This paper discusses self-advocacy as a survival tool for “normal” children and, especially, “special needs” children.

This paper explains that self-advocacy is the state of knowing what one wants, what one is entitled to, and how one can effectively craft a path that will lead one to accomplish one’s own goals within the limitations of those entitlements. The author points out that the key to determining how well a student is serving as an advocate for himself or herself is first to understand the key dimensions that make up a person’s ability to speak up for himself or herself and then to determine how to measure progress along each one of these vectors. The paper recommends that students who are learning to be an active part of the educational process and to serve as their own advocates should be able to demonstrate an increasing level of skill in areas such as communicating with others, identifying needed accommodations and supports, and expressing hopes and wants. Long quotes.

Table of Contents
Literature Review
Importance and Limitations of IEPs
Parents as Advocates
Unity in the Face of a Common Enemy
Operationalizing Self-Advocacy
And a Child Shall Lead
“This is one of the key issues that must be addressed: How does one serve as the most effective advocate for oneself without infringing the rights of others? This is one of the most difficult tasks that those working with special needs children and especially teachers face. School districts are designed (both in terms of culture as well as in terms of their ability to serve children with a range of abilities on a limited budget) to force parents to become aggressive to secure rights for their children. And once they become so aggressive, they are unable to find their footing on the very narrow line between advocacy and belligerence.”