Exploring Self-Awareness of Self-Advocacy Skills Among Senior High School Students with Mild to Moderate Learning Disabilities

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Southern New Hampshire University
Students with disabilities do not take advantage of the resources available to them while in post-secondary institutions or places of employment because of a lack of self-advocacy skills (Mason et al., 2004). This inability to speak up for oneself results in a student’s inability to access the accommodations that they need in their postsecondary places of education or the workplace. Where does that start? Or where can that inability end? Students with mild to moderate disabilities have an IEP in school that allows their team to work on areas of strength and growth. As such, goals can be created in the area of transition that can explicitly teach students about the importance of self-awareness in self-advocacy as a psychoeducational goal, so students can ultimately embrace their neurodiversity. This qualitative phenomenological study explored the lived experiences of high school seniors with mild to moderate learning disabilities and the experiences that may have encouraged awareness and development of self-advocacy skills. This study is framed around the following research question: What are the lived experiences of high school senior students with mild to moderate learning disabilities as it relates to the development of self-awareness of their disabilities and the development of self-advocacy skills? The study was designed to investigate the complexity of this phenomenon through “exploring and understanding” (Creswell, 2009, p. 4) the meaning that students assign to their lived experiences in high school by exploring their interpretations of self-advocacy in high school and their perceptions of having the skills to advocate for themselves in a post-secondary or employment setting.