There are many places and situations where you may want to exert self-advocacy. You may want to self-advocate when speaking with doctors and health care professionals, in hospitals, at schools, with government bodies, and in the community.
Some people can find self-advocacy intimidating, as it means standing up for yourself with others. However, self-advocacy is important to ensure that your needs, goals and aspirations are being heard.
If you are unsure about how to self-advocate and prepare for situations where you want your needs met, the following tips may be helpful:
- Be an active participant in the process, to the best of your ability
- Get enough information to make informed choices
- Have some ideas about what you would like to get out of the process, or what you would like the healthcare professionals to help with
- Clearly express what your needs are
- Set realistic goals for what you hope to achieve
- If necessary, have an advocate, family member, or friend at meetings
- If your request is not responded to in a timely manner, ask to speak to a more senior person
- Consider writing a letter or email, containing any concerns you have, if you feel that you are not being listened to during meetings
- Keep a folder of all materials, plans, and correspondence so that you can refer to these in the future
- Take notes when you attend meetings and document all phone calls
- Ensure that any agreed upon plan is put in writing.
In addition to self-advocating there are a number of services that can respond to issues related to human rights (your dignity and value), services and disability issues.