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.

10 Self-Advocacy Tips for Young People with Disabilities

Here are 10 tips for self-advocacy for young people with disabilities, by young people with disabilities.


New Resources

How to Get the Most Out of Your IEP

A special greeting from the Midwest. My name is Tyler Feist; I am 14 years old and live in rural North Dakota. I am a freshman at Edgeley High School. … I’m writing today about how to get the most out of your IEP as a youth.

Read Tyler’s story >


How to Figure Out a Goal

A goal is a plan for the future. Group goals are about changing something in your community or organization [changing something that affects a whole group of people]. They need to be decided on by a group of people who want to work together. This tip sheet is about how to figure out group goals.

Learn more >


Tips for Facilitation – How It’s Done

Facilitation is about helping people express themselves and helping a group hear each other. It is also about moving a group through a process –like an agenda or training– so they can make decisions and get things done. For example, you could facilitate your Individual Education Plan [IEP] meeting at school. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Learn more >


Leading Your Transition Planning

Do you have your own ideas of what you want your future to look like?  Do you want to have a say in what your future will be like?  If so, you can make it happen by participating in your transition planning!

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Driving with Adaptations

When you have a physical disability, driving a car may seem like an unreachable goal. Though it may not be possible to accommodate every type of disability, there are several adaptations that can make driving a reality. If driving seems like a responsibility you are ready to take on, there are several steps you can take to find accommodations fit for your needs.

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Building Your Interview Skills

Making a good impression during a job interview doesn’t only include how you answer questions.  Here are some other ways to shine during the job interview process.

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Taking Charge of Your Money

Do you know how to be smart with your money? In other words, are you financially capable? This brief will help you learn some of the basics of earning, saving and investing, spending, borrowing, and protecting your money.

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Youth Leadership Training

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Youth Fact Sheets


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.
Read full article >


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.