Children with disabilities have dreams at a young age like any other child does. Some want to be teachers, others want to be doctors and others want to be firemen. When they are ready to enter the workforce, they might get disappointed if there are employers who don’t want to hire them because they have disabilities. I want to discuss four myths I believe exist about people with disabilities in the work force.

1. “People with disabilities call in sick often.”

Some people might think those with disabilities get sick often due to their disability. This is usually not true for many people. First of all, if a person with a disability is sick often, they might not be trying to find a job at that time. If they apply for a job and come in for an interview, they are motivated to work.

Chris Lenart

2. “The work is too much for the person, so we can’t hire them.”

How can the people who are hiring know what the people with disabilities can or can’t do? You can’t know what someone can or can’t do without knowing the individual. Sometimes I would have to ask my manager for more work because I was getting bored at work. At the company I worked at, we had diversity groups we could set up. So I set up a diversity group for employees with disabilities or employees who had a family member with a disability. The work for this group was on top of our regular work. We had about four people with a disability in the group.

3. “The person with a disability might require some modifications to the work place and the company can’t pay for it.”

If the person with a disability needs a few modifications, how hard is that? For me, I just needed several things modified. First, I needed the desk to be raised. It is easy because the cubicle is adjustable so they could put the desk at any height that I wanted. This was one-time modification if they didn’t move me. The second modification was a touch monitor. Now it is really easy to get. I have gone without a touch monitor for years so I could go without it for a while. The last thing is a key guard for the keyboard. It allows me from pressing multiple keys at one time. Some people with disabilities need wider stalls in the bathroom or an extra grab bar in the stall. If the company is following the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act), the bathrooms already should have a stall for people with disabilities.

4. “We have such a fast pace here that we don’t think the person could keep up with us.”

Well, how do you know that the person with a disability can’t keep up? Did you ask the person or did you decide this on your own? For me, the first few years were really easy for everybody. Then there were some hard deadlines. Everybody had to work faster and smarter. It included me. I could have just continued the normal pace or took it as a challenge to keep my promise to the company that I would make sure my work was done on time and working to how the users wanted it. The company has to ask themselves if somebody new could keep up whether or not if the person has a disability.

There are many more myths to talk about, and you can come up more yourself. All I am trying to say is that people with disabilities are not hopeless. They are human beings with a desire to work like any other person, and companies just need to give them a chance to work. Maybe you’ll hire somebody remarkable and he or she might do something great for your company.

Follow this journey on Chris’s website, Disability Awareness, and on the Disability Awareness YouTube channel. Read more about Chris and the book he co-wrote, “They Said We Couldn’t,” here.

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We have recently started attending comic conventions as a family after discovering that our kids (ages 9, 12, 12 and 14) really enjoyed them. For anyone considering attending a convention, whether it is for comics, fandom, anime or video games, here are a few of my tips to help make the convention experience better for everyone.

1. Finding an event — until we started attending them, I had no idea there were so many conventions out there! A good source of information is Upcoming Cons. Most of the bigger conventions are on there, plus some of the smaller regional ones. You can also try Googling your city and “comic convention” and see what comes up. I was surprised to find two smaller conventions in my hometown that we now have on the calendar.

Wizard World conventions are held through the U.S., and while they may be costlier than others, they seem to be well organized.

2. Do your research — depending on the venue, there will be crowds, people in costumes (cosplay), vendor booths, panels and innumerable other events. You can often find videos of the convention you are considering on YouTube to watch with your child to gauge their interest in it.

Many of the local conventions have Facebook groups to discuss the convention and disseminate information. I have found these groups to be invaluable in seeking feedback on aspects of the convention.

I suggest also checking the event website or calling to find out what accommodations they have for special needs. It’s also a good idea to discuss the refund policy in the event you are not able to stay. I have found that many operate on a case-by-case basis as far as refunds go.

3. Consider your child — judge whether your child might enjoy attending a convention. As I mentioned before, YouTube videos of conventions might help to gauge interest.

4. Trial Run — Check with your local book or comic book store to see if they have any events scheduled that provide the opportunity for your child to try their hand at cosplay in a smaller setting.

Barnes and Noble have “Get Pop-Cultured” events happening during the summer at stores nationwide. This is my crew at one.

