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Self-advocacy

Can I Ask to Have Self-Advocacy Goals Included in My Child’s IEP?

By Donna Volpitta

Can I ask for a self-advocacy goal to be included in my child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)?

Donna Volpitta

Founder, Center for Resilient Leadership

Yes, it’s definitely OK to ask for self-advocacy goals to be included in your child’s IEP. The IEP needs to include any goals that you and the rest of the IEP team think are important to help your child receive an appropriate education. Schools know that self-advocacy is essential for your child's success in the classroom and in the working world.

For example, it’s common for students with learning and attention issues to have difficulty asking teachers for help. Many students also struggle to stand up for themselves when interacting with peers. As your child gets older, these kinds of self-advocacy skills will become more and more important.

Just like the academic goals and objectives in your child’s IEP, the self-advocacy goals and objectives should be specific. Let’s say your child has a hard time approaching a teacher for help. The IEP could include a goal like this:

When student does not know what to do, he will ask for help by raising his hand during class and/or asking to see teacher after class. When meeting with teacher, the student will ask for assistance with a specific problem.

As with all the goals in an IEP, self-advocacy goals are most successful when paired with objectives that can be measured. Here’s an example:

By the end of the third quarter, student will ask for assistance with a specific problem during four out of five consecutive meetings with teacher.

Don’t hesitate to ask for one or more self-advocacy goals to be included in your child’s IEP. These are particularly important when designing transition plans for kids who are changing schools or preparing for life after high school.

Keep in mind that there are many ways to reinforce your child’s self-advocacy skills. Parenting Coach has lots of tips on how to teach your child to self-advocate. Something as simple as ordering a pizza can help kids work on figuring out how to approach someone for help and what to say.

About the Author

Portrait of Donna Volpitta

Donna Volpitta

Donna Volpitta, Ed.D., is coauthor of The Resilience Formula: A Guide to Proactive, Not Reactive, Parenting.

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