Self Advocacy—is knowing what you want, knowing what you do well and what you have difficulty doing. Self advocacy is knowing your rights and your needs and expressing that information to the appropriate person.

An effective self advocate must be able to determine the optimum time to make their request(s), recognize an adverse reaction to the request and/or determine if the person receiving the request understands the need and suggested solution. (Sands, D. J. & Doll, B. 1996 Fostering Self Determination is a Developmental Task, Journal of Special Education)

Good self advocacy empowers people and allows them access to reasonable accommodations and strategies. (Brinkckerhoff, 1994, and Weller, Watteyne, Herbert & Creely, 1994)

Becoming a good self advocate is a process. Ideally advocacy skills begin developing in middle school. As needs and focus change so should self advocacy skills.

The Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network’s Transition (PYLN) Toolkit engages youth in getting to know themselves well, setting goals, and taking action for their own future.

PYLN Transition Toolkit


Problem solving and action planning are important for self advocacy, here are some tools for learning these important skills.


The California Department of Developmental Services Consumer Advisory Committee developed this simple, user-friendly guide for setting goals, making plans, and taking action.

The California Department of Developmental Services Consumer Advisory Committee developed a workbook and support materials that use pictures instead of words to help people have a voice in all areas of life.

Accompanying picture sticker book for above

Satisfaction Guide for Making My Own Choices

Action planning and problems solving charts 

Action Planning Chart

Problem Solving Chart