Kids at Barnes and Noble Doctor Who “Get Pop -Cultured” event

5. Celebrity Appearances — Guests can cancel their appearance! If you are communicating who is going to be there, I suggest using language like “supposed to be there” versus “will be there.” I learned this lesson the hard way at Louisville Fandomfest when we had tickets for three “Doctor Who” companions, and the day before the convention began, the announcement came that two of the three would not be there. There was a similar occurrence with the “Star Wars” actors where only Carrie Fisher appeared. The news did not go over well, but we made the best of it!

Arthur Darvill (Rory on Doctor Who) with kids at a comic convention
Arthur Darvill (Rory on Doctor Who) with Stephanie’s kids

6.  Go on the opening day — many conventions are more than one day (often Friday, Saturday and Sunday). In my experience, the first day is typically the least crowded and provides a much more relaxed con experience. Admission lines are shorter, and the vendor aisles are less crowded. We usually buy tickets for multiple days and use the first day as a “reconnaissance mission.” It’s the time we peruse the vendor booths, explore the layout and make sure all of our photo ops are in order (many cons require you to exchange your photo op ticket for a coupon — there is nothing worse than showing up to get in line only to be told you need to exchange it!). I also scout out potential “quiet” spots if they are needed and make sure everyone sees where the lost and found is located!

We usually go on Saturday and/or Sunday too because that is when many of the celebrity photo ops and other events are. Saturday is usually the most crowded day, so if that’s the only day you can go, I suggest downloading a map of the venue if it is available.

Admission for kids is often free with a paid adult admission, so that is always something to check!

7. What to Bring — I bring a backpack with an iPad, portable charger, ear plugs (or headset), Advil, sunglasses (it helps with visual overstimulation for one of my kids) and comfort items.

I am also the pack animal for any costume pieces my kids do not wish to wear any longer and purchases they might have made. Some convention centers have lockers available to rent, which might be very beneficial!

8. Food — consider bringing lunch or at least enough snacks to handle “hangry” kids. I have operated on the assumption that I will buy lunch for everyone only to find out that lines for food were long and slow (and you have likely stood in a few lines by that time!). The food itself is typically stadium food — and they might not have ranch dressing, which is something that spells disaster in my family!

9. Don’t Overstay — I know the signs of when my kids are crossing over into the meltdown zone, and I try to leave before that happens. If I can’t, then we’ll find a quiet area away from the main hall to have some chill out time or let them play around.

Kids posing with person in a bear costume at a comic convention
Cosplay and meeting new friends is fun!

10. Photo Ops — these can be an important part of the convention experience. Our average waiting time has been 25 minutes, and once they start, it goes fast! You don’t have a chance to talk to the celebs — you take the picture and they whisk you out of there! I have discovered the best chance of talking to a celeb is the autograph opportunity (which is another line, and again, make sure you have the correct ticket, coupon, etc. so you don’t get denied after standing in line). The better run conventions have people checking to make sure you have the correct items.

The cast of "Arrow" posing with a family at Wizard World Louisville

I would love to hear other tips you might have that I didn’t cover!

Follow this journey on Autism Odysseys.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or illness. It can be lighthearted and funny or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include at least one intro paragraph for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


Here’s something I’ve learned in the last 10 years: Raising a special needs child can be a very different experience from raising a special needs child who is medically complex. I know that sounds obvious, but you don’t really realize the difference until you live it. The medications, equipment, doctor’s visits, sleepless nights, hospital stays — it can all add up into one big ball of stress. Another thing I’ve learned is people want to help, but they might not know how. They may want to say something to alleviate the stress or bring you relief in some way, but they might actually make things worse. There are a lot of things I wish people understood about raising a medically complex child. This is my top five list:

boy with blanket smiling
Amber’s son, Ivan.

1. I really don’t need your advice.

I know people mean well, but unless you’re a medical professional or a family living through a similar experience, chances are pretty good that I already know more about my son’s condition than you do. Let’s face it, as the parent of a child with a serious medical condition, I’ve had to become an expert. And yet, all we need is one seizure in public, and suddenly every bystander thinks they have relevant information to add to the situation. Yes, I’m aware of the ketogenic diet. Yes, I’ve heard of cannabis oil. No, I’m not going to discuss my son’s treatment plan with a total stranger!

Instead of offering advice, I’d prefer simple acts of support. A stranger holding a door open so I can push my son’s wheelchair through actually means a lot to me. Friends who take me out to coffee while my son is in school and let me just be myself for an hour or two are irreplaceable. We often don’t even discuss seizures at all!

