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Examples of Self Advocacy - Episode 25

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7:28 minExamples of Self Advocacy - Episode 25

Examples of Self Advocacy - Episode 25

Have you ever wondered what encouraging self-advocacy can look like? In this week’s episode, Jody, director of PACER’s Parent Training and Information Center, shares a creative, real-life example to help visual what self-advocacy can look like in action. One resource Jody shares within this episode is PACER’s Student Action Plan, which is a tool to develop strategies to prevent bullying and encourage self-advocacy.

  • Author: NBPC
  • Duration: 7:28 minutes
  • Date Posted: 2/28/2018

Series: PACERTalks About Bullying - Season 1

We are so excited to be launching our brand new series, PACERTalks About Bullying, where each week we will be talking about all things bullying. In our first episode, we’ll share more about PACER Center and what we do.


Hey there. Welcome back to PACERTalks About Bullying. I'm Bailey. We're glad you're here.

So this month we're talking all about advocacy and self-advocacy. And we hear from a lot of parents that it can be this tricky concept to figure out what self-advocacy looks like and what are the different benefits from it. So today we have Jody Manning with us, who is an amazing parent advocate and she is going to share a really powerful example that I think helps illustrate what self-advocacy is. So thanks for being here and we're really excited to share this awesome example with people.

It's my pleasure, Bailey. As you know, the National Bullying Prevention Center developed a fabulous tool for parents. It's called the Student Action Plan. And it's intended to help deal with bullying situations. And I was working with a mother who had a young son. For the sake of the story, I'll call him Johnny. And Johnny, at the time, was a first grade student and he had an IEP -- an individualized education plan -- through the category of ASD -- Autism Spectrum Disorders. And he was diagnosed with high functioning autism at the time. And he was dealing with bullying and we had an IEP meeting set up with the school. So before the IEP meeting, I emailed the parent the Student Action Plan that your team developed and explained how to use that tool. And I fully expected that she would share the information with her son, but I really didn't know what I was in for. When I showed up at the IEP meeting, along with the school staff and the parent, her son Johnny was at the meeting as well, which was really exciting and great because usually when they're that young they don't come to IEP meetings. And when we started talking about the tool -- the Student Action Plan -- with the school staff, it became very clear to all of us that Johnny was well-versed in this tool and how it worked. So the Student Action Plan works in a way that it's a three step process. The first step is the student identifies the situation that is troublesome to them. The second part of it is they identify what they would like the situation to look like instead of what it currently looks like. And the third step is they identify steps that they think would be necessary to change the situation. So when we arrived at that meeting, Johnny was well prepared with what he wanted to say about the three step process. And Johnny started the conversation by explaining the situation he was dealing with. And he described a lunch room situation where he was clearly being socially and emotionally isolated. That was the bullying situation that he was dealing with. And Johnny explained that he would go through the lunch line and he would have his little tray -- I'm sure you can picture it -- and he would go to the lunch table. And if the lunch table was full and he would start to sit down, the other students would make a grand exodus and leave him at the table by himself. If instead the table was empty and he would sit down and anticipate that some of his classmates or peers would join him at the table, that wouldn't happen. He would be left at the table all by himself. So, as you can imagine, his step two of the Student Action Plan was simply that he would like to have lunch with other students.


So when it came time to discuss step three of the Student Action Plan, where we would discuss steps that it would take to get the situation to look like step two instead of step one, I anticipated that the professionals and the parent and I would be having a discussion. Instead, Johnny -- right away -- said, "I have some ideas that I'd like to share with all of you." Which was really exciting because Johnny was self-advocating for himself. And he was really prepared to do this. So Johnny said, "My plan is that for a period of two weeks, I would like to have a VIP table in the lunch room." Which was really exciting to me because he was first grade and he understood what VIP meant.


So Johnny wanted a VIP table in the lunch room and he wanted to invite four of his classmates or peers to join him at the table and he wanted each of his friends to be able to get two desserts each day to join him at the table. And so the school staff agreed that they could give up an extra five desserts a day, which was really thoughtful and generous of them. We were grateful that they were willing to do that. So we agreed that we would go with that plan for two weeks. After two weeks, the IEP team met again and Johnny shared with us that he had some success, but he didn't have the opportunity to invite everyone to his VIP table and he had really hoped to do that to make connections with all of the students. Ironically, Johnny knew what it felt like to be left out and he didn't want to leave anyone out. So he wanted a little bit more time. And so the team decided he would get two weeks more time. We anticipated we would continue the same process and Johnny said, "No, I have a different plan." He wanted to bump it up a little bit. And he proceeded to tell the team that he wanted his mom to come to school every day. She was awestruck with excitement and Johnny right away said, "No-no-no-no, Mom. You're not going to have lunch with us. In fact, I don't really want you to come in fully into the school. I just want you to drive through McDonalds drive-thru. Pick up five Happy Meals and drop them off at the office." So those of you who are watching, if you're a parent and you've had a child who has been bullied, you probably understand that you would do just about anything to make sure that you could try to help stop that process. And she agreed to bring Happy Meals every day for 10 days -- two week period.


Yeah. And she did. She brought Happy Meals and the students were sitting at the VIP table. Who wouldn't want to sit at the VIP table to get a Happy Meal? They did that again for a two week period. We met yet again. And, ironically, when it came time to share about the situation -- to no one's surprise, I should say -- Johnny shared that everything was great. He was happy. More engaged with the students. The school staff then shared with us that when previously they had shared that Johnny might have been bossy or talked with his mouth full were the reasons why they said they didn't want to sit with him. Now they realize that he knew more jokes and riddles than anyone. He had a great sense of humor. He knew more about rockets than anyone. And he had a great belly laugh and he was just fun to be with. So that situation was completely turned around by some really great suggestions and ingenious ideas by a little first grader who was self-advocating for -- on behalf of himself, and the collaboration with school staff. And it was a great example of the student action plan at work.

Right. And what I really love about that example is it kind of encompasses self-advocacy by showing that it empowers the students and it really plays to their strengths and their abilities, and it can be this customizable plan to really ask for what we need.

Yes, exactly. It's a really great tool. I hope more people use it.

Absolutely. And thanks again for Jody for being here today and sharing this awesome story. And remember, together, we can all help create a world without bullying. See ya!