Lyndse Ballew

@lyndse-ballew | contributor
Lyndse Ballew is a Mrs. and mommy raising a toddler with polymicrogyria and sharing about her family of five at Little House In The City: theballews.wordpress.com
Lyndse Ballew

Why I Think It’s OK to Get Pregnant After Having a Child With Special Needs

Those double lines came at one of the hardest times in our marriage. We were sinking financially. We were still trying to find out if our daughter, Adelaide, was terminally ill. If her condition was deteriorating. If we were carriers of some disease. I couldn’t fit into any of my clothes for a Saturday wedding. So I jokingly took a Friday night pregnancy test. And it was positive. We were shocked. And when I should’ve been thrilled, I immediately started thinking of all the things people would say. We had already heard from loved ones and strangers alike who said we had the perfect little family. One boy. One girl. A girl who needed so much. In seemingly nice ways, and horribly insensitive ways, we heard the opinions about our family being complete. No more room for anymore Ballews. As I stood in that kitchen smiling and laughing and crying with my husband, I already felt my joy being stifled. I was fearful of the looks and comments that I knew were coming. I’ve never understood the “one of each” mentality, but I’m not judging people who stop having children after a son and a daughter. I don’t think it’s wrong to decide to stop conceiving or adopting. I don’t think it’s wrong to have an only child. Or to have no children at all. When Adelaide turned 1, we were still waiting for our second opinion on her MRI. We were still a couple months away from meeting with a pediatric neurologist, the one we hoped would have some answers. While we waited on the doctor’s opinion about our baby’s brain, opinions about my uterus were still pouring in: “You’re done having kids after that one, right?” and “You already have one healthy kid. Don’t test your luck.” The opinions crossed over from the cultural obsession with one boy/one girl to this unhealthy obsession with never giving kids with disabilities younger siblings. So many people think they have the answers for me and other moms in the special needs community. And it’s almost worse when you’re in the undiagnosed club. Too many variables. They forget that any child at anytime has the potential for glitches in the DNA. And that perfect babies don’t exist. And this lie that a woman can’t have another child after one is born with issues causes us to put some of our joy on the back burner. I think it’s wrong to tell a woman who is raising a child with special needs that she no longer has the option of more children and that a child with disabilities can’t be a big sister. But I wasn’t brave enough to say these things when I was pregnant with my third. I made the mistake of letting everyone into my head. When I should’ve been rejoicing, I was worrying. I stressed about how people would judge me. How he was thinking we should’ve been more careful. How she was thinking we should’ve waited for more genetic tests. How they were thinking we couldn’t afford another little one with all of Adelaide’s medical bills. How everyone was thinking I couldn’t handle three kids so close together. When we announced our pregnancy, my imagined fears became reality. I rarely heard a “Congratulations!” without a comment like “Are you worried it will have disabilities, too?” or “Well, you know this one’s your last, right?” or “What are the chances it won’t be healthy?” I always had witty responses, but I never the courage to say them. I also lacked the courage to tell our new neurologist that I was already pregnant with a baby we hadn’t planned on. At all. “You may decide to have more children someday after doing all the genetic tests,” he told me. I just kept my mouth shut. He didn’t see my baby bump because I was hiding it. I wasn’t emotionally ready to be judged by one more person. As I sobbed on the way home about Adelaide’s appointment, our news about polymicrogyria and the realization that there was no cure ever for our sweet daughter, I just held my small baby bump. Dave looked over and said, “Every single baby comes from a messy gene pool. It’s a crapshoot. But we’re in this together.” He thought I was fearful for Baby Ballew’s future but I wasn’t. No, I was fearful for mine. I was doubting my ability to parent this surprise. I was so sick from growing a human and breastfeeding another. And it seemed like more proof that the lies I kept hearing were true. I was in over my head. I could barely mother two, but now I would have more kids than hands. I gave into all the comments from man when I believe I should’ve been listening to the Holy Spirit. Bess was unexpected. She wasn’t planned by us at all. But she was dearly loved by us from that first pregnancy test. And I believe she was loved by God before we even knew about her. How I wish I could go back and silence my inner chatter and all the naysayers. Now I often hear, “Three? You’re done, right?” or “You’ve got your hands so full you would never even think of a fourth, right?” or “Guess you’re done! Where would you put another one and push a wheelchair?” I just smile and walk away if the person seems sweet and nosy, and I give my “teacher look” if the person is rude and needs to quickly walk away for everyone’s safety. I don’t know if we’ll have a fourth. We aren’t planning anything. We gave away our baby items to make room for homeschool containers. When my son, Graham, asks when he’s getting another sibling, I just say that we don’t know if we’ll have anymore babies. But if we do, I won’t make the mistake I made with Bess. I won’t listen to all the people who share their opinions, well-meaning or nasty. I would proudly show off my baby bump, shout from the rooftops that another blessing is on the way and ignore the comments about making Adelaide a big sister to another sibling who will eventually pass her up. It’s hard slaying the idols of pleasing others and being accepted. But I won’t stop trying. I owe it to my kids to celebrate them to the fullest. Follow this journey on Little House in the City.

