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.
Just when I thought maybe the “autism thing” was calming down. And that maybe I had a few months to catch my breath before researching everything I needed to know about guardianship before my son turns 18. Wham–another big change brought us back to reality.
Support is out there for families of individuals with disabilities–you just have to ask! Take advantage of the community of others who are going through the same things as your family.