One of the five key concepts of WRAP is self-advocacy. For many of us, this isn’t an easy thing to do. My son, Sam, has become a great role model for me in this area. He was diagnosed with food allergies shortly after his first birthday.
In addition to having his medicine available, my husband and I quickly became Sam’s advocates. We read product labels while shopping, sent in safe treats to school and birthday parties, searched for recipes that he could eat, studied which restaurants could accommodate him, created cards to give to servers listing his allergies, and more. We aren’t always going to be in the same place as Sam, so he has learned to be a strong advocate for himself.
When he was very young, I saw him quietly turn down cookies that were offered to him with a simple “thank you, but I have food allergies.” He knew to grab his own snacks for his games in case what was offered was something he couldn’t eat. While at a sandwich shop, he will now comfortably ask the person making the sandwiches to put on clean gloves before his food is handled. He will inquire about cross-contamination, verify cooking oils, and other concerns if we’re at a new restaurant.
I’ve watched Sam become confident when asking for the information he needs to be safe and remain healthy. He deals with this on a daily basis in one way or another. It’s not unlike using self-advocacy in WRAP.
It’s often easy to advocate for others but speaking up for our own needs can be more difficult.
From WRAP Plus, here are 10 steps for being an effective self-advocate
- Believe in yourself
- Know your rights
- Decide what you want
- Get the facts
- Have a planning strategy
- Gather support
- Target efforts
- Express yourself clearly
- Assert yourself calmly
- Be firm and persistent.
What steps can you take—or have you taken—to advocate for yourself? Let us know by emailing us.
Mary Jaffe is WRAP Business Manager at Advocates for Human Potential. She joined the AHP family in October 2017. She has been working in publishing and nonprofit publishing for over 30 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions, comments, and ideas!