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

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.

I’m Thinking College (Even with my Disability) Video
Students with intellectual disabilities enrolled in a postsecondary education program in Tennessee talk about their experiences at college and highlight the need for more such programs.

Making the Move to Managing Your Own Personal Assistance Services (PAS): A Toolkit for Youth with Disabilities Transitioning to Adulthood
For transition-age youth with disabilities, issues surrounding managing Personal Assistance Services (PAS) can be intensified by normal developmental concerns such as striking out on your own and navigating the road into adulthood. This new guide assists youth in strengthening some of the most fundamental skills essential for successfully managing their own PAS: effective communication, time-management, working with others, and establishing professional relationships.   This toolkit is available in PDf or Microsoft Word at

The 411 on Disability Disclosure: A Workbook for Youth with Disabilities
This workbook helps young people make informed decisions about whether or not to disclose their disability and understand how that decision may impact their education, employment, and social lives. The workbook does not tell a young person what to do. Rather, it helps them make informed decisions about disclosing their disability, decisions that will affect their educational, employment, and social lives.

Youth Leadership Training

April 29 @ 9:00 am – 2:00 pm CDT
Bryan, TX
Youth Leadership -Superhero Training

The in-person, on-site training is Part One of a three part Leadership Training for youth with disabilities ages 14 to 26.  The focus of Part One is Effective Communication Skills for Self-Advocacy. Through interactive, hands-on, fun activities, we will explore the skills needed for youth to “Stand-up, Speak-up, and Step-out”. Learn more, including how to register for this FREE event, at

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Youth Fact Sheets

Tips for Parents

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

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