Youth Leadership

What is a Self-Advocate?

A self-advocate is someone who speaks up for his or her self. Self-advocates ask for what they need and want, and try to have as much of a say as possible in making their own life decisions.

Why Should I Become a Self-Advocate?

Until now, adults have made most of the decisions about your life for you. However, now that you are becoming an adult yourself, you should have a say in what you do, in what you want, and in where you are going. Being able to make your own decisions is important because it allows you to:

  • Live as independently as possible
  • Do the things you like
  • Pursue goals after high school
  • Get a job in the career field you want
  • Have healthy relationships
  • Control your own body and health
  • Manage your own money
  • Get the services and supports you need

Being a self-advocate is especially important if you have a disability, because you need to:

  • Understand your rights in different education settings and the workplace
  • Know how and when to ask for accommodations to do your best
  • Know how to navigate the community and access the services and supports you need
  • Advocate for friends and family members who also have disabilities

Adapted from Youth in Action! Becoming a Stronger Self-Advocate, National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability.

New Resources

Advocating for Yourself: How To Get What You Need

You should always be able to have the accommodations you need in school for your disability or health care needs. Sometimes it just takes some extra effort to get what you need.
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Health Care Transition FAQs

Preparing for health care transition often receives less attention than preparing for other transitions in school, work, relationships, and independent living. This set of Frequently Asked Questions with answers provided by experienced youth, young adults, and parents will help you learn everything you need to know about your health care transition.
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Get the Job … Keep the Job!


This unique open-captioned video is by youth with disabilities and for youth with — and without — disabilities. It is an overview of the right and wrong ways to apply for a job and give an interview; as well as how to request reasonable accommodations, and how to KEEP your job!


How to do a Job Search

Whether your transition to your first job takes place during high school, after high school, for the summer, or during or after college, finding a good job may not be that simple and easy. It takes a lot of planning and organizing to get the job you want.  This webpage from Kids as Self Advocates (KASA) will give you ideas on how to get a job, where to go to find a job, and how to use the internet to help you.
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By Youth for Youth: Employment

By Youth, for Youth: Employment was written by youth for youth who want to know more about finding and keeping the right job.
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Group of graduates

Differences Between High School and College

Understanding the difference between the high school experience and college experience, especially regarding the laws, is key to a smooth transition. In K-12 education, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) outlines how educational supports are provided. In postsecondary education, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 form the legal foundation for protections to individuals with disabilities. This distinction forms the basis for the legal and procedural differences that every college student and their parents need to understand.
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Find a College That’s Right for You!

Find and compare information on 264 college programs for students with intellectual disabilities! Search by program name, location, and other keywords.
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Tips for Surviving Your Freshman Year of College

One of the first things I figured out after I graduated from high school and went to college was that college has a lot more responsibilities and work than high school. In college, you are on your own to find the help you need, even if you do not know what that need is yet.  The following is a tip sheet to assist you in your quest for higher education.
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Youth Transition Toolkit

You now get to make choices you’ve never had to make before – choices on things like health care, education, employment, finances, independent living, and even new social and recreational choices. These new choices come with new ways of doing things. This toolkit will help you and your family make plans that will help you become the successful adult you have the potential to be. It offers you tips and work sheets to help you learn how to take a more active role in your own life decisions.
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Youth Leadership Training

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Tips for Parents

Balancing School and a New Job
Working can be an exciting and confidence-boosting experience for teens.  It can be particularly hard for teens with organizational issues to juggle work and school and stay focused. Here’s what you can do to help your teen strike the right balance.
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Video – Tips From Experienced Parents
Experienced parents of adults with disabilities share their wisdom on (1) What are the biggest differences between having a child with a disability and having an adult with a disability? (2) How did you successfully navigate your child’s transition to adulthood? (3) What are the most helpful tips you would give parents of individuals with disabilities?


Video – College for Kids With Learning Disabilities | Real Parents, Tough Topics
Are you hoping your child with learning and attention issues, such as dyslexia or ADHD, will go to college? What other options are there? Can your child find success without college?  Check out this video from Understood.org:


Video – What Parents Did Right: Understood and Harvey Hubbell on College Students With Learning Disabilities
Students at Landmark College have a variety of learning disabilities, including dyslexia, ADHD, nonverbal LDs and more. In this video, created as a partnership between Understood and filmmaker Harvey Hubbell, these students share tips and tricks about what their parents did right to get them on the college path. Then learn more about how you can help future college students with learning disabilities at understood.org.