Resources for families of children with Down syndrome during the coronavirus pandemic
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Important Links and Documents

How to Speak Up and Be Heard - Self-Advocacy Tip Sheet
 Self Advocacy Video Lessons

smiling young woman and young man

Welcome, Self-Advocates!

Did you know?... A self-advocate is someone who:

  • speaks up for himself/herself
  • stands up for what he/she believes is important
  • asks questions if he/she doesn’t understand
  • makes his/her own decisions (often with support from trusted family and friends)

While self-advocates may call upon others for support, they remain in control of their resources and how they are directed.

The MDSC believes that every individual with Down syndrome can become not just a self-advocate, but a strong self-advocate. We do this by making the empowerment of self-advocates a major component of all our programs for teens, young adults, and adults. This includes the following:


AIM: Teen & Young Adult Program
The MDSC’s AIM: Teen and Young Adult Program program provides fun, inclusive, interactive events each month for teens and young adults ages 13 to 22. AIM participants develop leadership and self-advocacy skills; build social relationships with peers; and grow confidence in an encouraging environment.

The MDSC’s Self-Advocate Advisory Council (SAAC) is a group of adults, ages 21 and up, who direct the MDSC on how our organization should best serve the teen and adult population. Council members develop key skills for becoming future leaders in the MDSC and the community. The SAAC also plans quarterly social events and workshops for adults throughout the state.

Conf YA 2011Self-Advocate Workshops at the Annual Conference
The MDSC’s Self-Advocate Workshops at the Annual Conference is one of several tracks available to attendees of our Annual Conference in Worcester every March. During a full day of workshops, self-advocates have an opportunity to network and share experiences, strengthen their self-advocacy skills, and learn about the importance of leading a healthy life and building meaningful relationships.

We hope you will participate in one of MDSC’s programs for teens and adults, but we want you to know that you can start practicing self-advocacy right now!

Want to learn more about self-advocacy? Here are some helpful resources:

SABE - Self Advocates Becoming Empowered is the national self-advocacy organization and works hard for the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities throughout the United States.

M.A.S.S. - Massachusetts Advocates Standing Strong’s mission is "to empower self-advocates through education so we can make choices that improve and enrich our lives."

How to Speak Up and Be Heard: Self Advocacy - Tip sheet from UMass Medical School's Transitions Research & Training Center

Self-Advocacy Online - Video clips covering different self-advocacy topics and stories from real-life self-advocates

Becoming a Stronger Self-Advocate - The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) has information about what self-advocacy is and how to strengthen your self-advocacy skills

People First Language - Kathie Snow, author of “Disability is Natural: Revolutionary Common Sense for Raising Children with Disabilities”, provides guidelines of appropriate language

Spread the Word to End the Word - A campaign to end the use of the R-word