Article: Becoming an Advocate for Your Needs
Advocating for Yourself
It can be difficult living with a disability that no one can see. You may feel like you are in an uphill battle advocating for yourself and educating those around you. It is important to articulate your needs and ask for help when needed.
10 Tips for Being a Strong Self-Advocate:
- Focus on your strengths, rather than your challenges
- Have a predictable routine each day
- Use tools to support memory challenges (visual/picture reminders, calendars, Apps and timers)
- Find mental health and medical providers that understand FASD
- Ask for help, and become a good self-advocate
- Avoid high-risk situations, “bad” influences, online relationships and loaning money
- Identify what works for you. Create a calming space in your home with sensory items you like, such as weighted blankets, fidgets or items with different textures
- Live a healthy lifestyle with balanced nutrition and exercise
- Become an expert on your disorder and how it impacts your daily life. FASD impacts everyone differently, so it is important that you understand your deficits (for example, memory, impulse control, etc.) so you can identify aspects of your life where additional support is needed. You can start by attending an FASD Training or attend “Let’s Talk about My FASD” which is an FASD training designed for young people or meeting with a Proof Alliance Direct Support team member
- Encourage those around you to use person-first language. Not only will this enhance awareness of those around you, but their communication will be more accepted within the greater disability community
Advocating for the Support Services You Need
You may be eligible to receive support through your county or state due to your disability. It can be a complicated process to obtain services, but there are people to help navigate the systems. If you need help figuring out how to apply for services, ask for help.
What types of services might be available? To learn more about the process of obtaining services below, click here to visit Disability Benefits 101.
- Housing support
- Employment support
- Case management
- Living Skills
- Mental health and medical support
What To Do When You Aren't Getting the Support You Need
When seeking services, you may be denied at first. There is a process in Minnesota to appeal (ask again) for the services you are seeking.
Advocacy isn’t always easy. If you’re in a situation where you need to assert yourself as an advocate, keep these things in mind:
- Be polite, but direct. Losing your temper only escalates the situation and discredits you as an advocate
- Prepare before meetings and offer solutions to the issue
- Ensure that people in your support network have your back and want the same outcomes you do
- Be specific when stating a concern and/or share examples
- Do your homework, learn about the process of the system
- Ask questions and be an active listener
- Identify the right people to voice your concern. Invest your time in decision-makers who can influence the situation