Lyndse Ballew

Asking a Special Needs Mom When She Discovered Child's Disability

“When did you find out? At her ultrasound or when she was born?” I could tell she wasn’t asking me about my daughter’s gender. I always feel for first-time pregnant mamas who start asking me questions about my daughter Adelaide’s disability. The fear in their eyes is unmatched, even though they try to hide it. Because we use expressions like “perfect baby” and “as long as it’s healthy” and we think if we don’t focus on gender, but on health, that we’re safe. That our society has made some sort of advancement concerning life. But all we do is place unrealistic expectations. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with hoping and praying and desiring a healthy baby. But we don’t prepare people for the reality that babies aren’t perfect. Not a single one. With or without disability, babies don’t come into the world the way we think they will, or latch right away, or sleep through the night, or stay on a perfect schedule or poop only when wearing a diaper. And some babies are not born healthy. And some, like Adelaide, are born looking healthy, and you don’t learn until later that a baby’s brain is abnormal. That no surgeries can fix what’s wrong. That you may have just gained a lifelong roommate. All your visions of the future change. But it doesn’t change worth. Adelaide is no less worthy now than she was as a “healthy” newborn. And I believe her value as a human was there when she was conceived. And when her ultrasound was “perfect and healthy” and we had no clue. I look at this mom-in-the-making and say, “At her nine-month appointment. We found out shortly after her nine-month appointment.” And that woman looks panicked. Because our society says you can announce your pregnancy after 14 weeks to be safe. And you can get ultrasounds and fluid checks and blood tests to be safe. Or you’re safe when they shout that APGAR score. But we’re not ever safe. Because we conceive, carry and bring into this atmosphere imperfect human beings. You can eat all the right things and do all the right things and be blindsided by a baby who doesn’t fit the norm. And we don’t prepare people for it at all. I believe our society, by its laws and practices, frowns upon bringing unhealthy, imperfect children into our circle. Because we place “healthy” on a pedestal and our culture worships perfect. Not only should that child be whole and without defect, but she had better be a star athlete and he had better be top of his class. Babies form in the womb and surprise us all. Sometimes the “perfect, healthy” baby isn’t. And she is still worth the same. Her worth is unmatched. And I can’t explain all of this to this frightened, pregnant stranger, but her baby is worthy. No matter what happens, that baby’s life is worthy. Boy or girl. Uneventful natural birth or emergency c-section. Home after two days or in the NICU. Or never going home at all. I believe that baby deserves a chance. That imperfect baby, who will surprise you 100 times a day. That baby may be healthy. That baby may have birth trauma. That baby may get cancer at age 6. Or 36. But, Mama, I believe that baby is a miracle, that all babies are miracles. Don’t fret about the future, but don’t buy into the lie that you can control it either. None of us can. Control and healthy and perfect and viable are illusions. Leave this Sonic playplace and buy something fun for your baby. You won’t regret it. I never regretted buying hair bows and frilly socks for Adelaide. We still buy those things. Plus seizure medication and wheelchairs. Enjoy the little things and don’t fret. But somewhere in the back of your mind, remember your baby is sugar and spice and everything nice, and an imperfect human with immeasurable value and worth. Don’t ever think he’s less because he’s imperfect. Or that she’s more because she’s healthy. Just remember you’re carrying a miracle. Follow this journey on Little House in the City.