2. Please don’t ask if things are “back to normal.”

When your child is dealing with a complex condition, you’ll probably have quite a few scares. Emergencies are part of your routine, and you may end up in the hospital. You may end up in the hospital a lot actually. And you know what? This is normal. This is what life with a serious medical condition looks like. So when we get out of the hospital and are back at home, please don’t ask if “everything is normal now.” The question implies that we’ve left all that pesky medical stuff behind us. Yes, life is back to “normal” — but “normal” is a very subjective word.

You know what could really help instead? Trying to help us recreate normalcy while we’re in the hospital. Long hospital stays are draining for everyone and time seems to stand still. More than anything we’re often bored, especially when Ivan isn’t allowed to leave the room. A simple visit from a friend makes the entire day brighter. And if you want to bring chocolates, I’m not stopping you!

3. Don’t bring up our illness during good times.

Another part of our normal is that we have happy times. We laugh and have fun when we can. Things can get crazy in the blink of an eye, but in between the emergencies we are living life the best we can. So why would you want to remind everyone about the bad times when we’re happy? For example, when I post a cute picture of my son smiling on Facebook, please don’t reply with the macabre comment, “Get well soon.”

boy in hospital bed
Ivan in the hospital.

Here’s a better comment, I feel: “What a handsome young man he’s become!” Because (a) he’s probably not going to “get better soon,” (b) I’d like to think our friends and family can see past his medical issues and just appreciate his smiling face now and then, and (c) he really is a handsome young man!

4. Don’t offer to help if you can’t.

This is a tough one. For some reason in our society the automatic response to someone being ill or having an emergency seems to be to say, “Let me know if I can do anything” or my favorite “Don’t hesitate to call if you need anything!” Don’t hesitate — just do it!

But I do hesitate, and do you know why? Because in my experience, 95 percent of these promises of help are provided with no intention of follow-through. When I finally do collect my courage and ask for help, the answer is generally no (“I’m so sorry! I wish I could — I’m just so busy!”). This may sound over the top, but it’s not an exaggeration to say this is kind of soul crushing. If you can’t help, please don’t offer.

And if you can help, try to help in something specific rather than with a vague open-ended “Let me know.” Offer to watch our cat while we’re in the hospital or to pick up groceries when Ivan is really ill. Offer to do something small that fits your schedule — and it’s much easier for me to accept when I know you’re already committed.

5. Please include us.

We might not come or we may cancel last minute, but please invite us to your child’s birthday party or to tag along on an outing. Living with complex medical issues and the constant fear of an emergency is isolating. It also holds us back from doing a lot of the fun things we want to do. Which means what we need more than anything are good friends and good times. If you can give us the chance at both, please do!

boy being treated in hospital bed
Ivan in the hospital.

Follow this journey on Wonder Baby.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or illness. It can be lighthearted and funny or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include at least one intro paragraph for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


I feel like saying thank you isn’t enough for the love and support you have given me. I’ll say it anyway, though: From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you do.

Nothing goes unnoticed. I’m beyond thankful for the several hours you spend devoted to helping me in your already jam-packed day, for the nights you lie awake with me in bed as I’m constantly getting sick or crying in pain, for the endless communication you have with my doctors, teachers, extended family and so many other people. If I was to list out everything I appreciate that you do for me we would be here all day, although I would like to bring up a few things that have really left me in awe.

Just like this is my first time coping with chronic illness, this is your first time at parenting. I’m sure the day you found out I would have medical issues you had tons of mixed emotions. I know you wouldn’t trade me for the world, but I can imagine from a parent’s perspective, you want the best for your children. I know every struggle I face affects you just as much as it does me. It’s a stab in the heart for the two of us. You just want to see me happy, and it kills you to know there isn’t anything you can do to take the physical and/or mental pain away — trust me, I get it. Please listen when I say that without you, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today and I very well may not be here today. Please know that despite this being your first time being a parent, you are doing one hell of a job and I couldn’t ask for anyone better.

You have stayed by my side when everyone else in my life abandoned me. You showed me that no matter what, if I need you, you will be there. When I break down and cry out to you that “I don’t want to do this anymore,” you give me a shoulder to cry on and remind me exactly why I need to keep pushing on. You may be mentally exhausted from trying to make sense of why I ended up this way, yet you continue to prove to me when I never see you without an optimistic outlook that you are the strongest human beings. You show me that as long as I fight, you will be there fighting right beside me.

