Helping Our Children Speak Up For Themselves

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Children with hand up at school asking a question

When we can’t be there to advocate for our kids, it’s important that they can communicate their own needs to get the support they deserve. This is especially true in the school setting where kids are expected to be independent and meet a range of social and behavioural expectations.

Self advocacy skills are important so that kids can:

  • Ask for something they need e.g. I’m thirsty. Can you open this? I need the toilet.
  • Let others know how they’re feeling e.g. I’m feeling sad/lonely today as I don’t have someone to play with.
  • Communicate their regulation needs e.g. I’m having a hard time sitting still because my body feels high energy right now, can I go for a run around the COLA?
  • Communicate their learning preferences e.g. I have trouble remembering all those instructions, can you write them down for me?

A common problem we see, especially at the beginning of the school year, is the challenge that arises from teachers not yet having an understanding of how each child communicates and their specific learning style. You can help bridge this gap by providing the school/teacher with a summary of your child’s communication preferences and learning style.

If we can support teachers to have an understanding of each individual child and their needs, we can give them the best chance to adjust their teaching and put in accommodations to ensure the right support is provided.

Helping Our Children Speak Up For Themselves »

Communication Preferences

There are so many things you intuitively understand about the way your child communicates and it is so valuable to pass on some of this knowledge to your child’s new teacher. We have created a poster for you to fill out and provide to your child’s teachers, new therapists, and OOSH educators to help them gain a better understanding of your child’s communication preferences.

You can download the About Me Communication Preferences Poster in our Shop.

Helping Our Children Speak Up For Themselves »

Role Play

Using role play, or talking through possible scenarios and scripts, can help your child recognise that it’s okay to communicate their needs. Being specific and practising certain phrases can help build your child’s confidence to stand up for themselves e.g. I’m having trouble with this, can you explain it again?

Helping Our Children Speak Up For Themselves »

Understanding Themselves

In order to communicate their needs, children first need to recognise them and understand what they need. Some children have difficulty with interoception and recognising their body’s cues, so this might be an area to work on in therapy. You can also create a Learning Preferences Profile using the Whole Body Listening approach and resources from Everyday Regulation: https://www.everydayregulation.com/resources

Helping Our Children Speak Up For Themselves »

If your child needs support to develop their self advocacy skills, our team of speech pathologists can help build their communication skills and confidence so they can better speak up for themselves!

  • we have chosen to use they/them pronouns to be as inclusive as we can.

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