Teaching Self-Advocacy


Teachers, Parents, and Community Members

Let’s make self-advocacy a transition priority!

Self-advocacy skills support youth with ALL of their life goals:

  • employment 
  • recreation and hobbies 
  • financial
  • social and community life
  • where to live. 


What can you do?

Teaching and learning self-advocacy takes all of us a lifetime! So, when working with youth with disabilities, it is important not to view their journey as short-term or worse, a one-and-done lesson. We can all play a role. 

Take a look at the following suggestions, and add to the lists for you and your youth!




  • involve youth in household decisions and explain how you make choices regarding money, groceries, chores, entertainment, etc. 
  • involve youth in the household responsibilities (encourage age-appropriate chores and responsibilities)
  • be ok with youth making decisions and being wrong– that’s how we all earn! 
  • help identify ways to solve their problem without doing it for them
  • encourage and support youth to engage in activities without you– facilitate independence
  • work with youth on making educational decisions, such as what classes to take 
  • teach youth how to talk with general education teachers about their learning needs
  • teach youth what is in their IEP and why they have one. Discuss what parts of the IEP meetings they can lead
  • encourage extra-curricular activities– this is important for developing new skills and social networks (which supports interviewing and workplace habits)
  • incorporate self-advocacy and self-determination skills in other activities whenever possible
  • identify areas for practice, such as asking questions, taking initiative, and learning how to make decisions
  • teach youth how to research what interests them and discuss the information they have found
  • teach youth how to analyze information for informed choice
  • share your methods and goals with other team members so youth are supported through their collective network

Check out the following resources:

Instruction in Self-Advocacy. 

Resources and information provided by the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition

The 411 on Disability Disclosure is a free resource for youth with disabilities

This resource guides youth in discussing and understanding the components of disclosure, their rights and responsibilities under the law, postsecondary disclosure, disclosure on the job, and disclosure in social and community settings. Created by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth). 

Understanding the differences between disability services in high school and college. 

This comparison chart describes the options, opportunities, and responsibilities of youth, parents, and the education provider in each. Youth need to develop their self-advocacy skills BEFORE college!

Technology Resources for Post-secondary Education.

Understanding how assistive technology (AT) can support youth in meeting their educational needs is critical for their ability for self-expression and to fulfill their potential. This resource describes many options for AT specifically for a variety of learning needs and diagnoses. 

Disability Justice and Youth.

The more a youth understands about disability history, advocacy, and justice, the more information they have to support their own life journey. This YOUTH CELEBRATE DIVERSITY resource provides discussion questions, resources, and considerations and youth discover what disability means to them. 

Montana is fortunate to have a fun, interactive, and amazing opportunity for youth with disabilities. Youth can apply to attend MYLIFE (pronounced “my life”) and experience a week-long, unique leadership and career training program at NO COST.

  • Identify personal leadership skills
  • Practice self-advocacy and self-determination skills
  • Learn about community and state resources for employment, assistive technology, independent living, and community engagement
  • Develop lifelong peer networks.


Visit montanaylf.org for more information!