AARC Tip of the Month -  March  2015


Self-advocacy: The Power to Get What You Need

Self-advocacy is defined as, "a set of skills that enables people with disabilities to effectively communicate their needs to others and get those needs met." This can range from telling others what you like, to sharing with your boss the work accommodations you need to do your job successfully.


Self-Advocacy for Young Children

Do I really need to think about teaching self-advocacy skills to a preschooler? Yes! Actually, if you are teaching communication skills or choice making you are already teaching self-advocacy! All children need an effective way to make their needs known. For non-verbal or minimally verbal children with autism this is even more essential. Without another way to communicate, young children with autism will often use challenging behavior as a way to communicate their needs and wants. While most children with autism will develop speech, approximately 30% will not. Even for children who will eventually speak, providing an augmentative visual communication system (pictures, symbols, sign language, etc.) is a good idea. Using a visual communication system can help all children remain calm and positive as they walk through each day. Having an appropriate way to ask for what you need and reject what you don't like is the first step towards self-advocacy!


Self-Advocacy in Elementary School

Elementary school students with ASD can work on self-advocacy skills in a variety of areas. When trying to determine which skills to address for a particular student, look toward their same age peers. How do typical elementary school students demonstrate self-advocacy? Elementary school students learn appropriate ways to get adult/authority attention, like raising their hand or calling a teacher's name. They learn when and who to ask for help, to tell someone if they are sick, to demonstrate knowledge by giving a correct answer in class, and to appropriately share opinions with friends. Students with ASD should address these same skills in the way that is most appropriate for them. For example, after students can use a word, sign, or picture to request "help" we can teach them to give more specific information about the kind of help they need, such as "I don't understand" or "Open this, please." Giving more specific requests to others is an important step toward self-advocacy.


Self-Advocacy in Middle School

Middle school can be a tough time for students with ASD, however, supporting a students' self-advocacy can help with some of the challenges a student faces. By middle school, many students with ASD can attend at least part of their own IEP meeting. This allows the student to feel more included in the special education process, and helps them understand their accommodations and educational goals. Providing input to the decision-making process for their educational plan encourages a student to "buy-in" to addressing their goals and using their accommodations. Middle school students with ASD should also be supported to participate in the development of their BIP if they have one. At a minimum they could choose the reinforcement to be used and help identify replacement behaviors. Another important part of self-advocacy is understanding one's disability. Middle school students are generally ready to participate in discussions about their disability with trusted adults. There are also several good books available on this topic written by young adults with ASD.


Self-Advocacy in High School and Beyond

As students with ASD advance through high school they should address the following areas of self-advocacy: 

  • Understanding their disability and the accommodations and supports they need to be successful
  • Self-disclosure (when and how to tell others about their disability)
  • Choosing vocational exploration activities based on special interests
  • Using the phone independently (if appropriate)
  • Using e-mail and internet to gather information
  • Making their own medical and other appointments
  • Choosing classes
  • Making their own goals
  • Leading their own IEP meetings (as much as possible)

During the transition to adulthood, students should be supported to take the lead as much as possible in making life decisions while receiving gradually decreasing support over time. 


Awareness Month Events

AARC Barnes & Noble Bookfair

Saturday, March 28, 11 am - 6 pm

Anchorage Barnes & Noble

200 E Northern Lights Blvd

Anchorage, AK 99503


Join us for a day of great entertainment and fun activities at the Anchorage Barnes & Noble. When you buy something (a book, a cup of coffee, a movie), mention that you support the book fair and Barnes & Noble will donate a percentage of your purchase to the AARC. All funds raised will be used to buy books on autism for libraries around Alaska.


Scheduled to appear:

  • UltraLucious: a blues & rock duo, Katie & Cam Nance. Read more
  • Country Memories Band, with Kagey on the sax: playing oldies but goodies, nice music from the past
  • Local vocalist Jennie Morris and pianist Betsy Hunt enjoy volunteering and performing at nursing homes, shelters and hospitals. "Our music comes from our heart and we hope that you feel the joy from our music as well."
  • Rant 'n Raven Morris Dancers, with singer Dawn Berg
  • Grover Neely: singer-songwriter
  • Anchorage Jazz Collective
  • Mary Anne Green: folk music 
All day long we will have face painting, temporary tattoos, crafty activities, an information table, and more!

