INCLUSION & SELF ADVOCACY
Inclusion is one of the most natural processes in our life and starts from the time of birth when the mother welcomes the newborn, after that the family and later by the society. Some children, especially the children with disabilities may have moderate acceptance by family and very weak (bordering on rejection) acceptance by the society. That necessitates the use of the term 'inclusion' for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Therefore Inclusion means Interpersonal relationships and community participation in one’s life.
In the case of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, one more factor comes into play. Their cognitive comprehension or learning ability generally borders on innocence, and their disability is invisible and hardly understood by mainstream society. Therefore, they face multiple discrimination at immediate family, school, at the workplace and in the larger society. That is why it is often said that ‘Disability’ is a social construct resulting in lack of opportunities for a person with disabilities and often results in discrimination and isolation. So to overcome the this, first and foremost is the full acceptance of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities as people by the society and encouraged active participation. Society must recognize their human rights as enshrined in the law and give the opportunity to realize their strength and potential instead of pointing out their weaknesses. Self Advocacy training plays a potential role of in the life of a person with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
A self-advocate realizes his/her strengths and weaknesses, develops his life goals, learns to be assertive where required and makes decisions whether big or small independently. A person with intellectual and developmental disabilities is facilitated by a Mentor to become a strong Self Advocate.