Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back to School Guest Blogger

It’s Up to You to Advocate for You    

Written by: Daniella Florin Tuerack, M.S. Ed, founder of Insightful Families is a certified school psychologist who has had formal instruction in Applied Behavior Analysis and special education regulations. Daniella works with students and families assisting them in accomplishing their goals, providing them with guidance and resources.  For more information about Daniella and Insightful Families, please visit

Individuals who know how to self-advocate for their educational and emotional needs have an important skill that supports success throughout all aspects of their life.  This skill could be difficult to obtain when someone has advocated for them, but have not been provided the opportunity to advocate for themselves.  Most students are not actually taught how to understand their needs and communicate them to others. 
Students whom have disabilities and/or learning disabilities often have special needs educationally.  As time progresses, these students transition into college and later into the workforce, where the assistance of their parents, teachers, and other individuals are not as readily available.  As an adult, people need to make sure their rights are being respected and that the necessary accommodations are available. 
Whether it is in school or at a workplace, being an advocate for yourself consists of understanding your rights, your strengths and weaknesses, and the best way to ensure your needs are being met.  Following are various ways individuals could acquire the skills to advocate for themselves.  These tips are beneficial throughout all settings, such as: school, work, and socially. 
  • Be aware of what your diagnosis and/or learning disability is and gain knowledge of the description and characteristics.
  • If you need specific support and services, you must disclose your learning disability to others who can help you.
  • Always have current and proper documentation of your disability.
  • Research and/or ask individuals about your rights as a student.
  • Know your rights. You have a right to participate in educational programs without discrimination and to receive accommodations in courses and exams.
  • Understand your needs as a student (i.e, amount of time needed to write a paper, flash cards to memorize content).
  • Learn how to communicate with professors, university staff, and other students.
  • Meet with your advisors to talk about what you want to learn and discuss what challenges you may encounter.
  • Know what your educational requirements are in order to succeed.
  • Review time management and organization skills in order to complete tasks.
  • Correspond with family members to get assistance when necessary while still independently advocating for yourself.

Everyone learns differently and requires particular support in order to succeed both academically and professionally.  For students and individuals who need more guidance, following these steps could be greatly beneficial.  Knowledge truly is what will give someone with a disability the power to thrive.  Self-advocacy begins with having the proper information and self-esteem to use that information to your advantage.  The strongest self-advocates are those who are have awareness and are confident. 

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