We all need to advocate for ourselves at some point in life – for example, when applying for a job, helping a child enroll in college, or resolving a conflict with a neighbor. Living with traumatic brain injury can increase the need for self-advocacy.
“Self-advocacy involves letting people know what you need and taking action to get those needs met,” explains Lenny Hawley, LCSW, the brain injury education and resource coordinator at Craig. “After a brain injury, your needs often increase. You may need services you never even imagined before your injury. At the same time, the brain injury can present new obstacles to self-advocacy. It may be challenging to remember, to communicate, or to have the energy to work toward your goals,” says Hawley. Therefore, it’s important to work on your advocacy skills.
Self advocacy involves 4 important steps:
- Take Care of Yourself – so that you have the stamina and emotional control needed for self-advocacy
- Gather Information – knowledge can empower you
- Organize and Prepare – be ready to back up your needs
- Assertively Communicate and Negotiate – express your needs in a way that’s assertive, not passive or aggressive
Craig Hospital received a 5-year Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) to study self advocacy. This research study will evaluate the Self Advocacy for Independent Life (SAIL) program, which aims to enhance self advocacy skills after brain injury. For more information on this research study, contact Lenny Hawley, Principal Investigator, or Clare Morey, Study Coordinator, at Craig Hospital.