Top self-advocacy tips for a person with Autism

 Autism authors Monica Holloway and Areva Martin see firsthand, as parents to teens on the spectrum, the benefits that self-advocacy can bring to people withautism. They offer the following tips for self-advocacy, inspired by their own personal experiences and resources offered by Autism Speaks and the Autism Society.

  1. Start early. Introduce self-advocacy in a positive and familiar way. Start with small decisions and limited exposure to encourage rewarding participation.
  2. Identify any obstacles. Help your child participate in the way that is most comfortable and feasible for him or her.
  3. Disclosure. Self-advocacy may involve disclosure of a diagnosis when ready.
  4. Instantaneous feedback. Give your child the satisfaction of seeing instant change for their input.
  5. Negotiate. Work with your team to make a plan that works for all involved.
  6. Explain and empower. When possible, help your child articulate or express him or herself about the decision in the ways that are the most feasible for your child.
  7. Finalize. Affirm input with praise.

Says Holloway, "We encourage all our families and professionals to work together to help create self-advocacy opportunities as our children with autism grow into adulthood."

Monica Holloway is the author of Cowboy & Wills, a Mother's Choice Award's Gold recipient, and the memoir Driving With Dead People. Holloway lives with her son and husband in Los Angeles.


Areva Martin is mother to a son with autism, a Harvard-trained attorney, author of The Everyday Advocate, on-air legal expert, nationally recognized children's rights advocate, co-founder and president of leading advocacy organization Special Needs Network, and managing partner of the Los Angeles-based law firm, Martin & Martin, LLP, where she practices special education, labor and employment, and disability discrimination law.