Advocacy Defined. Advocacy is a type of problem solving
designed to protect personal, and legal rights, and to insure a dignified
existence. There are many types of advocacy. For example, system
advocacy, is useful for changing "the system;" additionally, it is used
to promote causes. Legal advocacy is what lawyers are paid to do, and
legislative advocacy is designed to change laws. Self-advocacy, involves
advocating for oneself; while individual advocacy involves advocating for
another. While there are many types of advocacy, the focus of this section
will be self-advocacy.
Well practiced advocacy skills will increase your chances of getting what
you want; when you want it. Effective advocacy is built on a broad based
analytical approach to problem solving. The links in this section will
guide you step-by-step, through the skillful implementation of a self-advocacy
plan. Links elsewhere on this page will take you to related resources.
skills can help you avoid or solve problems with family and loved ones,
doctors and lawyers, employers, associates, and friends. Self-advocacy
skills can help you obtain reasonable and necessary accommodations in both
public and private settings. They can be useful in matters
of public entitlements, such as education, housing, employment, transportation
The forms (tools)
in this section will provide self-advocacy skill builders that can be use
in both private and public matters. In these pages you will learn the basics
of self-advocacy. You will learn to identify and define problems,
design and implement action plans and track and measure results.
Exercises in this section are designed to build skills that will enable
to identify, resolve, and in many instances, prevent
Well practiced self-advocacy skills can give you important advantages in
most situations. Sometimes you will be subjected to information
that is incorrect or inaccurate. Other times, you will face situations
that require you to make choices about things that are inappropriate, immoral
or unethical. Then, there are times when your rights to hu mane treatment
and dignified existence will have been ignored or denied. Self-advocacy
skills can help you identify, analyze, and make informed decisions concerning
such choices. The regular exercise of self-advocacy skills will empower
you to gain more control over your life.
Definition. Advocacy takes time and effort.
Developing a clear and specific definition of the problem helps minimize
frustration and waste. Additionally, defining the problem requires
you to distinguish major issues from incidental details. It means
getting to the heart of the issue and, if possible figuring out what is
causing it. In some cases, defining the problem also leads to ideas
for its solution. Advocacy skills will give you essential maps and
tools for defining and resolving problems.
Started. If you have had a head injury you will be
confronted with the advice of many professionals in the fields of medicine,
education, and/or rehabilitation.
You might become
confused by all the different opinions you receive about your care, or
you might not agree with a particular professional's advice or plan of
care. The challenge then becomes, how to advocate effectively for
your needs without alienating those whose help you need?
Expertise. Educate yourself about your condition.
Where head injury is involved, you might want to become expert in matters
of Post Concussion Syndrome. There are many ways that you can become
expert about your condition. This web site and its links will provide a
solid basis for building such expertise. Increasingly, public and
university libraries hold a wealth of knowledge about head injury as well
as many other medical conditions and disabilities.
If you become familiar
with the medical
terms, possible prognosis and treatment choices for your
condition, you will gain the respect of professionals. Increased
confidence will come with your growing medical expertise. The application
of the self-advocacy skills in this section will give you the power to
achieve your objectives.
Good Records. Keep written records of all meetings,
telephone calls, and written communications about your condition. You are
entitled to copies of your medical and rehabilitation records, so be sure
to ask for copies from each professional. It is also helpful to have a
friend or family member to go with you.
notes of items covered and action plans. At the end of each contact or
visit confirm the accuracy of your notes and impressions. Ask for
opinions in writing , ask the professional you are working with to sum
up the results of any conclusions or action plans in a letter or
memorandum to you. That way, you will know right away whether you have
a clear understanding of any agreements that have been reached.
Solving. If you do not agree with a recommended
treatment or plan of action, you have options. First, you can present your
concerns in writing to the professional you are working with. A written
document is often more clear and convincing than a conversation that can
become emotional on such issues.
Next, you can
get a second or third opinion. When your well-being is at stake, it is
important to compare the advice from several professionals and choose the
option that is best for you. If you feel there is a need, you can take
your problems up the chain of command. Sometimes patients are reluctant
to "'go over a professionals head" in an organization, but that is why
there are levels of authority. You may find that your problems are easily
solved at the second or third level above the one where you started.
of Attitude. Finally, you are the last word on your
treatment You do not have to agree to any plan that you do not feel
is in your best interest. Trust yourself, you may not have lots of degrees,
titles or letters after your name, but you are the expert and ultimate
authority when it comes to your needs. You can get the best care for yourself
being friendly - yet firm, assertive - not angry, and persistent - not
positive attitude about your advocacy efforts is critical to your
success. As a society we hold many different cultural values.
Some of these values make it hard to feel good about your self when you
advocate; however, other values can make you feel good about your
advocacy efforts. The values and practices expressed in these pages
will help you create a positive image of yourself as an advocate.
Pays Off.Effective advocacy requires follow through. You must
follow up to ensure that agreements reached are carried out and that promises
made are promises kept. Exercises in this section
will help you track and determine whether agreements are actually
in this section will help you build skills to identify, define, solve and
prevent problems. You will also learn to set goals and objectives,
analyze and track outcomes. Skills in this section will empower you
to make informed thoughtful decisions. In other words, they will
help you to know what to do, and give you the know how to do it.
In the process you will develop skills to gain more control over your life.
those who helped you.
Each one of us has worked with truly dedicated professionals and individuals
who have become special friends and allies. Thank these special people
in little ways -- flowers from your garden..., virtual
flowers from the web..., a special card, a note of praise
to the firm, agency, or individual. Everybody likes to feel appreciated.
Sometimes little kindness' can improve a previously “problem” relationship.