S2.07 - Self-Advocacy Instruction, Page 2

Step 3: Get facts on what it will take to make the change

Once you have made the decision to change something, you then need to look at all the sides of what you are changing. You need to gather information by talking to other people who have done something similar or to a person who has expertise in the area, study books and other resources that can give you helpful information, and contact different agencies in the area that might be able to help you with the change.

As you are gathering facts about the upcoming change in your life, keep organized notes and records so that you can refer back to them later on. These notes will be very useful later in the process of becoming a self-advocate.

Here is an example of how you should gather facts:

After thinking about your life, you have decided that you want a new job. You think that the job that would fit you best would be an office assistant. After making that decision, you need to gather information on what it takes to be an office assistant.

One of the best ways to find out what being an office is like is talk to someone who is an actual office assistant. Write down eight to ten questions that you would like to know the answer to and then set up a time when you can interview an office assistant. Some questions that you could use would be: what kind of work do you do as an office assistant? What kind of training or schooling did you have to become an office assistant? How did you find a job as an office assistant? As the person you are interviewing answers these questions, make sure to write down their answers so that after the interview is over you can go back and reread the answers. By rereading the answers, you can make an informed decision about whether this the right job for you.

Step 4: Weigh the pros and cons of each side of the change

Once you have gathered all the information on the change, you have to analyze whether the change is worth the effort and sacrifice it will take to make the change. Here are some steps to follow that can help you analyze the pros and cons:

Step 5: Gather support from people who can help you make the change

Since making a change in your life is a time consuming and difficult process, it is important that you have support from friends, family members, or other people in your life that care about you. These people will be able to guide you through times when you are stuck in the process of change and need a little boost in the right direction.

When you are picking people to be in your support group, remember that support people need to be able to listen to your concerns, give you feedback, and help to champion your desire to be a self-advocate.

Step 6: Being assertive without being aggressive while making a change

Once you have decided to make a change in your life, gathered the facts about the change, weighed the pros and cons, and generated a support group, you are ready to make the change. During the change you need to remember to be calm but assertive. If you become too aggressive, you may not accomplish that very thing that you want to change. Staying calm allows you to carefully work through the change and allows others to guide you when you are stuck. Keeping your composure also allows you to be a more effective communicator about what you want for your life.

Step 7: Set up timelines for making changes

It is often helpful to set a time limit on how long you can take to make the change. If, for example, you want a new job as an office assistant, it is best to limit how long you will search for a job in that field. If the time limit is up and you still do not have a job in the as an office assistant, you should expand your search to include other areas or change what kind of job you want.

Another thing to keep in mind while making a change in your life is that you must be patient yet persistent. Change takes time. Sometimes it takes years to accomplish a simple change. Do not let the trials that occur while making the change deter you from continuing with it.


Page updated 10/31/06

End of basic content. Credits, navigation links and, where relevant, reference citations follow.

All instructional content © Copyright 2006 by Michael L. Wehmeyer, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.
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Web Resources

Advocacy Center For Persons with Disabilities. Self-Advocacy: Ten Steps to Being an Effective Self-Advocate. Retrieved July 16, 2004, from http://www.advocacycenter.org/programs/selfadvoc.html

National Mental Health Information Center: Center for Mental Health Services. Speaking Out for Yourself- A self-Help Guide: Steps to Being an Effective Self-Advocate. Retrieved July 16, 2004, from http://www.mentalhealth.org/publications/allpubs/SMA-3719/stepstobeing.asp

Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut, Inc. How to be Your Own Advocate: A Guide to Self-Advocacy. Retrieved July 16, 2004, from www.slsct.org/guide_to_self_advocacy.pdf


Van Reusen, A. K., Bos, C. S., Schumaker, J. B., & Deshler, D. D. (1994). A
motivation strategy: The self-advocacy strategy for education & transition planning: Preparing students to advocate at education and transition conferences. Lawrence, KS: Edge Enterprises, Inc.

Wehmeyer, M. L., Agran, M., Hughes, C. (1998). Teaching Self-Determination to Students with Disabilities. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brooks Publishing Co.

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