Self Advocates

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Self-Advocacy Resources at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and in Tennessee

Self-advocacy involves persons with an autism spectrum disorder or other disabilities speaking up for themselves to express their individual needs, goals, and desires. For some, it also involves advocating for others with disabilities in order to improve systems of services and supports.

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center provides programs and resources for persons with disabilities who want to gain skills and knowledge so that they can become effective advocates. We also partner with other organizations who support self-advocacy. Explore programs and resources listed below.

Education after high school


Religion and Spirituality

Taking Part in Research

  • StudyFinder lists research projects inviting children and adults on the autism spectrum to take part.
  • ResearchMatch is a research registry. You provide brief information about yourself and research interests and you will be contacted when a research study may be a fit.

Tennessee Opportunities

  • Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Associations in Tennessee is a map showing location of state CILs. For Middle Tennessee, see Empower Tennessee.
  • Partners in Policymaking is an annual program of the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities to provide leadership and advocacy training for adults with disabilities and family members of persons with disabilities.
  • People First of Tennessee, Inc. is a statewide grassroots disability rights organization run by and for people with disabilities to advocate in the areas of housing, education, employment, and transportation.

Advocacy Toolkit for Families with a New or Potential Diagnosis of Intellectual or Developmental Disability

This toolkit has been designed for parents or guardians of a child who has been recently diagnosed with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD), or caregivers who may be concerned about their child’s development. The toolkit includes a collection of frequently asked questions and helpful resources for families to promote best possible outcomes in their child’s development.

self advocates

Questions on next self-advocacy steps for you? Contact

Local: (615) 322-8529
Toll-free: (800) 640-4636