Can't make it to the store? You can also shop online from March 28 to April 4, using Bookfair ID number 11433612.


Click here for a voucher for the Anchorage Book Fair


Anchorage Walk for Autism

Saturday, April 25th, 2:00pm - 4:00pm

The Dome

6501 Changepoint Dr

Anchorage, AK 99518


Registration for the Annual Anchorage Walk for Autism is open! Register online by April 3rd to get your t-shirt.



$25 for adults

$15 for kids 4-17 (ages 3 and below are free!)

$100 for families of 6-10

$150 for teams of 6-10


Registration at the door (cash only, no ATM on site):

$35 for adults

$25 for kids 4-17


In addition to the Walk for Autism, we'll also have fun activities for kids and families, healthy snacks, and a chance to win one of our great door prizes!


Books of the Month:
Through funding from the Alaska Mental Health Trust, Parents in Policymaking donated some fantastic books to the SESA Library in August, 2014. Here are a few sample titles, and the full list can be found here:  http://sesa.org/content/library/PartnersPolicymaking

These books are available in the SESA Library. You may search the library on the SESA website, or you may contact our Librarian, Anne Freitag, at afreitag@sesa.org or 907-334-1301

For easy searching on the SESA Library site, we've added the ISBN number. Simply copy, paste, and search!

101 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits: a field guide
By: Melani Mathos
Wiley, 2012. 
ISBN:  1118106245

"The ultimate social media field guide for nonprofits--with 101 ways to engage supporters, share your mission, and inspire action using the social web. 101 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits features 101 actionable tactics that nonprofits can start using today, and most of the featured resources are free. Broken down into five key areas, this unique guide explains the steps and tools needed to implement each tactic, and provides many real-life examples of how nonprofits are using the tactics. With this book as your guide, you'll learn how leading nonprofit professionals around the world are leveraging social media to engage constituents, communicate their cause, and deliver on their mission. Presents immediately useful ideas for relevant impact on your organization's social presence so you can engage with supporters in new and inventive ways.

  • Features 101 beginner to intermediate-level tactics with real-life examples
  • Offers a workable format to help nonprofits discover new ways of deploying their strategy
  • Includes nonprofit social media influencers from leading nonprofits around the world including National Wildlife Federation, March of Dimes, and The Humane Society 

Nonprofits know they need to start engaging with supporters through social media channels. This field guide to social media tactics for nonprofits will feature 101 beginner to intermediate-level tactics with real-life examples to help nonprofits discover new ways of deploying their strategy and meeting their social media objectives"-- Provided by publisher


Kidpower  Safety Comics: An introduction to "people safety" for older children ages 9 to 13 and their adults
By: Irene Van der Zande
Illustrated by: Amanda Golert
Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International, 2012. 
ISBN:  1479277622

"Helps answer the question, "How can my older kids stay safe while becoming more independent?" Provides a fun, practical tool for discussion and practices on how to stay safe from bullying, abuse, and violence - and how to avoid difficult or dangerous problems with people you know and people you don't. Brings more peace of mind to worried parents. Contents include: Cartoon- illustrated stories that give young people information they really want to know in an entertaining way. Directions for adults on how to practice personal safety skills with kids ages 9-13. Basic "People Safety" skills for protecting everyone's emotional and physical well-being. Solutions to common problems such as bullying, stranger safety, and boundary issues. The tools in this book are most appropriate for youth ages 9 to 13 who are beginning to be more independent in the world. Young people really want to know how to take charge of their safety."--publisher's website.


Stir it Up: Lessons in community organizing and advocacy
By: Rinku Sen
Jossey - Bass, 2003. 
ISBN:  0787965332

"Stir It Up - written by Rinku Sen - identifies the key priorities and strategies that can help advance the mission of any social change group. This groundbreaking book addresses the unique challenges and opportunities the new global economy poses for activist groups and provides concrete guidance for community organizations of all orientations." "Throughout the book, Sen walks readers through the steps of building and mobilizing a constituency and implementing key strategies that can effect social change. The book is filled with illustrative case studies that highlight best organizing practices in action and each chapter contains tools that can help groups tailor Sen's model for their own organizational needs."--Book Jacket.