I’m begging you to realize that you have impacted my life more than I could have ever imagined. You showed me the true meaning of strength and love, and that was the greatest help anybody could have ever offered. You are the reason behind my fight. I love you and hope one day I can be half the person you are.

Please stop wondering how you can help me, because you have already done enough, and I want you to focus on yourself for once. Please don’t feel sorry for me. I believe God gave me this life because I’m strong enough to live it. While chronic illness may take a lot from me, it will never take the love and happiness you bring me.

Thank you for being there for me, loving me and supporting me. You have truly done more than I could have ever asked for.

young woman standing between her mom and dad
Anna and her parents.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Write a thank you letter to someone you realize you don’t thank enough. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


“Stop and smell the roses” — a cliche, yes, but also a reminder we could all use from time to time. After all, what better way to end the day than taking time to focus on your favorite parts of it?

We asked parents of children with special needs in our Mighty community to share the best moments of their days. Reading so many sweet, heartfelt responses made our own days a little brighter. Here’s hoping it does the same for you.

1. “When I throw off the cares and expectations of the world and just enjoy my child and celebrate all her accomplishments and watch her do her thing.” — JodieandAlan Gerling

2. “When I walk in his room in the morning to get him ready for school. I say, ‘Good morning, sunshine,’ and he smiles before his eyes are even open.” — Chris Dudley

Photo of blue sky with clouds and the text: “When I walk in his room in the morning to get him ready for school. I say, ‘Good morning, sunshine,' and he smiles before his eyes are even open.” — Chris Dudley

3. “When my nonverbal son curls up on my lap and snuggles with me. He is the most affectionate little guy I have ever met.” — Kel Billings

4. “When I drop my son off at school and he says, ‘One more hug, Mommy,’ five times in a row. You can never have enough hugs!” — Barbara Nothaker Meyer

Photo of school hallway with lockers and the text: “When I drop my son off at school and he says, 'One more hug, Mommy,' five times in a row."

5. “When my daughter unexpectedly comes up behind me and gives me a cuddle. They don’t come often, but when they do she makes my day.” — Maureen Gold

6. “Watching my son work through a challenge and push through to accomplishment; even when it’s as simple as saying hello to someone new. My heart bursts with joy for him!” — Megan Orine Campbell

7. “My son is nonverbal, but at least once a day, he will look into my eyes with a sweet smile on his face as if he’s looking into my soul and saying he loves me. It’s beautiful!” — Julie Cooper

8. “Best part of the day is when we are in our own little world. Our safe place at home. The challenges of the outside world are gone and for that moment in time we don’t need to worry about ‘swimming.’ We can just lay back and float carelessly and happily in the water.” — Crystal Beach

Photo of pink inner tube in pool water with the text: “Best part of the day is when we are in our own little world. Our safe place at home. The challenges of the outside world are gone and for that moment in time we don't need to worry about 'swimming.' We can just lay back and float carelessly and happily in the water.” — Crystal Beach

9. “Morning cuddles and nighttime book reading are the best parts of the day; everyone in the house enjoys this. We are all relaxed, taking time to just enjoy each other, be silly and breathe.” — Bridgette Rosek

10. “Even when I think my day cannot go any worse, my son makes me forget it in just a second. He’s the funniest kid, and there is not a day that goes by that he doesn’t make me smile and take my sadness or worries away.” — Wandis Villan

Photo of a dark sky with a rainbow and the text: “Even when I think my day cannot go any worse, my son makes me forget it in just a second."

11. “When my 8-year-old daughter  jumps off the couch (for no apparent reason), runs full speed into the kitchen to get a quick hug, kiss and “I love you,” and then runs right back to the couch.” — Lianne DeBanto Massa

12. “My son and I have this special ‘night-night’ saying that we do every single night, and without fail, he always adds something personal at the end, like, “I hope your knee gets better, Mommy” or “I hope I get better points at school tomorrow.” It melts my heart every time for him to show his caring side.” — Ninny Mundt Ryan

13. “The best moment of the day is when they wrap their arms around my neck and come in for a cuddle. Their love keeps me going every day.” — Kristin Novotny

Two starfish on the sand near water with the text: "Their love keeps me going every day.” — Kristin Novotny