Lyndse Ballew

Mother Feels Like a Wallflower in the Special Needs Community

I will never forget sitting with our neurologist in one of a dozen identical rooms with that geometric wallpaper following a chair rail around the perimeter. All three campuses have that same paper and somehow incorporate it into remodels and new construction. The design looks like something from my childhood. Do they have a stockpile? Do they special order it? He asked about my daughter Adelaide’s new words since our last appointment. As we started listing off the new words and how they sound, his face stayed compassionate. But I could see what he was thinking behind his eyes. Twenty-something slurred attempts at words that may or may not even have meaning to her. In six months. “Mama, she does well for being nonverbal.” Nonverbal? Suckerpunch. But she counts and sometimes mimics and says, “Eat!” But I already knew she was nonverbal. I just wasn’t using the word. I had intentionally not even whispered the label. It was like getting the wheelchair. An admission of something I was secretly hoping would change overnight. When we were wheelchair shopping, I actually said to my husband Dave, “We don’t need to get something that grows with her. She’s only going to use this for a short time. She’s not going to need it long-term.” And Dave gave me the same look. The “oh honey” look. He put his arms around me and I just stayed there, finally admitting what I knew was true. “She may never walk. And if she doesn’t, I should get a chair that can grow with her.” And I found a chair, since we had to pay out-of-pocket anyway, that could grow with her until she hits double digits. And then even strangers asked, “Does it grow with her?” and my answer of, “Yes, it does. We were blessed to find one,” rolls off my tongue, while my brain shouts, Can’t anyone else believe with me that she won’t always need it?! We started learning sign language before Adelaide was called “nonverbal.” As I bought DVDs, books and flashcards, I kept saying, “She’ll talk someday. We are learning sign language for a season. A short season.” Then I posted in a Facebook thread about Adelaide being nonverbal and someone responded that she wasn’t truly nonverbal because she says some words. I deleted my comment and instantly felt like I was without a camp. My daughter doesn’t talk. She occasionally says things she hears. She sometimes lets me know what she needs. But she talks less than her baby sister does. She isn’t verbal, but she isn’t nonverbal to a community of women who will never hear “Mama.” And I have heard it. A message from a woman I had never met confirmed our outlier status. “Don’t say Adelaide is nonverbal. My son has never said one word. He has never said my name. He is truly nonverbal. I read your ‘blog’ and saw that Adelaide talks. You don’t belong here.” Her choice of punctuation around the word blog was the cherry on top. We don’t belong anywhere. Adelaide uses a wheelchair, but she can crawl. She is nonverbal, but she says “Hi!” She uses a bottle, but she holds it herself. She can count by 10s to 100, but she won’t stop trying to eat stuff out of her diaper. For now, we are part of the sign language community. Even though Adelaide has minimal hearing loss. We invest daily in learning signs. Practicing our alphabet. Finger-spelling. Because we don’t know if Adelaide will always be nonverbal, but she is now. And has been for three years. We have a substantial library of sign language resources and have invested in new materials every tax return. We also used our tax return money to buy our long-term wheelchair. And that’s our season. Buying things we may need for one year or a lifetime. And we are special needs wallflowers. Up against that outdated wallpaper. But still making it work. And “blogging” about every awkward step. Follow this journey on Little House in the City.

