Personal Story

Feature Issue on Self-Advocacy for People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other Disabilities

What Self-Advocacy Means to Me

Author(s)

Aaron Westendorp is a Musician, Online DJ Show Host, and a Self-Advocate in Hopkins, Minnesota, who uses a communication device. He may be reached at crusiera2005@yahoo.com.

Illustration of Aaron Westendorp, with glasses and using a communication device to speak.

Growing up an active member of the Disability Civil Rights Movement, I learned that if I wanted to succeed in the world, I had to interact with it.  I learned early how to run my own show, without apologies. Even though I’m nonverbal and use an iPad to talk, I host my own radio shows. In my apartment, I supervise my nurses and PCAs. I participate in local events/social movements and play percussion in several groups. As an active member of society, I’m passionate about causes that unite. 

When I admire an organization, I dive in and get involved. I’m learning a lot about advocacy from minority groups who’ve advocated for their own civil rights for generations. Diverse voices complete the finished product in radio, a theater event, or any group of people improving their community.   

Every voice matters.