Speaking up for myself

Becoming more independent is a natural part of life and happens at different times for different people. During transition, you can work towards becoming more independent and taking ownership of your healthcare, as appropriate and to the best of your ability. Part of this preparation includes becoming more involved in managing your healthcare and making decisions about your healthcare, either by yourself or with support.

As you feel more comfortable, you might spend some time at each clinic appointment talking to your health professional on your own.

Tell your parents and your health professional if there are specific skills you want to practise, for example, making appointments, saying your medical history, answering questions or filling prescriptions. Talking to your health professionals may be hard at first, but with practice it gets easier.

It is important to talk to your parents about how and when you want to take on more responsibility for your healthcare. Decide on the role you want your parents to play in your healthcare. For example, you might want your parents in appointments only to remind you in case you forget something. Or maybe you do not want your parents to say anything at all. Maybe you still want your parent to have a very active role in your healthcare.

Sometimes you and your parents won’t agree about your healthcare. If you disagree about anything relating to your healthcare, it is important to work out these issues sooner rather than later. Early on in the process of transition, talk to your parents about what role you would like them to take in your healthcare and at appointments.

The role you want your parents to play in your healthcare will likely change over time, so have regular conversations about this with them.

Self-advocacy

Self-advocacy is a skill where you learn to speak up for yourself and let your doctor (or other health professionals) know your concerns and questions.

Learning how to advocate for yourself is part of becoming an adult.

Self-advocacy skills are important in health, just as they are in other parts of your life. Young adults who have been prepared to advocate for their needs and make their own decisions have more control over their quality of life.

Here are some tips that may help you to advocate for yourself:

  • Learn how to explain your cerebral palsy clearly.
  • Practise speaking about your cerebral palsy with a parent, friend, or someone else you trust
  • Stay calm and polite, but assert yourself to get the support or information you need
  • Speak up if you don’t agree with your health professional and let your family know if you have concerns.

No one knows you better than you do; trust that you have control over your healthcare.

 

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