Call Pathfinder: Building Self-Advocacy & Social Skills Through Virtual Activities

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Caller: Hi, I am a therapist and I have been thinking several of my clients who have disabilities could benefit from some self-advocacy opportunities and more connections with their peers. They vary in ages from teens to adults as well as diagnoses, so it’s difficult to determine various options for them. Do you have any resources to help with developing more social engagement and self-advocacy skills?

Pathfinder:  Great question!

This seems to be the season for advocacy. We have numerous events on Pathfinder’s website calendar which will help build advocacy, independence, and social skills. It is always a good place to start looking for activities that can be educational and social.

For any of your clients who have autism, or are autistic, Autism Tennessee is holding several upcoming virtual activities for teens and adults, such as Discover – Social Skills Group, THRIVE – Teen Transitions Social Skills Group, and CONNECT Group for Adults. These are recurring activities that currently meet virtually but will likely resume in-person gatherings after the pandemic.  Visit Pathfinder’s calendar for more autism-related events.

The Tennessee Centers for Independent Living are sponsoring a seven-part virtual workshop on Zoom, titled: Navigating a New Normal Virtual Workshop. Scheduled Wednesdays from 1-3 p.m. CT, this seven-part series is designed to assist people with newly acquired disabilities and their families, people with disabilities that have or will significantly change over time, social workers, and others to navigate the programs they will need in order to become more independent and live successfully in their community. Key concepts like the Independent Living philosophy, self-advocacy, information and resources, and peer support will be emphasized. It is free but you need to register.

Feb. 17:                 Learning to Live with a Disability

Feb. 24:                Social Security

March 3:              Assistive Technology

March 10:            Housing and Transportation

March 17:            Choices

March 24:            Managing Your Plan of Care

March 31:            Vocational Rehabilitation

There is a Statewide Independent Living Council and six Centers for Independent Living across the state.

People First Tennessee is another resource that promotes self-advocacy as an organization comprised of self-advocates. The group has 9 chapters in Tennessee —  Blount, Coffee, Davidson, Dickson, Hamilton, Madison, McNairy, Rutherford, Shelby, and Williamson Counties – and they meet at different times. See the web page for information on how to join the organization and connect with a specific chapter.

For additional resources for particular clients, please call us again and we’ll be happy to connect you to any other options.