Ivymount Creates Self-Advocacy Tool for Students

Ivymount staff has worked with more than 50 students to create This is Me stories and more are on the way. “Over the years, I have enjoyed seeing students put their heart and soul into a project that represents their strengths, preferences, and strategies,” says Dani Evans, a Program Specialist and Speech Language Pathologist, who helped pioneer the stories and the tool to create them.

Several years ago, Dani and others noticed a lot of students with communication issues didn’t know how to ask for the help they needed. As these students graduated from Ivymount, they had no way to share information about the strategies and supports that worked best for them. This meant a lot of valuable information got lost during transitions to post-school life.  Dani and Ann Kern, Director of Ivymount’s Speech Language Therapy Department, created This is Me stories to address this problem.

This is Me (TiME) can support neurodiverse individuals in sharing their unique skill sets, strengths, and interests, as well as advocating for communication and behavioral supports and strategies to promote inclusive environments and interactions with novel communication partners. The self-advocacy tool allows students to teach new adults in their lives about themselves by sharing pictures and video clip examples. Instead of their job coach or 1:1 showing new adults how to provide supports, This is Me allows individuals to share this information independently.

Ivymount School students have enthusiastically embraced This is Me. For example, Jaleah Plunkett said, “My story makes me happy because it tells people more about me.” Increased confidence and self-esteem is another big outcome. One Ivymount educator said of watching students as they share This is Me, “You can see how proud they are of it and how excited they are to start having really meaningful interactions with new people.”

Employers also benefit from viewing This is Me stories, and several have mentioned that viewing students’ stories changed the way they saw students. For example, one employer said, “It made me see him in a different way that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t sat with him and viewed his story. The story stepped up my impression of what he’s capable of.”

Dani and Ann have done several presentations at national speech language conferences. They’re finding great interest among professional colleagues in using the This is Me tool to support self-advocacy among neurodiverse students transitioning to adulthood.

Learn more about This is Me and read the how-to guide.

Read about how Ivymount Staff Share What Works.

Filed Under


Related Stories