As parents of teens with learning disabilities (LD), we know the importance of advocating for our children and knowing their legal rights. We work to make sure that their needs are met by the school system. We have learned to speak up and research new laws. We know to ask the right questions. We are skilled in clearly sharing our kids’ needs with others. Now it’s our job to educate our children to do this for themselves.
By the age of 16, our teens are invited to take part in creating their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and 504 plan. This is a great way for teens to build self-advocacy skills. But they have to know what their needs are and how to share them. The following are three main advocacy skills that we must teach to all our kids–with and without disabilities:
We must teach our kids the tools they need for independence. And how to use them. Then and only then are we preparing them to advocate for themselves.
Once we know why segregation, oppression and unemployment occur, barriers can be removed and the quality of life for people living with disabilities will improve.