Self-awareness is generally the first step in self-advocacy. As you become an adult and seek independence, it is important to determine what is important to you. You can begin by determining what it is you need, speaking up for yourself and learning how to describe your needs and wants.
Know your rights. There are laws and regulations to provide guidance and clarification about what must be provided to you. A number of federal laws address accessibility and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. These laws cover access to a wide range of facilities and services, including housing, transportation, employment, telecommunications and voting. Knowing your rights under the laws, or complying with their requirements, means getting the right information from the proper source. Don’t be afraid to ask for help at navigating this process!
The Macks Center for Jewish Education, through the Maryland Special Needs Advocacy Program (MDSNAP) can help you with this. MDSNAP provides free educational advocacy services for Jewish children with special needs, from birth to age 21. In addition, MDSNAP:
- Listens to concerns and helps parents help their children
- Assists families to navigate the special education system
- Works with parents to prepare for IFSP and IEP meetings and will accompany them to these meetings
- Educates parents about their legal rights (does not provide legal counsel)
- Offers information, resources and referrals
- Maintains confidentiality at all times