Date of Award
Dr. Cheryl Braxton, Ed.D.
A person with Intellectual / Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) is defined as: “a person with a disability characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability originated before the age of 18” as stated by The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD, 2013).
All people with disabilities have a right to live, work, socialize and do anything a person without disabilities does! Advocacy occurs in many ways. There is advocating for one’s own needs, advocating for family, advocating as an agency employee, advocating through the government when laws are needed, and when someone needs help. Advocacy occurs in many places. Advocacy is in the church, at the school, in the community. The problem is when the personal rights of a child or adult with Intellectual /Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) have been ignored emotionally, developmentally and/or socially by someone or some institution.
My internship at The Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (P&A) has helped me to see firsthand the skills needed to be an advocate for People with Disabilities, especially when inclusion for people with Intellectual Disabilities is involved. Luker (2007) wrote
Congress first created the national P&A system in 1975 after national news stories revealed the rampant abuse and neglect and the deplorable conditions existing at large institutions for persons who had developmental disabilities. Since 1975, Congress has expanded P&A authority and created new programs so that P& As’ now serve individuals with all types of disabilities wherever they reside—in facilities, in community homes, or living independently (p.74).
From my experience in this internship, the most used phrase to sum up the role of a P&A advocate is that they are the safety net between the individual and a person who is working with the individual and may not understand where he or she is coming from through life’s lack of understanding. The safety net is the P&A advocate who listens to the concerns of the person calling the agency for assistance and then refers the client to the assistance or outside resource where the needs of the client will be resolved and their rights respected.
Guilmette, Katherine, "Inclusion and Advocacy for People with Intellectual/ Developmental Disabilities" (2016). Human Services Capstones. 10.