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Self-advocacy is the ability to share your likes, dislikes and goals with others. Some people refer to self-advocacy as speaking up for yourself.

Building self-advocacy skills starts with realizing your opinions and questions are important.  Learning to talk about your ideas or share your point of view is what self-advocacy is about! 

​For some, speaking up is easier than others. Some people are naturally outgoing and some are shy.

  •  It is reported that 40-50% of Americans are shy!  So if you are feeling a little timid at speaking up, you are not alone.  

The  good news is self-advocacy is a skill that can be learned.  Did you know some adults pay 'life coaches' to help them practice for important meetings?  Really!  

  • Practice speaking-up by taking the lead in conversations with people you already know.  You might feel awkward at first, but with practice, you will gain confidence. 

  • Let your parents know you are ready to take an active role in your health.  At medical appointments prepare your questions ahead of time.  Write them down and rehearse if it helps.  Talk to your health providers directly.  Let them know your preferences.  The same goes for school meetings and talking with your counselors. 

The main take away here is, your opinion counts.  It is important for you to be able to share your preferences so you can achieve your future goals.  

           Find your voice, remember you have important things to say!

Self advocacy

YHT Mini Activity:  ​A way to practice self-advocacy is to take the lead at your health care visits


  • Be prepared to answer questions about the purpose of your appointment.  Are you coming in for a check-up, are you feeling sick, is it time for a flu shot?  Talk it over with your parent on the way to the office so you will have a ready answer
  • Ask your guardian to give you a few minutes to talk to your health provider alone when you are comfortable taking that step 
  • Ask any questions that you have about your health, nutrition, sex, really anything... 
  • Ask your pharmacist about the any medications you take.  It is important to know how to take medications correctly and if there are side-effects to watch for. Your pharmacist is a medicine expert!  

Remember, speaking up is awkward for many teens, you are so not alone. The easiest way to practice speaking up is to start with persons you already know. Give yourself a little mental push!  Take the lead and begin the conversation.  Next try starting up a conversation with someone you've just met.  The more you practice general conversation, the easier speaking up will get.   


                                             Speak up, your opinions are important!

​   References:  
   Supporting the Healthcare Transition from Adolescence to  Adulthood in the Medical Home. 2011, American Academy of  Pediatrics. 

   The Cost of Shyness.  Bernardo Carducci, Philip G. Zimbardo, published on November 1995 - last reviewed June 2013
   Youth in Action: Becoming a Stronger Self-Advocate.  National Collaborative on Workforce Disability
   Six Elements of Transition.  GOTTRANSITION.ORG

  YHT Workbooks & info

  Speak Up

  Have some fun and learn just what self-advocacy   is all about. Speak Up is an interactive tool for         building self-advocacy skills created by the             National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth. 

 Becoming a Stronger Self-Advocate

 A fact-sheet on building advocacy skills from the  National Collaborative on Workforce Disabilit.y 

 Working With Your Doctor
 A tip sheet for working with your doctor from

 the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy

 of Pediatrics. It includes a practice script if you  need help getting started...

 Workbook for Youth

 Excellent transition workbook from the Waisman  Center in  Wisconsin.  Covers a wide range of  YHT topics including healthy lifestyle habits, how  to plan for an appointment, adulthood/age 18,  advocacy, and oral health. 


 Transition from High School to Adult Life

 ​Step by step workbook for planning the transition  from  high school to adulthood developed by the  Rural Institute  at the University of Montana. 

​ Take Charge of Your Health

A teen transition workbook with great info   on        health and nutrition from the US National                Institute of Health (AKA the NIH)


 AAP Emergency Health History Form​

Paper Emergency Health form from the American  Academy of Pediatrics.  This form is a good way  to organize your health history 


Build Advocacy skills 

Youth Health Transition-Teen Health & Transition info

Find Your Voice