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Build her self-advocacy skills


Sometimes your young person will need a few different things to make things, places and activities suit them better.


The more she know what helps her, the easier it will be to achieve the exciting things she dreams about doing.

Getting more confident about expressing her needs (self-advocacy) will help her relationships stay safe and healthy too.

How you can help

  • Provide as many inclusive adjustments within the environments she is in regularly, to allow her to understand herself better. She can't advocate for her needs without knowing what they are and making informed choices about the options that are available. This will also reinforce the fact that her needs are not a burden.

  • ​​Reflect back when she’s doing something nice for herself that feels good so she hears it in a concrete way and then it’s easier to remember what helps in the future. Eg: “It looks like that weighted blanket is making your body feel really comfy.” 

  • Validate any need she expresses even if no major adjustments can be made at that time. For example: "That noise is obviously really distressing for you. I'm sorry I can’t make it stop immediately. Would it help if I covered your ears for you?" This is a very different approach to: "It’s not that bad. We can’t control other people. Just block it out." 

  • Make sure she knows that she’s not being ‘difficult’, and that she’s allowed to inconvenience others. If she’s expressing what she needs to feel ok in a healthy way, that’s a really good thing. ​Reinforce the idea that people don't need to agree with or understand her boundaries in order to respect them. 

  • ​Role-model articulating your own needs in a healthy way when you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. This signals to your young person that they are safe to do that too, and shows some ways they can do it. Express the choices you are making about what helps you. For example, you may need to regulate yourself while your young person is having a meltdown by being mindful of your own body, breathing techniques and grounding yourself. These are all ways of showing them how important it is to respect your own needs in a healthy way.

  • When she expresses her needs to you, check that you've understand exactly what she means. This shows you value and respect what she's telling you. It also models that she can also ask for clarity in conversations with others. 


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