Your #1 Advocate is YOU!

The Conversation Corner, By Brook Fieldman

Part 7 of 8 – There will be 2 blogs each week in this series with a night of in-person recap at the end of the month.

Communication Surrounding Self-Advocacy

We’ve previously discussed that without communication, individuals would be unable to express their thoughts, opinions, and emotions freely. Here, we will be diving into self-advocacy, which lies at the core of communication. Self-advocacy can be defined as a journey towards speaking up for one’s needs and asserting one’s rights. Although individuals with Down syndrome may face communication challenges, these challenges shouldn’t be a barrier to self-advocacy. 

Many strategies can be used to increase self-advocacy, one of those being education. It’s important to make individuals with Down syndrome aware of their rights and provide them with the necessary resources to enhance and support their communication skills. Engagement in activities such as speech therapy, social skills training, and learning how to use other modes of communication (e.g., sign language and alternative and augmentative communication) is important for giving individuals a voice to assert their needs. Communication extends beyond words, so it’s key to teach individuals that facial expressions and body language can be just as effective at conveying a message. Outlining different forms of self-expression is the first step you can take towards advocating for oneself. Another useful strategy for increasing self-advocacy is promoting independence. Family members, caregivers, and friends play a powerful role in nurturing self-advocacy. This can be achieved through encouraging self-expression from a young age and supplying guidance and understanding. A supportive environment aids in building the confidence needed for advocacy. 

Every person regardless of their ability deserves to be heard. I hope you can foster a supportive, communicative environment that gives individuals a voice to advocate for themselves.

Thank you for reading.

Submitted by, Brook Fieldman, Augustana Intern

  • Augustana College Class of 2024
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders Major
  • Disability and Asian Studies Minors

Handouts from this blog series can be seen here as they become available.

Join us for a recap night! Family Speaker: Communication & Expectations Monday, April 29th at 5:30

Register using this link.

Confident U – Healthy U – Whole U

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