very creative and extremely knowledgable about the admissions process. Alex is a pleasure to work with.
Alex helped me with my personal statements for graduate school. It was helpful to brainstorm ahead of time because it made our sessions more productive. However, we brainstormed more throughout our sessions. She made me feel confident in my writing and the writing process less stressful. She took notes as we talked and cares about making a connection with her students. I definitely recommend her assistance! It was such a pleasure to work with her and I will be sure to keep in contact with her for future assignments!
Alex has worked with my son for three months and the improvement we have seen has been tremendous. My son went from failing in math to exceeding his peers in class. He enjoys his sessions with Alex and as a matter of fact, looks forward to her coming to tutor him, he refers to it as “so much fun and interesting”. Alex provided our son with the necessary strategies to apply to solve math problems and we can see him applying those strategies in his homework assignments. Our son went from 60’s and 70’s to 95 in scores for his math tests. We are incredibly lucky and grateful to have found Alex. She has done wonders for our son and has been able to teach him in a manner where he understands and retains the information. She has far exceeded our expectations in so little time.
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Alex worked with me very diligently and helped me with several college supplemental essays. Alex knew exactly what college admissions officers were looking for which helped me include critical information in my essays. Also, I was able to engage in conversation with Alex about how to go about revising my essays. She approaches the essay sentence by sentence and makes sure that the essential question: “so what?” is always answered within the writing. I recommend Alex as a tutor for anyone in need of help for any piece of writing.
I hired Alex as a tutor and an advocate to help me prepare and receive accommodations for an NASM personal training exam. Alex was critical in helping me successfully study and prepare for the test by teaching me effective study skills and test-taking strategies. Alex was able to get NASM to provide me the full extent of accommodations that I was legally entitled to. She also made sure that the reader for my test was competent and prepared by personally escorting me to the testing center to make sure that they were following the appropriate procedures. I am extremely thankful to Alex for her dedication to my success and for helping me pass the exam.
Alex is well prepared and detail-oriented and works hard during the sessions to make sure my son understands what she is working on with him.
My adult brother has been working with Alex for the past few months. She is amazing! I have never known someone in this profession to be so patient, insightful and so good at breaking down challenges into pieces of a puzzle in order to find the best possible solution.
Alex was able to help me improve my study and test-taking skills and I’m so glad I hired her! I am a nursing student in a competitive program and I felt lost given the vast amount of material that I had to study. Alex helped me use recall strategies like mnemonics to remember difficult terminology for exams. She was also helpful in teaching me metacognitive strategies for focus and self-monitoring during testing. I am especially grateful to Alex for helping me navigate through the difficult “red tape” of my program. She taught me effective self-advocacy techniques so that I was able to attain the outcome I was seeking by being assertive about my rights. I am now much more confident about going into my next semester of school and feel like I have the necessary skills to succeed.