|Self-advocacy has a long way back in history. The first known traces of these meetings go back to the year 1968.|
When it comes to helping people with disabilities, activists have sometimes been guilty of overlooking the opinions and requests of the very same community they’re trying to advocate for. This is not new. Some people believe that individuals with certain conditions are incapable of speaking their minds or understanding their circumstances well enough to articulate their needs. More often than not, this is far from true. Disregarding or underestimating their insights can cause a rupture between what advocates think it’s best for them and what actually is the best for them. That’s how self-advocacy was born.
Self-advocacy is a social movement that was born in Sweden during the 1960s. The story of how it came to be is very telling. After an organization for children with intellectual disabilities formed by parents adopted “We speak for them" as their motto, disabled people at the meetings decided they wanted to speak for themselves and started to voice changes they wanted to apply on the organization. National conferences were held all across the nation, and participants made statements addressing how they wanted to be treated by society.
We are people first
It’s no surprise then that the movement had a lot of success and spread to Great Britain, the United States, and Canada. In America, one self-advocate declared very eloquently during a conference in Oregon in 1974: “I’m tired of being called retarded - we are people first.” And so the "People First" self-advocacy movement began and became an international organization formed by people with intellectual disabilities.
To become a self-advocate, you have to be a member of the group the advocacy is for. For example, self-advocacy for autism is done by autistic individuals. It can go from communicating preferences and choices to family and caretakers, to speaking in conferences and creating projects to gather other self-advocates with the goal of defending and improving community’s rights, conditions and lifestyle, going as far as testifying in the Senate or carrying a political career.
This is a philosophy that most of these organizations have chosen. They’ve been investing their efforts in a rights-based approach to disability policies, urging society to become more inclusive and accept them. Not only in secluded meetings and places thought for them, but in public spaces shared with everyone else. This is especially important because while advocates might be more concerned about safety, self-advocates want as much autonomy as they can get to live their lives on their own terms and be happy. Because of that, many good things have come from self-advocacy, like the concept of “supported decision making,” which allows individuals to choose a supporter to provide decision-making assistance without having to depend on him or her completely.
If you’re part of any of these groups, don’t be afraid to speak up your mind. There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding mental health and physical disabilities, and there is no one better than the ones living with these conditions to talk about them and provide a window for the world to understand their reality. Advocates will always be invited to participate in these causes, but it’s crucial that self-advocates’ voices are heard and taken seriously. At Autism Soccer, we want to accompany our children every step of the way, providing our help and love when they need it and let them discover the world on their own. Contact us and join us today!
|Self-advocacy movements now focus on raising the voices of the unheard. It's a fight for those who are ignored, with human rights that are not fitting for them.|
Facebook: Autism Soccer
Instagram: Autism Soccer
Twitter: Autism Soccer