Here are some tips on being a good self-advocate:
Think about what you want to change. Before you take a stand, know what you want to happen. Do you want to be treated differently? Do you want something to be done differently?
Speak clearly and slowly. Start by saying something like, “I would like to talk with you about…” and then calmly describe how you see the situation.
Let the other person speak. Being a self-advocate doesn’t mean that you are the only one talking – the other person/organization needs a chance to respond to what you are saying.
Don’t expect immediate results. Change is not always instant – sometimes it takes many conversations, letters, etc. You may need to remind the person/organization more than once.
Understand your disability. In many school and job situations, you may need to take the responsibility for explaining to others your exact needs. Practice speaking openly about your needs and strengths with your family and friends. This will make it easier in new situations and with people who don’t know you.
Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM)
The Jewish Federations of North America is involved with Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), held annually in February. The mission of this month is to unite Jewish communities and organizations to raise awareness of the needs, strengths, opportunities and challenges of individuals with disabilities and their families as well as to support meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities and their families in every aspect of Jewish life.
Check with your local Jewish Federation for a calendar of events.
Additional community resources:
The Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities Inc. is a nonprofit organization providing protection and advocacy services in the State of Florida. The Center’s mission is to advance the dignity, equality, self-determination and expressed choices of individuals with disabilities.
In Palm Beach County, there is a separate confidential and free of charge 211 HelpLine, designed specifically for special needs, which supports to the families by providing answers and referring to resources. There, you can also find information about support groups, upcoming events, et cetera.