Ask a Self-Advocate: How did you self-advocate in high school?

This post is part of MAC’s “Ask a Self-Advocate” blog series. This series was written by “JOSO*,” MAC’s 2017-2018 Young Adult Leaders Fellow, who is an autistic young man. The Young Adult Leaders Fellowship provides an opportunity for young adults aged 18-26 with intellectual disabilities and/or autism to learn the professional skills needed to advocate on behalf of other youth with disabilities. “Ask a Self-Advocate” was JOSO’s final project for the Fellowship and includes 13 posts published through the end of the year.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

My suggestions are based on my own experience. I realize that what worked for me may not work for everyone else.

I did not advocate for myself a lot in high school because I was not invited to my IEP meetings until I turned 18 during my senior year and I did not know that I had a disability until I turned seventeen. However, I do have some examples of how I advocated for myself during the college application and admission process.

Applying to College

College readiness class taught me some different criteria to consider when choosing which colleges to apply to, such as average class size, types of classes, and types of clubs and student organizations.

College visits helped me get a sense of the atmosphere and environment of the colleges. Some colleges were quieter and away from the city, while others were louder and in the middle of the city.

I was able to advocate for myself during the college application process. I talked with my mother, my mentors, and my college counselor about what colleges I wanted to apply to. I told them that I wanted to stay local in Massachusetts, live at home, and commute to and from college each day.

I went to an IEP team meeting in twelfth grade during which I tried to decide which college to attend. I made a pros-and-cons list of all the colleges that accepted me. My criteria for making the final decision was the amount of financial aid, amount of quiet spaces, small average class size, a good writing program, and a good disability program.

In my next blog, I will talk about how I advocated for myself in college (at Tufts University).

Click here to read the other posts in this series.