The Right and Wrong Reasons to Advocate

I have a message to send loud and clear.

A true, honest advocate fights for the child, adolescent or adult whom they are representing.

They will position themselves to partner with all parties involved – the parents and/or other caregivers, school personnel, aides, the therapists, the case managers – and will not set out to make enemies of any of the aforementioned parties or convince caregivers that this is an ideal strategy.

Sending a message that insinuates that the majority of teachers and therapists are out to make someone’s life miserable, are abusive, and/or are targeting their child is dangerous and careless.

I am not asleep, nor was I born yesterday, and I am WELL AWARE about devastating situations that occur in our world today.

Stories are rampant every day across social media that demonstrate terror, harm and bullying, and those scenarios will still happen despite our strongest efforts. We can’t stop it all — but we can do better, together, as partners.

More often, the case is that people don’t know what they don’t know. They weren’t educated.

Maybe they never met someone with ASD, let alone taught them. They don’t have the resources. They lack skills to best support someone with challenges or are differently-abled.

There may be some really good folks who want to do the right thing, but who may not have the support or buy in from everyone in their district or organization.

People don’t know … what they don’t know.

I guarantee you, 9 times out of 10, people WANT to learn from YOU as to how to ensure someone’s success and abundance.

A dear friend and longtime advocate in my community taught me long ago that we as advocates attend meetings first and foremost for the person whose voice we are trying to amplify until they may do so on their own.

I’m so grateful for that perspective and I will carry that with me forever.

I’m watching a small handful of folks out there claiming to be advocates who are charging ridiculous amounts of money and whose tactics are to pounce, attack, and charge full speed ahead like a bull in a china shop.

That’s not advocacy.

That’s not coaching.

That’s not empowerment.

It’s bullshit. Knock it off.

Don’t advocate because it’s a sexy, Instagrammable 2020 money-making entrepreneurial gig, boss babe.

I’m not against charging money for a service or product (I mean, I am an author for heaven’s sake).

However, there’s a difference between charging for a service and taking obvious advantage of someone’s vulnerability. Hundreds of dollars to write an email?!?! GTHOHWTBS (Google this for definition, kids might be watching my post) … I’ll write that email for you myself in 15 minutes flat.

Advocate because you want to change this world for the better and help someone to live their best life. THAT, is advocacy.

*throws down the mic*

Caff-Adv O-U-T.

Written by, Catherine Hughes

Catherine Hughes is the daughter of two English professors. She is a passionate advocate, innovative storyteller, and community strategist. For over 16 years, she has provided comprehensive support and passionate advocacy to individuals and self-advocates, their families, and surrounding natural supports throughout their communities. She proudly serves as the Director of Family Support and Community Engagement at Achieving True Self servicing families across the Northeastern U.S.

Catherine is a best-selling author and editor for multiple books including It’s Going to be AUlright: Testimonies from Ausome Women Raising Ausome People, Made for More – Mental Health Edition and You Are Not Alone: Stories, Resources and Hope from Autism Moms. She is set to release several more works in 2020. Shop her books HERE. Catherine manages a blog and social media platforms as The Caffeinated Advocate.

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Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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