Independence. It’s the cornerstone of our mission at Living Resources. We encourage each of our individuals to be the hero of their own lives, so they can grow to their fullest potential. Self-Advocacy is paramount to the mission of Living Resources, and is offered as a class in our College Experience, and an ongoing group for all who are supported by Living Resources.
The College Experience Self Advocacy and Empowerment Class was recently joined by Michelle Vinokurov, a 22-year-old autism advocate that is profiled in a new book titled, This is Autism (co-authored by Jessica Leichtweisz and Aidan Allman-Cooper.) Michelle told the group, “I really started understanding more of the world around me when I was in third grade because I went from a specialized school back into my town school district. That is where I learned how to start making friends and social skills.” She is now a paraprofessional working with elementary school students living with autism. Michelle feels she is able to relate to the individual struggles of the students and what they have gone through.
Michelle shared some advice for the students with regards to honing their self-advocacy skills, saying, “Being a self-advocate is about communication. In general, just talk about what you need so problems that could arise later on can be prevented. That is the most important part of being a self-advocate -just raising your voice to be heard.”
Living Resources’ Self- Advocacy Group focuses on learning how to be an effective self-advocate through education about rights and by practicing advocacy and communication skills through real life scenarios. The group, which is open to all individuals supported by Living Resources, has elected officials who co-run the group supported by Living Resources staff. Members support each other, learn about the Right of the Month, practice advocacy skills, and give feedback.