Teaching Kids with Special Needs to Self-Advocate

As our kids with special needs approach adulthood, they need to learn to self-advocate. This post offers ideas about how to start the process.

Those of you with young children – infants, toddlers, preschoolers – may think today’s post doesn’t apply to you. The teen years and college seem far, far away. But if you ask any parent of a teen or college-aged child with special needs what they wish they’d done differently while raising their kids, their response is likely to be this: “I wish we’d starting preparing our child for adulthood sooner.”

 Self-Advocacy Is Key to Success in College

Since I’ve heard that response often, my little ears pricked up when I read the headline For Students with Special Needs, Self-Advocacy is Key for Success in College in a google alert. And when I read the article? Well, if I was a dog, my tail would have been wagging as I read the sound advice it offered.

Sound Advice from Robert Bernstein

The advice offered by Robert Bernstein, Dobbs Ferry, New York couselor and consultant for children and teenagers with Asperger’s Syndrome, jibed with the research I did while writing Different Dream Parenting. Two tidbits resonated especially strongly:

  • His advice to address the transition from school to adulthood in IEPs starting when students are 15.
  • His practice of teaching high school teens to self-advocate in college by role-playing scenarios with professors.

But, don’t take my word for it. Read the entire article here.

Your Turn

Parents of adult children with special needs, leave a comment about how you prepared them to self-advocate.
Parents of teens, leave a comment about what you’re doing to prepare your kids.
Parents of younger children, leave a comment about other issues for older kids you’d like to see addressed at this site.

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2 Comments

  1. Kathy Guzzo Kathy Guzzo
    December 15, 2011    

    Previous to our chronically ill child entered college over 100 miles away, I made sure she was part of any conversations I had regarding her special needs at the college as well as with her doctors. We kept journals of all doctors names, numbers, appointments and comments made so that she had all the information she needed at her fingertips when necessary.

  2. Kathy Guzzo Kathy Guzzo
    December 15, 2011    

    Previous to our chronically ill child entered college over 100 miles away, I made sure she was part of any conversations I had regarding her special needs at the college as well as with her doctors. We kept journals of all doctors names, numbers, appointments and comments made so that she had all the information she needed at her fingertips when necessary.

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Meet Jolene

Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.

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