23 July 2024

Support communication and self advocacy

Help students to communicate and advocate for themselves.

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Check for understanding

Check for understanding

Work with your learners to ensure they have correctly understood and interpreted the message being conveyed.

Help learners express themselves

Help learners express themselves

In challenging situations learners often need to use higher level language skills to resolve conflicts or solve problems.

Consider what might be barriers for learners in the following situations.

  • Retelling their side of the story.
  • Discussing their feelings. 
  • Discussing how others may be feeling.
  • Apologising and resolving conflict.
  • Agreeing to consequences and rules.
  • Thinking and understanding what went wrong.
  • Remembering new information about expectations.
  • Having to listen, process, comprehend, and respond in high stress situations.

Honour student contributions

Honour student contributions

Listen to students and honour their contributions.

Support student advocacy

Support student advocacy

Help students to be able to talk about their needs and to advocate for themselves.

Support students to:

  • explain their learning needs and preferences to others.
  • describe teaching approaches and resources that may be barriers to learning.
  • understand and articulate their rights and how to advocate for them.
  • find out about, and access, available supports and resources.

Source: Adapted from Rowan, L. M. (2010). It’s not all black and white: The transition of students with dyslexia into the first year of university study. Massey University (page 94). (opens in a new tab/window)

Ideas to support conversations

Ideas to support conversations

Strategies to support learners to engage in conversations.

Negotiation or conflict resolution

Support with pictures or drawing. Model new and key language.

 Re-telling events

Talk it through first. Storyboard ideas in sequence. Provide sentence starters.

 Build confidence to use language

Use a puppet or toy. Encourage the toy to carry out the actions.

Increase vocabulary

Represent new vocabulary and concepts using objects and pictures. Talk more to learners who talk the least.

Communication breakdown

Teach learners strategies to use, for example, gesturing for a speaker to stop or by saying “I don’t understand”.

Talking about emotions and feelings

Teach vocabulary for emotions, thoughts and feelings. Use pictures of different facial expressions to explore language.

Talking to others or sharing in a group

Give time so learners can process language and think about what they want to say.

Source: Children with social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties and communication problems, Melanie Cross (opens in a new tab/window)

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Embed social and emotional learning”:

Return to the guide “Behaviour and learning”

Guide to Index of the guide: Behaviour and learning

Strategies for action: