The day my daughter was diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome was the day I began my self-taught training program for special needs advocacy. I had much to learn about her diagnosis and much to change about my approach (I usually like to please people) and I knew the process would be intense. I had to educate myself on the diagnosis and its implications on her cognitive and physical development, and identify the special needs required to maximize her potential. I also had to find a strong, yet diplomatic voice inside me to make sure we received these needed services. The following 10 steps are what I learned in the process:

1. Learn to listen. In the days, weeks, and months after you receive your diagnosis, your only focus is to become an expert on the special needs of your child. Listen to everything the professionals have to tell you and learn as much as you can from other parents who are living it – you don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. The more you understand what it is you are dealing with the better you will be able to understand how to meet their needs. You don’t necessarily have to know the specific therapies your child needs, but you do need to become the resident expert on their diagnosis.

2. Make it personal, because it is. The best piece of advice I ever got was from my daughter’s early intervention teacher. She recommended I put an “all about me” packet together with every piece of information I had regarding her diagnosis. I included all evaluations that had been performed and any recommendations made. She also told me to include a short biography about my daughter that included her likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. I also included a small paragraph about our family and how we were all managing her diagnosis. The most important thing I included was a picture of my daughter on the cover of the packet. It humanized my daughter and made her a live person instead of a folder full of disabilities. I then hand delivered it to the director of the program.

3. It is crucial to learn all aspects of special education law. Some useful resources are IDEA and Wrightslaw. Consider taking an online course or attending a workshop in your area. Learn how to read an IEP; it is the roadmap to your child’s education – if you can speak the language it will be easier to get their needs met.

4. Don’t be afraid to speak up (be firm but respectful). In order to be a good advocate for your child you are going to need to speak up. It is important that you clearly communicate your needs and concerns in order to receive the right services. How you communicate these needs are just as important as what you communicate. Remember to be direct about what you are asking for (provide specific examples – not vague generalizations), respectful in how you are asking for it, and diplomatic when listening to their response (you may not get everything but often a reasonable compromise can be reached – an all or nothing approach will not serve you or your child well).

5. Change your seat, change your perspective. Long before I had children, I was a social worker at a day and residential treatment program for children. I approached special needs from a completely different perspective than I do today. I was the clinician not the parent. My goal as a clinician was to make sure we were meeting the needs of the parent and the child, but also to make sure the child fit into the overall structure of the program. At that time the, child was one of many in my caseload and I had an obligation to all who were under my care.

From a parent’s perspective, I now have a caseload of one. My only concern is that my child’s needs are met. To be a fair advocate, you do need to remember the team you are apart of has obligations beyond your child and sometimes your needs cannot be met instantly. If you come at it with this understanding I can assure you will experience less hostility, less aggravation, and more of a team approach to getting your child’s needs met.

6. Remember you are part of a team. Educating a special needs child is a team sport. The team will be made up of many different disciplines, but will also include you, as only you can offer the perspective on how your child functions at home. Consider yourself just as important as everyone else gathered at that table. It is crucial to not only listen objectively to others, but also be honest in what you share. A multidisciplinary approach is a very strong tool in developing a comprehensive treatment plan for your child. Remember check your ego at the door and nicely remind others to do so as well. It is not about you or them, it is about your child.

7. The truth can hurt, but it is how we grow. Brene Brown said it best, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” In order to develop the most comprehensive and effective treatment, you need to be honest about your struggles and concerns. Do not be afraid to appear vulnerable — as a parent you need to express to the team the realities of raising a child with special needs and the dynamics it creates with other family members. Do not assume the rest of the team truly understands what it is like as well as you do. I know it can be hard to share the painful and emotional times, but without understating the difficulties it will be impossible to implement new and important strategies.

8. Reach out in the good times too (it is not all bad). Everyone likes to hear positive feedback. It makes people feel good, and when you feel good you tend to be more motivated and productive. Don’t just call on the team when things are bad. Tell them the positive stories that have occurred as a result of their input, or the strategies they have implemented at school or home. Drop them an e-mail and let them know they are making a real and honest difference. Trust me, it will motivate them to stay committed and invested in your child.

9. Consult with experts when you need to. The IEP is a legal document and it is important you understand how to read it and what to look for as it serves as the road map for their education. If you are not sure, then it is definitely worth the time and money to have someone review it for you. Ask a friend, or hire a lawyer or a special needs advocate to look it over for you. Better to be safe than sorry. Getting the IEP right is money well spent.

10. Trust your instincts. They are usually right. This is probably the most important lesson I have learned so far. Your child’s needs are unique and likely require an individualized approach. Therefore, there is not one right way to handle these complex issues. Therapists, doctors, and educators have their opinions and recommendations, but ultimately you as the parents know best. Always trust your instincts. If you genuinely feel something is wrong, it usually is and do not be afraid to change course or express your concerns.

It takes patience, practice and perseverance to learn how to be an advocate for your child and your family. Be kind to yourself and others while you learn how to navigate the complex and often overwhelming world of special needs. You will find your inner voice and discover all the incredible things it can accomplish.

Follow this journey on Strength for Sydney

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On Wednesday in Orlando, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton focused her speech on what she calls an “Inclusive Economy,” one she says would ensure employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Clinton spent the first portion of her speech addressing police brutality, before moving into the importance of including working parents, women and minorities in the job market. Then, she explained how a key part to an inclusive economy would be including disabled citizens.

“Today I want to focus on one area that hasn’t gotten enough attention,” Clinton said. “It concerns a group of Americans who are too often invisible, overlooked, and undervalued, who have so much to offer but are given too few chances to prove it. Now, that’s been true for a long time, and we have to change it.”

Below is the transcript of the rest of Clinton’s speech, focusing on incorporating disabled Americans into the economy. You can watch the speech here. Tell us your take on her speech in the comments below.

I’m talking about people with disabilities, men and women, boys and girls, who have talents, skills, ideas, and dreams for themselves and their families just like anybody else. Whether they can participate in our economy and lead rich, full lives that are as healthy and productive as possible is a reflection on us as a country. And right now, in too many ways, we are falling short. We’ve got to face that and do better for everyone’s sake because this really does go to the heart of who we are as Americans. I intend this to be a vital aspect of my presidency.

I want to bring us together as a nation to recognize the humanity and support the potential of all of our people. And I want you to hear this because this is not well-known. Nearly one in five Americans lives with a disability. Now, some of those disabilities are highly visible, some much harder to notice. If you don’t know you know someone with a disability, I promise you, you do. But their disability is just one part of who they are.

Across the country, people with disabilities are running businesses, teaching students, caring for our loved ones. They’re holding public office, making breakthrough scientific discoveries, reporting the news, and creating art that inspires and challenges us. They’re veterans whose service and sacrifice has protected our freedom and kept our country safe. They’re working in the White House. Just last year a young woman named Leah Katz-Hernandez became the first West Wing receptionist who is deaf. So when world leaders come to the White House, the person who greets them is Leah. Think of the message that sends about how our nation sees the talent in everyone.

And Americans with disabilities are working on presidential campaigns. I know because several of my staff and advisors have disabilities, and they’re doing phenomenal work. I’m grateful to them every single day. And people all over America would say the same about their boss, their colleague, their employee, their family member with a disability.

Now, over the past few days, our country has taken leaps forward, not just in recognizing the humanity and dignity of people with disabilities, but in making long-overdue changes in our schools, workplaces, and communities so everyone can be part of our shared American life. Even so, not that long ago if you had a disability – if you couldn’t see, couldn’t walk, lived with dyslexia or muscular dystrophy or some other health issue – that one fact was allowed to define your entire life. Because of that and that alone, the world was closed to you. Not all of it and not for everyone, but for most people, basic essential things that others could do you couldn’t and never would. And that was that.

I saw this for myself, as Anastasia said, years ago when I was just starting out as a young lawyer working with the Children’s Defense Fund. One of my first assignments was to figure out why so many American kids weren’t in school. We looked at census tract numbers and we said, okay. How many young people between five and 18 live in this census tract? Then we would look at school enrollment numbers, and there’d be a gap. And we would say, wait a minute. Where are the kids? Why aren’t they in school?

I went door to door, along with people across our country, going into different communities. I was in New Bedford, Massachusetts. We saw a notable disparity there, and I soon realized that part of the problem was kids were stuck at home because of disabilities. There were kids who were hard of hearing, kids with intellectual disabilities. I remember one little girl in a wheelchair who was smart, curious, desperate to go to school. But that chair held her back. Not all schools had ramps or accessible bathrooms. Most teachers and aides weren’t trained to help her. So she didn’t get to go. It felt like the world had said to her, sorry, kid. Your life just isn’t going to be worth very much. And she and her family weren’t rich. They weren’t powerful. So what could they do about it?

That little girl reminded me of another little girl, my mother. She didn’t face the same challenges, but she, too, was clocked from a full and happy childhood – abandoned by her own parents, raised by grandparents who didn’t want her, and ended up on her own when she was just 14, supporting herself as a housemaid. But then something finally went her way. The woman she worked for encouraged her to finish high school. And that family showed my mother what a happy family looked like. After many lonely years, it was the start of a better life.

The core lesson from her childhood was that none of us gets through life alone. We all have to look out for each other and lift each other up. And I remembered that, sitting with that little girl in a wheelchair. My colleagues and I at the Children’s Defense Fund, along with others, gathered the facts, and we built a coalition of activists and families across America, and together we helped convince Congress to pass a groundbreaking law saying that children with disabilities have the same right to be educated in public school just like any other kids.

So we opened the doors to school, and then some years later I was so excited when the Americans with Disabilities Act finally passed, 26 years ago. It was bipartisan. The notion that workplaces and public spaces belong to everyone was something Democrats and Republicans both supported. And, by the way, I’m proud that some of the Democrats and Republicans who passed that landmark bill are supporting my campaign because they know where my heart is on this.

As Secretary of State, I appointed the first-ever special advisor for international disability rights because I wanted America to stand up for the rights and dignity of people with disabilities all over the world. And over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time working for kids with disabilities. In addition to Anastasia, who spoke at the convention, another young man, Ryan Moore, also spoke there. I first met Ryan when he was 7 years old. I was fighting for health care reform. He was born with a rare form of dwarfism. But he never let that stop him. He’s had so many surgeries, we’ve lost count of them. But his family was always there for them and – for him. And he was the advocate for himself as he got older. Now he’s a college graduate working in the technology department of his local school district. And he’s just one of the most optimistic people you’ll ever meet.

Listening to Ryan and Anastasia tell their stories at the convention this July made me think about all the people who never got the chance, never got the chance to get the education, let alone go to college, become forces for change. And I thought about all of the mothers and fathers across America who love their children more than anything and want so badly for them to have every opportunity that they deserve to have in America.

I’ll never forget something that the actor Christopher Reeve said. Some of you may be too young to know who he was. He was a huge star. He played Superman. He was unbelievably good-looking. He and his wonderful wife were friends of mine. And then he was paralyzed in a horse-riding accident. He once said that he had been thinking about a phrase that comes up a lot in our politics, ‘family values.’ ‘Since my accident,’ he said, ‘I’ve found a definition that seems to make sense. I think it means that we’re all family and we all have value.’ I couldn’t agree more.

We’ve come a long way since the fall of 1973, when I was going door to door talking to kids and families. But make no mistake. We still have a lot more work to do. We can’t be satisfied, not when over 60 percent of adults with disabilities aren’t in the workforce, not when businesses are allowed to pay employees with disabilities a subminimum wage [cheers and applause], not when people with physical and intellectual disabilities are still subjected to stigma and discrimination every single day. We’ve got to build an inclusive economy that welcomes people with disabilities, values their work, treats them with respect.

Now, one advocate after another has told me the same thing, ‘We don’t want pity. We want paychecks. We want the chance to contribute.’ As president, I’m going to give – give them that chance. First, we’re going to focus on jobs and incomes. I’m going to fight to give more Americans with disabilities the chance to work alongside those without disabilities and do the same jobs for the same pay and benefits. People with disabilities shouldn’t be isolated. They should be given the chance to work with everyone else. And we’re going to eliminate the subminimum wage, which is a vestige from an ugly, ignorant past. Good work deserves fair pay, no matter who you are.

Second, we’re going to work with our colleges and universities to make them more accessible to students with disabilities. To have a truly inclusive economy, we need a truly inclusive education system. So let’s raise our standards. For too long, accessibility has been an afterthought. Let’s make it a priority in our curriculums, our classrooms, and the technology our students use. It’s like what Anastasia said about her sister. She can communicate through a computer. Then let’s make sure kids who can communicate that way have the opportunity to do so.

Third, we’re going to partner with businesses and other stakeholders to ensure those living with a disability can get hired and stay hired. As part of that, we’ll launch a new effort we’re calling Autism Works to help people with autism succeed in the workplace.

Fourth, let’s build on the success of the Americans with Disabilities Act by finally ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It has the strong backing of leaders across the political spectrum, and it’s a chance to show American values and American leadership. And I have to tell you ever since I was first lady, I have had the great privilege of traveling the world on behalf of our country. When I was secretary of state, I went to 112 countries. And one of the things that I have noticed is how far behind many countries are in how they treat people with disabilities. Very often people with disabilities from the time they are babies and toddlers are locked away, basically forgotten. I want us since we have been the leader in this area to get that ratified and then to demonstrate to other countries what we have done and are doing to give dignity and opportunity to people with disabilities.

Now, these ideas are just a start. We’re working with advocates to come up with even more. If you’ve got an idea, we want to hear it. Go to hillaryclinton.com and leave your ideas because we are really welcoming this debate. This issue is very close to my heart.

I’ve always believed that the ultimate test of our society is more than the size of our economy or the strength of our military. It’s how we treat our fellow human beings, especially the most vulnerable among us. And on this front especially, I intend for my presidency to move our country forward. Together, we will make our economy and our country more welcoming to people with disabilities because we all win when everyone gets to share in the American dream.

Now, if you want some proof, let me tell you this story. It’s a story of a woman named Freia David. Now, some of you may have read about Freia in the Boston Globe. I’ve carried a copy of that article around with me because I loved it so much. Freia has Down syndrome. When she was 21, she got her first job, at the local McDonald’s. Her mother was a little worried, as any mother would be. She wondered, would Freia be able to handle being independent? Could she handle the job? Would she even pass the six-month training program? Well, not everyone in her class passed, but Freia did. And then – then she excelled at that job for 32 years. Her colleagues loved her, and she loved them. The restaurant became such a home to her that she’d bring her family there on off days just to hang out.

Earlier this year, Freia began to show signs of early-onset dementia. She knew that meant she had to stop working, but 32 years is a pretty good run, isn’t it? It broke her heart. One thing that made it a little better is the whole staff threw a party in her honor. Her family hoped a few people might show up. And in the end, nearly 100 people did: customers, colleagues and friends from over the years. The party lasted three hours. And at one point, one of Freia’s former managers asked for everyone’s attention. She turned to Freia, and she said, ‘We love you. We appreciate you. We respect you. And we are all better people for having you in our lives.’

My friends, after years of hard work and treating people right, isn’t that what we all want to hear? Isn’t that America at our best? We don’t thrive on tearing each other apart, or separating ourselves. We know we are stronger together. We believe in equality and dignity for all. And when we fall short, we strive to do better, not to blame and scapegoat but to improve ourselves, to move toward becoming that more perfect union that our founders hoped for. This election is a chance for us to move still closer to that goal, to make sure everyone can contribute to a growing and prospering America, to say loudly and clearly in this country, no one’s worthless, no one’s ‘less than.’ We’re all of value. In the United States of America, the greatest country in the world, we believe everyone is created equal. And you know what else we believe? We all believe love trumps hate.

Related: To the Politicians Who Forget Voters With Disabilities Are the Largest Minority


Attending university is an exciting time for students, young or older, but when a disability or chronic illness is a factor there are three Rs worth knowing about ahead of time.

My university years are long behind me, but they are certainly still fresh in my memory. I experience my life with a high level of physical disability; mine is a progressive neuromuscular disease that changes from year to year (I don’t like to say worsens).

Even though I worked for several years before embarking in university studies, I fell into the same pitfalls as other students with disabilities. I took on too much and tried to do everything without help. I discovered that attending university is not like upholding a job where structure and expectations are fairly clear. My mistakes took a toll on my health, and as a result it took me a year and a half longer to complete my degree.

Upon graduation, I assumed the position of Special Needs Coordinator for a Canadian university. There, I had the privilege of designing programs and arranging support services for students with a wide range of disabilities. I noticed that many students caused unnecessary stress and setbacks for themselves, just as I had. I realized there is great value in learning from others; that way we can avoid self-sabotaging what is meant to be an enriching life experience. Over the years, a pattern emerged and this led me to outline a “three Rs” approach to attending university with a disability.

Reduced course load.

Many students with health / ability challenges try to carry a full course load. Why? Simple — they want to be like everyone else. But dealing with health challenges takes time and energy. Attending physiotherapy, managing treatment protocols, needing care assistance, maneuvering across a large campus, coping with frequent illness due to a compromised immune system and more can seriously impact the focus needed to learn.

Reduce your course load in the first year. By taking one course less than what is considered full-time, you’ll be allowing time for important self-care. This will also enable you to learn how to manage this new environment in a manner that will fit with your special needs. If nothing else, your marks will better reflect your effort. Earning four good grades is better than five poor ones!

Regulate activities.

As a university student, you are expected to make your own schedule. Beyond the requirement to attend lectures, it’s up to you to discipline yourself to review, read and research (hey, another 3Rs!) in order to complete assignments. When your time is your own, it can be tempting to put things off, stay up late, and indulge in food and alcohol that are less than healthy.

Maintain a balanced weekly schedule. Weekends quickly lose their luster if they are seven days long. Eat a healthy diet, exercise wisely, rest and adhere to a sleep pattern that suits your needs. Keeping your body at its optimum will enable your mind to function at its best, too. Monitor your indulgence in caffeine, pizza, alcohol and late nights. Moderation rules.

Resources are available.

For many students with and without disabilities, attending university provides a first taste of independence. It’s a time to spread metaphorical wings and pursue tools needed to fulfill future career aspirations. But sometimes it’s easy to have a misconstrued understanding of the term independence. Independence does not mean you must do things alone, without assistance. Accepting help does not equate to being dependent. This concept can be especially difficult for young people with disabilities to grasp because the pursuit of independence on a societal level is strong.

Resources are available, and they exist to balance the educational playing field. If you have dexterity, visual, hearing or other difficulties, note taking services may help. If you require extra time during exams because of your physical or cognitive challenges, it’s OK to have it. If you need to defer a course past the no-penalty drop date due to illness associated with your existing condition, this can be advocated. If you need assistance in the library, living on campus, and more… services are available. University staff and faculty members are dedicated to helping all students succeed.

Attending university is an important life experience. Implementing these 3 Rs will help to ensure those with disabilities have an equal opportunity to fulfill their potential.

Read more on Susan’s website.


My mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when I was only 9 years old, so to me, it’s pretty much the most ordinary thing in the world. With a disabled parent, you get used to things that others would find difficult to imagine – everything from bath hoists (great fun as a kid) to flirting with hospital baristas to pass the time. Sometimes it can be painful, but other times, being part of a club as unique as this one can be quite fun. Here are five unexpected things you learn when you have a parent with a disability.

1. Wheelchairs are great – but come with their own challenges.

When my mum first switched from crutches to a wheelchair, I spent hours rolling around the ground floor of our house, pretending to be Ade Adepitan. That is, until I inelegantly crashed into a door frame. Navigating the world in a wheelchair is a completely different and often more difficult experience, including the way you are treated by others. As the child of a disabled person – particularly when you live with them or help care for them – you see this firsthand.

2. Disabled access is patchy at best.

There’s no quicker way to learn which universities, cafes, wedding venues and shopping centers are disability-friendly than by having a disabled family member. After having one too many stressful moments, you learn to have a sixth sense when it comes to unexpected stairs, narrow pathways and “characterful” buildings boasting exposed brickwork, original features and no elevators. And even when you aren’t with your parents, it’s hard not to notice when accessibility is not up to scratch.

3. Hospitals are your best and worst friend.

Hospitals are always bittersweet. While they often mark the treatment or improvement of a condition and being seen by the right people, they can also feel sterile and just plain boring. There are only so many tuna sandwiches you can eat from the cafeteria… and what about a hospital movie theater? That would certainly pass the time…

4. Childhood can be different.

You may not know anything else, but the life of a family affected by disability can be radically different from the “average” one. You may have to deal with things other children may scream and stamp their feet at – school plays might be missed, priorities may be different and routines most families take for granted – mealtimes, playtimes and holidays – can change or disappear due to illness.

5. You grow up with a different perspective on life – but in the end, a good one.

Despite the challenges, children of disabled parents tend to grow up with a perspective that proves really useful over the course of their life.

My mum’s disability has taught me to be selfless when I need to be, but also to insist on good care and attention when I or my family need it. I’m fiercely independent, but also kind and compassionate. And while I would not say I am grateful for her condition, I am very proud to be her daughter.

This post originally appeared on Verbal Remedy.  

 


When I tell people my wheelchair is sexy, they laugh. My question is, why?

People idolize cars. A Mercedes, Lamborghini or Ferrari is viewed as a symbol of success, but a wheelchair is commonly viewed as a symbol of hindrance and degradation. My goal is to change that by being “Crippled, Cocky, Confident and Cute.” It’s going to be a process, but it’s something I’m rolling for.

Why is a wheelchair viewed as a symbol of weakness? Firstly, walking is viewed as far superior to rolling. People don’t understand I feel as free and independent when my wheelchair is speeding down a block as someone who is speeding in his car and letting the wind caress his hair.

Secondly, people think a wheelchair holds its user back from doing important tasks. But I think of my wheelchair as more than a metallic object. It’s a symbol of independence. My wheelchair allows me to go to the bathroom independently, it stands up so I can reach high objects, and lastly and most importantly, it allows me to slow dance with a girl.

I’d also like to eliminate the misconception that a wheelchair holds an individual back from finding
true love. Some people believe a man or woman won’t be able to see past their wheelchair and get
to know the person in it. Instead of ignoring the wheelchair completely, I’d rather enhance it. I want to include my wheelchair as part of what makes me attractive. I think the unique life I live and the different way I think can and will be appealing towards the opposite sex. Rather than dwelling on negative past experiences, I focus on my self-confident belief that a woman will be enamored with the way I think and my approach towards my wheelchair. I may be overly-confident or stubborn, but I believe everything will work out for the best.

I believe that a wheelchair can be beautiful. It is a symbol of freedom that represents a unique lifestyle. I will not let societal norms dictate my views of what a wheelchair is supposed to represent. I will continue to fight for what I believe in, and I will continue to tell people my wheelchair is sexy!


My husband and I were talking the other day, and he told me a story about an incident that occurred when we were dating over ten years ago. One day we decided to go to the mall. We were just shopping together in a store and I was looking at some clothes, and my now husband was patiently waiting (and waiting…and waiting…) for me to finish. Apparently I was preoccupied when a man approached my husband and stated, “You’re a good man”. Well, he was right; my husband is a good man. He is loving, selfless, funny, and as mentioned before, patient. But, unless he was clairvoyant, there is no way he would have known all of that.

He was not speaking of my husband’s character. He was saying my husband was a good man because he was willing to be with me, a girl in a wheelchair.

Does dating or marrying someone with a disability automatically make you a good person? Absolutely not! I have known many people who have been in relationships with disabled individuals who were complete jerks. The idea that someone would, or should, only be in a relationship with a person with a disability out of pity is ridiculous. People with disabilities are more than just their disability. We are husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, farmers, truck drivers, students, etc. We are just as capable of providing love and support to another as someone is of providing it to us, and we are equal contributors to our relationships. My husband and I have an equal partnership that is built on love, trust, and faith in each other. It has nothing to do with my disability.

People with disabilities are not a thing to be objectified, fetishized, or pitied. Anyone who is in a relationship with someone for such a reason needs to get out of it. Anyone who thinks that people with disabilities are not capable of being in a relationship for any other reason than these needs to be educated. You don’t get brownie points just because you are in a relationship with someone with a disability. We are people who want to be loved like everyone else. We are people who want to give love like everyone else. We are people who are capable of contributing equally to a relationship, and it is offensive to assume otherwise.

So to the man in the mall, I say: stop assuming I need to be pitied. I am capable of providing love to someone. Your comments are insulting, and suggest that the only relationship I could be in is with “a good man” who is willing to stoop low enough to date someone in a wheelchair. Your words imply I am worthless. I am a strong, independent, loving woman in a strong, loving, supporting relationship with my husband of over 10 years. I am a good woman in love with a good man, and yes, I have a disability.

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