According to the Action for Advocacy website, accessed on 25 May 2017,
“Advocacy is taking action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain services they need.”
According to the National Autistic Society website, accessed on 25 May 2017,
“Advocacy is a process of supporting and enabling people to express their views, to use information and services, to find out about options and make decisions, and to make sure their rights are respected.”
Advocates work in partnership with the people they support and take their side. Self-advocates speak for themselves or for someone else in the same situation, for example, other people on the autism spectrum. Group advocates work together to support the other members of the group.
Advocates can include people on the autism spectrum, parents and carers, staff of voluntary organisations or paid specialists.
Some advocates specialise in helping specific groups of people, such as people with mental health needs or people on the autism spectrum. Some advocates specialise in helping people with specific issues such as education or disability benefits.
Some advocates work for independent organisations where they may be paid members of staff or they may be unpaid volunteers. In some cases, the local authority will pay for an independent advocate.
Some advocates may provide advocacy as a separate, standalone service or they may provide advocacy as part of a wider package of support. They may also train their clients so that they learn how to advocate for themselves.
The National Autistic Society website, accessed on 31 May 2017, provides more details about the different types of advocacy.
According to Waltz et al (2015), the internet is especially important for self-advocates.
“For at least some self-advocates with autism, the Internet is their only or primary avenue for self-advocacy. Specific forms of online self-advocacy have emerged, such as individual communications with the world via blogs, vlogs and self-produced films, and using the Internet to orchestrate collective advocacy via (electronic) letter-writing or adverse publicity campaigns, a tactic adopted by the US-based Autistic Self Advocacy Network to combat misrepresentation of autistic people in the media or by service providers”.