Advocacy and ‘non-instructed’ advocacy with disabled children and young people with complex communication needs

  • Jo Miriam Greenaway-Clarke

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Independent advocacy is a tool to support children and young people in decision making, a right afforded under Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). For disabled children and young people with complex communication needs in the United Kingdom, specialist advocacy is often referred to as ‘non-instructed’ advocacy. To date, there is very little ‘academic’ research in this field, and this study seeks to address this gap. Mixed methodology is utilised to examine advocacy and ‘non-instructed advocacy through a literature review, an ethnographical study of the advocacy relationship of five children and young people and their advocates, and semi-structured interviews with eleven advocates using vignettes to replicate advocacy cases.

Taking the elements of Article 12 namely expression, support and regard, the advocacy relationship with disabled children and young people with complex communication needs is considered in the context of the wider ecosystem of the child or young person utilising Systems Theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). I recognise Lundy's factors (2007) of ‘voice, space, audience and influence’ within Article 12 for all children and young people and add an additional factor of ‘value’ in relation to disabled children and young people’s participation based on my research evidence.

This research is innovative in that disabled children and young people are themselves participants in the ethnographical study. As a result of the research, I seek to reframe and challenge the term ‘non-instructed’ and suggest ‘instruction’ is on a ‘continuum’. I conclude that advocates have a fourfold role of observer, conduit, facilitator and challenger in the realisation of the rights of children and young people, particularly those with complex communication needs. I propose a conceptual framework to support future advocacy practice with children and young people with complex communication needs.
Date of AwardJun 2020
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAnita Franklin (Supervisor), Lexie Scherer (Supervisor) & Catherine Carroll-Meehan (Supervisor)

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