14. “At the end of the day — when all treatments, therapies, medicines, supplements and blended tube feedings are done — we can forget about a diagnosis and enjoy cuddles and dance parties before bed!” — Amanda Moore

15. “When my husband and I were talking about how we were going to afford a car repair for his car, my 10-year-old son came up with all his allowance and said, ‘Here, you can have my money.’ We explained we would work it out and we didn’t want to take his money he earned. He said, ‘But we are family, and families help each other.’” — Susan Van Martin

16. “When my son with special needs, who just turned 20, tells me thanks for taking care of him. Or when he talks about his job and how proud of the residents (he is in a work-study program at a nursing home) he is when they accomplish a task.” — Christina Woods

17. “If I’m being completely honest, it’s that moment when everything is done for the day. My son has his meds, feeding pump is going, dishes are done, complicated bedtime routine is finished. Everyone is tucked away safely in bed and I can decompress for a moment.” — Kelly McCoy Hickey

18. “The best parts of the day are the little moments of connection — whether it be a tickle fight, a spontaneous hug or hearing ‘I love you’ with a sloppy kiss. The daily tasks are hard and exhausting, but I always try to appreciate these little things.” — Ann Weiss

A photo of a red heart on a chalkboard with the text: “The best parts of the day are the little moments of connection — whether it be a tickle fight, a spontaneous hug or hearing ‘I love you’ with a sloppy kiss. The daily tasks are hard and exhausting, but I always try to appreciate these little things.” — Ann Weiss

19. “Daily snuggles and a hand squeeze three times, our way of saying ‘I love you,’ in return from my nonverbal daughter, make any day better.” — Megan Hopper

20. “My son is currently receiving residential treatment. We speak every single day … The best feeling is when I blow kisses through the phone and his response is, ‘I tucked them in my heart,’ and then he blows me some kisses to tuck in my heart .” — Christine Hire

Person blowing a kiss with the text: "The best feeling is when I blow kisses through the phone and his response is, ‘I tucked them in my heart,’ and then he blows me some kisses to tuck in my heart .”

21. “When my son who is 3 and has autism (and limited language) says, ‘You are special just the way you are’ or ‘I like you just the way you are.’ I melt every time. He has no idea idea how strong that truth is to me.” — Kristy Ebert

22. “The best moment of my day is picking my son up from daycare, first, because his smile and hug make the day great, and second, because seeing him embraced and included by his peers is so gratifying.” — Julie M. Gerhart Rothholz

23. “When my son comes out of his room, touches my shoulder and smiles. He doesn’t need or want anything.. just an ‘I love you’ kind of thing. No need for words.” — Rebecca Ponder

24. “Watching my daughter do things every day that the docs said she would never do! She is a fighter and is still fighting on.” — Kaycee Diedrich Morrison

Blurred photo of stars with the text: “Watching my daughter do things every day that the docs said she would never do!

25. “When I give my ‘to-do’ list the middle finger and just play. Just sit on the floor and follow their lead.” — Jillian Halstrom Saddlemire

Photo of toys lined up with the text: "“When I give my ‘to-do’ list the middle finger and just play."

26. “When my son randomly starts singing a classic rock song and we all join in as a family to finish it. Those are the moments I’m thankful for autism and my son Fox’s infinite knowledge on the best music genre ever.” — Lauren Martin

27. “When laughter fills our house.” — Christy Vogel

Two woman sitting on the couch upside down, laughing, with the text: “When laughter fills our house.”

28. “When my kids show me love. I don’t need to hear it in words. I see it from them every day.” — Carly Beth

Two people holding hands with the text: “When my kids show me love. I don't need to hear it in words. I see it from them every day.”

*Some answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

If you’re a special needs parent, what was the best part of your day today? Share with us in the comments section below.


photo of applegate chicken nuggets “Approximately 4,530 pounds of chicken nugget products” produced for Applegate Farms, by Perdue Foods LLC, have been recalled, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports.

According to a press release, the products “may be contaminated with extraneous plastic materials.” This affects Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets produced on Sept. 28, 2015. The 8-oz boxed packages contain approximately 18 nuggets with Best Before Date Sept. 27, 2016. They were shipped to retail distribution centers in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas.

“Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them,” the release states. “These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.”

No reports of adverse reactions from consumption of these products have occurred, according to the release.

“No one has been hurt or is sick, thankfully,” an Applegate press release reads, “and we’re working on fixing the problem.”

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