Examples of Self Advocacy | PACERTalks About Bullying

>>Hey there. Welcome back to PACERTalks About Bullying. I’m Bailey. We’re glad you’re here. [ Music ] So this month we’re talking all
about advocacy and self-advocacy. And we hear from a lot of parents that
it can be this tricky concept to figure out what self-advocacy looks like and
what are the different benefits from it. So today we have Jody Manning with us, who is
an amazing parent advocate and she is going to share a really powerful example that I
think helps illustrate what self-advocacy is. So thanks for being here
and we’re really excited to share this awesome example with people.>>It’s my pleasure, Bailey. As you know, the National Bullying Prevention
Center developed a fabulous tool for parents. It’s called the Student Action Plan. And it’s intended to help
deal with bullying situations. And I was working with a
mother who had a young son. For the sake of the story, I’ll call him Johnny. And Johnny, at the time, was a first
grade student and he had an IEP — an individualized education plan — through the
category of ASD — Autism Spectrum Disorders. And he was diagnosed with high
functioning autism at the time. And he was dealing with bullying and we
had an IEP meeting set up with the school. So before the IEP meeting, I emailed the parent
the Student Action Plan that your team developed and explained how to use that tool. And I fully expected that she would
share the information with her son, but I really didn’t know what I was in for. When I showed up at the IEP meeting, along
with the school staff and the parent, her son Johnny was at the meeting as well, which
was really exciting and great because usually when they’re that young they
don’t come to IEP meetings. And when we started talking about the
tool — the Student Action Plan — with the school staff, it
became very clear to all of us that Johnny was well-versed in
this tool and how it worked. So the Student Action Plan works in
a way that it’s a three step process. The first step is the student identifies
the situation that is troublesome to them. The second part of it is they identify
what they would like the situation to look like instead of what it currently looks like. And the third step is they identify steps that they think would be
necessary to change the situation. So when we arrived at that meeting, Johnny
was well prepared with what he wanted to say about the three step process. And Johnny started the conversation by
explaining the situation he was dealing with. And he described a lunch room situation where he was clearly being
socially and emotionally isolated. That was the bullying situation
that he was dealing with. And Johnny explained that he
would go through the lunch line and he would have his little tray
— I’m sure you can picture it — and he would go to the lunch table. And if the lunch table was full
and he would start to sit down, the other students would make a grand exodus
and leave him at the table by himself. If instead the table was empty and he would sit
down and anticipate that some of his classmates or peers would join him at the
table, that wouldn’t happen. He would be left at the table all by himself. So, as you can imagine, his step two of the
Student Action Plan was simply that he would like to have lunch with other students.>>Right.>>So when it came time to discuss
step three of the Student Action Plan, where we would discuss steps that it
would take to get the situation to look like step two instead of step one, I anticipated
that the professionals and the parent and I would be having a discussion. Instead, Johnny — right away
— said, “I have some ideas that I’d like to share with all of you.” Which was really exciting because
Johnny was self-advocating for himself. And he was really prepared to do this. So Johnny said, “My plan is
that for a period of two weeks, I would like to have a VIP
table in the lunch room.” Which was really exciting to me because he was
first grade and he understood what VIP meant.>>Right.>>So Johnny wanted a VIP table in the
lunch room and he wanted to invite four of his classmates or peers to join him at
the table and he wanted each of his friends to be able to get two desserts
each day to join him at the table. And so the school staff agreed that they
could give up an extra five desserts a day, which was really thoughtful
and generous of them. We were grateful that they
were willing to do that. So we agreed that we would go
with that plan for two weeks. After two weeks, the IEP team met again and
Johnny shared with us that he had some success, but he didn’t have the opportunity
to invite everyone to his VIP table and he had really hoped to do that to
make connections with all of the students. Ironically, Johnny knew what it felt like to be
left out and he didn’t want to leave anyone out. So he wanted a little bit more time. And so the team decided he
would get two weeks more time. We anticipated we would continue
the same process and Johnny said, “No, I have a different plan.” He wanted to bump it up a little bit. And he proceeded to tell the team that he
wanted his mom to come to school every day. She was awestruck with excitement and
Johnny right away said, “No-no-no-no, Mom. You’re not going to have lunch with us. In fact, I don’t really want you
to come in fully into the school. I just want you to drive
through McDonalds drive-thru. Pick up five Happy Meals and
drop them off at the office.” So those of you who are watching, if
you’re a parent and you’ve had a child who has been bullied, you probably understand
that you would do just about anything to make sure that you could
try to help stop that process. And she agreed to bring Happy Meals
every day for 10 days — two week period.>>Amazing.>>Yeah. And she did. She brought Happy Meals and the
students were sitting at the VIP table. Who wouldn’t want to sit at the
VIP table to get a Happy Meal? They did that again for a two week period. We met yet again. And, ironically, when it came time
to share about the situation — to no one’s surprise, I should say —
Johnny shared that everything was great. He was happy. More engaged with the students. The school staff then shared with us
that when previously they had shared that Johnny might have been bossy or talked with his mouth full were the reasons why
they said they didn’t want to sit with him. Now they realize that he knew more
jokes and riddles than anyone. He had a great sense of humor. He knew more about rockets than anyone. And he had a great belly laugh
and he was just fun to be with. So that situation was completely turned
around by some really great suggestions and ingenious ideas by a little first
grader who was self-advocating for — on behalf of himself, and the
collaboration with school staff. And it was a great example of
the student action plan at work.>>Right. And what I really love about that example is
it kind of encompasses self-advocacy by showing that it empowers the students and it really
plays to their strengths and their abilities, and it can be this customizable
plan to really ask for what we need.>>Yes, exactly. It’s a really great tool. I hope more people use it.>>Absolutely. And thanks again for Jody for being here
today and sharing this awesome story. And remember, together, we can all
help create a world without bullying. See ya! [ Music ]