Question: Can I ask for a self-advocacy goal to be included in my child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)?
Yes, it’s definitely OK to ask for self-advocacy goals to be included in your child’s IEP. The IEP should have any goals that you and the rest of the IEP team think are important to help your child get an appropriate education. Schools know that self-advocacy is essential for your child to thrive in the classroom and in the community.
For example, it’s common for students who learn and think differently to have trouble asking teachers for help. Many students also struggle to speak up for themselves with other kids. As your child gets older, these self-advocacy skills become more and more important.
Just like the academic goals in your child’s IEP, self-advocacy goals and objectives should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented, and Time-bound). Let’s say your child has a hard time asking teachers for help. The IEP could include a goal like this:
When Jeffrey doesn’t know what to do, he will ask for help by raising his hand during class and/or asking to see the teacher after class. When meeting with the teacher, Jeffrey will ask for assistance with a specific problem.
Like all goals in an IEP, self-advocacy goals are most successful when paired with smaller objectives that can be measured. Here’s an example:
By the end of the third quarter, Jeffrey will ask for assistance with a specific problem during four out of five consecutive meetings with the 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. Something as simple as ordering a pizza can help kids work on figuring out how to ask someone for help and what to say.