Beyond Child’s Voice: Even Our Youngest Students Are Advocating for themselves

by Carrie Jackiewicz, Special Services Coordinator

Every year, our School Program assesses our current students’ use of self-advocacy skills. For many years, we only had Primary II teachers complete rating forms for our students who are ages 5-8. This year we decided to start tracking our younger students in Primary I, who are ages 3 and 4, to see how their self-advocacy skills developed over the school year. I am excited to share what changes we saw over the course of the year.

Teachers completed rating forms for our students in the fall and spring. The teachers rate each student’s use of these specific self-advocacy skills:

  • Using a repair strategy with a teacher (I can’t hear what you are saying.)
  • Using a repair strategy with a peer
  • Asking for repetition (What did you say? Would you say that again?)
  • Asking for clarification (Can you say that louder? Did you say ___ or ____?)
  • Asking for more information (What does ___ mean? Can you explain that?)
  • Reporting problems with hearing devices
  • Using visual cues

This year, Primary II (12 students ages 5 through 8) showed nice growth – all of the students spontaneously, or when given a prompt use a repair strategy with a teacher, report problems with their devices, and use visual cues.

One of the Primary II students’ areas of largest growth was asking for repetitions. In the fall, about half of the students were asking for repetitions when prompted. In the spring, 84% of the students were asking for repetitions spontaneously! It is fantastic that they know they missed what someone said and they know how to ask a question to hear the information again.

For our younger Primary I students (ages 3 and 4), one of the biggest areas of growth was using a repair strategy with a peer. In the fall, only 5% of the students were asking a peer for repetition, with 78% of them not using any repair strategy at all. By the spring, 56% of the students were using a repair strategy with a peer spontaneously, and 22% of the students would use one with a prompt. We want our students to be comfortable asking their peers for help once they enter the mainstream, so it is great that they are learning how to use those skills here.

Another area of growth for Primary I was reporting problems with hearing devices, such as their hearing aids, cochlear implants, and remote microphone systems. In the fall, about 50% of the students reported problems spontaneously or with a prompt. By the spring, over 80% of the students spontaneously reported problems or would report with a prompt. It is wonderful that our youngest students are learning to report problems at an early age. Having constant access to curriculum here at Child’s Voice and out in the mainstream will lead to our students’ success.

Overall, it was a great year for self-advocacy growth for our students. I look forward to sharing our alumni’s growth with you next month.

A recent graduate shows off her advocacy book, which she will take with her to her neighborhood mainstream school.