Today starts #SelfAdvocacySunday.  Each week we will bring you another installation about increasing your child or student’s self-advocacy skills because YOU, the parent, are the best resource to teach these skills.

What is self-advocacy?  

Much of what people with typical access to spoken language learn is incidental; it happens nearby and you see and hear an exchange and you add a bit of knowledge to what you have.  Children who are deaf and hard of hearing need careful monitoring of self-advocacy skill development and often direct, or explicit, instruction.  This great definition is from the National Deaf Center.

It was a perfect timing that Dr. John Luckner presented at the SC DHH Summit last week.  We already had #SelfAdvocacySunday planned, so that just reinforced the importance.  Target skills are from the Iowa Expanded Core Curriculum for Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Rev. 2013. The first step in #SelfAdvocacy is Self-Awareness; being able to recognize and express emotions, explaining her hearing loss and what accommodations work for her, and knowing constructive ways to manage feelings. 

This week we will start with being aware of emotions and feelings in self and others.  We’ll start with Early and Emerging Skills.  If you have a 10-year old that hasn’t acquired the Early skills, start there first. 

Early (typically preschool): 

  • Identifies one’s likes, dislikes, needs, wants, strengths and challenges. 
  • Recognizes and labels emotions/feelings
  • Describes the situation that causes various emotions, such as a birthday party, someone taking your toy, etc.

Emerging (early elementary): 

  • Distinguishes range of emotions
  • Describes physical responses to emotions
  • Recognizes and discusses how emotions are linked 

How you can work on these skills at home:  

Raising Deaf Kids says it succinctly. 

Show and tell your child how you’re feeling.  Even if it’s just ‘silly’ or ‘tired.’ Say how you’re feeling in words (spoken or sign language). This will help your child learn the words for different feelings. Show how you’re feeling with body movements and strong expressions on your face. Make sure your face matches the feeling you are trying to show. Don’t talk to your child about feeling sad with a huge smile your face – that will confuse him.

When you see that your child is sad or angry, tell him it’s okay to feel that way.  Let him talk about why he feels that way.

Take extra time to notice the feelings of other people.  You can do it when you look at picture books together, watch Sesame Street or other TV shows, and even in real life. Use words to describe the feelings. You might say things like, “That boy looks like he’s scared of the dog.” If you’re at the playground with your child, and you notice another child being teased, ask your child how that might feel.

Our own Language Lab about Emotions and Feelings lists the core vocabulary that children need.  Print and hang it somewhere and parents, USE YOUR WORDS! Lol. 

Here is a great read (and a printable to help you remember) about helping children identify emotions, let them know that it is okay to have even strong emotions, and start to manage those emotions.  

And I wouldn’t be a good educator if I didn’t mention that BOOKS are amazing to teach emotions.  Here is a list to get started.    

Next up are the skills for older kids! Happy Sunday!