The reality is we don’t live in a fully inclusive world. When we advocate on behalf of ourselves or another, we are actually contributing to systemic change.
Over the course of your child’s life you will be modelling how to advocate for them in an empowering way. Gradually, your child learns important self-advocacy skills.
Once your deaf or hard of hearing child enters adolescence, they will have a natural desire for more independence and autonomy. They will want more control over their own life, and self-advocacy will be a vital skill.
As you allow your child to develop self-advocacy, you are not only giving them recognition that at times they may be the best judge of their own needs, you are empowering them to grow into adulthood with confidence.
The HEARO journey is ultimately about empowering kids to live their best life. Our role as parents, professionals and the wider community is to facilitate the growth and development of children that are deaf and hard hearing to thrive through every stage of life.
Such young people become adults that advocate for a more inclusive world. So, you can imagine how excited we are when we receive stories from our community of kids advocating for themselves.
Here’s Indy’s story shared from the perspective of her mum:
Indy has become a more outspoken advocate for herself.
At the start of this school year, Year 9 (age 14 and a half), Indy was given a new itinerant support teacher and I think this change was a catalyst for her speaking up and saying, “I don’t need someone with me in the classroom”.
As parents, we think we know best, but after chatting to Indy’s old IST, Kathy, she quoted a young hearing-impaired girl who came to speak to the DET recently. She felt that everyone was always telling her what was best with regard to her hearing. The girl explained that she was the best person to make decisions (as a teenager) about her own hearing and what she needed and didn’t need with regard to support.
So seeing that Indy has always been very capable and independent, we left it up to her to decide what support she needed at school.
We had a meeting with her new ITS and the head of her department and also her school’s support teacher. In that meeting (and mostly with Indy’s input) we agreed that she didn’t need someone supporting her in the classroom as she could manage situations/ teachers herself. We agreed that she would still have access to the school’s support teacher if she had any issues and also she could get help from her ITS on a consultative basis. Indy confirmed that she would still use her Roger pen in classes when it was harder to hear or follow the teacher such as in the Japanese class.
We also agreed that we would review her progress at the end of the term to make sure things were working out as planned.
At the end of the meeting, Indy felt one hundred feet tall!! Finally, adults were listening to what she wanted, which was to be treated the same as everyone else and to be trusted to advocate for her own hearing needs.
Do you have a teen self-advocacy story that you are willing to share with us?
We’d love to hear from you.
Here are some further links related to Self-Advocacy:
- Self-advocacy – Aussie deaf Kids
- Advocacy – Parents of Deaf Children
- Services for 12-17 year olds – Deaf Children Australia
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