Lyndse Ballew

To the People Who Tell Me I Caused My Daughter's Disability

One of the toughest and funniest and scariest parts of writing is the feedback. When I started this journey, I was documenting everything for people who wanted to keep up with my daughter, Adelaide’s, special needs. Mostly friends and family. It branched out from there, but I was still getting free therapy from sharing her journey. I needed it. But then feedback happened. Comments were made. I received messages. I didn’t make it a habit to respond to negative things, because I didn’t need to waste my time with complete strangers who thought I potty trained incorrectly, blasted me for not using government resources or accused me of wasting water by washing my cloth diapers. But the negative comments and messages increased as I wrote more and was shared a bit. Then, there were comments that actually made me stop and feel emotions. Anger. Sadness. Confusion. The comments about a cure were difficult to stomach. There is no cure for polymicrogyria (PMG). Nothing. Not one thing can fix Adelaide’s brain. But it didn’t keep people from offering a cure. Or offering a reason why they thought I had caused this. Because that is always helpful… telling a mother you think she injured her own child in the very place that can grow and nurture a defenseless human. I was told I had caused Adelaide’s disability. Strangers began sending articles, “facts” and random statistics. I did it by eating food covered in pesticides. By eating unprotected organic food. Too much sugar. Not enough faith. Working out during my first trimester. Too much sex. Not enough vitamins. I was given cures. Ways to repair a brain that is actually missing matter. Wear magnetic bracelets. Believe more. Cut her protein. Increase her time in the sunlight. Talk to her in a baby voice. “I sell essential oils. I just know we have an oil to cure your daughter’s brain. You may have caused it by drinking diet soda. Let me know if you want to buy the oil.” “PMG has no cure. Adelaide’s folds in her brain cannot be changed. If your oil could cure her, I believe her neurologist would’ve given you $35 and delivered it to us himself. He loves her that much. Your essential oils can’t cure PMG.” “The oil is actually $40. I think you should try it. You could totally be an oily mama!” This isn’t a post about essential oils. I won’t share my opinions here, and I am asking you to also check your opinions at the door. Rather, it’s a post about feedback. And writing. I would’ve protected myself from this hurtful encounter if no one actually knew about Adelaide. Her community is very small anyway, but something I wrote about her traveled out across the Internet and placed a target on me. I placed it on myself. I wrote down my thoughts, and someone used them against me in a pretty dubious way. I am like a pendulum — always swinging from shutting down the blog to seeking bigger opportunities. My fear of rejection and feedback makes the first option seem so attractive. But then I blast my thoughts and our story into the darkness, and one person will say thank you for words she needed at 4:00 a.m. The words I penned at 2:00 a.m. when I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t even tell you what my heart was crying. And I don’t know the balance between writing for myself and writing for others. I just know that I need to write… no matter who is reading it. I want to stay Lyndse, the blogger behind “Little House In The City.” I like her. Whether or not she caused her daughter’s disability. A version of this post originally appeared on Little House In The City. The Mighty is asking its readers the following: What’s one secret about your or your loved one’s disability and/or disease that no one talks about? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook . And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night .

Lyndse Ballew

The First Time I Saw My Daughter in a Wheelchair

Thursday was the big day. I actually thought we were just measuring my daughter, Adelaide, so I mentally prepared for her being fussy while I answered a bunch of questions about what she can and can’t do. I physically prepared by bringing snacks upon snacks. I wore my favorite scarf because it makes me feel gorgeous. But then he said, “I brought  a chair  for her to try out. The vendor dropped it off. It’s too small for her, but you can see  what we are looking at for Addie .” I responded with the fakest enthusiasm I could muster. I was not ready to see Adelaide in the chair, all strapped in and not walking. I was all smiles and overly positive. “Awesome. This is great. You’re such a big girl. This is great! What fun! Look at you, so big in that chair! This is so great!” The moment I’d been dreading for more than two years was here, and I was not ready. I felt like I’d given up our dream of walking. And then I felt guilty because we have friends whose children will never walk. And so what? What if Adelaide never walks? The world doesn’t end. I realized that I’ve placed some finish line in my mind. Like walking is the end-all milestone. Like walking validates all the therapy. Like walking makes up for everything she can’t do. But it’s just motion. It’s not a measure of her life. Or her impact on everyone around her. But the chair, it will improve all our lives. We’ll be able to go places that can’t accommodate her stroller. Adelaide will be able to sit at tables when we go to Chick-fil-A. She’ll be able to see things from a different vantage point. She will, hopefully, be able to steer it herself and have some independence. And maybe we will get to experience Adelaide walking, and maybe we won’t. If we do, we’re having a bumblebee party.  A huge party . But I’m done fixating on bipedal locomotion. Adelaide is more than legs. And she deserves a mom who believes in her but sees walking for what it is: a skill. And a wheelchair for what it is: a tool. This post originally appeared on TheBallews.com. Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook . And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night .

Lyndse Ballew

What I See When I Look at My Undiagnosed Daughter

Adelaide is unique. Of course, every child is unique. We learn this in kindergarten as we cut folded-up pieces of paper into snowflakes and listen to a story about how we’re all different and special and bring our own flare to the world. But Adelaide is heartbreakingly unique. My pregnancy was normal. Our ultrasounds were textbook. Her scheduled December C-section was uneventful. Her hospital tests were unremarkable. She was a quiet, happy baby who latched her first feed and did everything according to schedule. There were a few hiccups along the way, but she was a sweet, content baby. She was slower than her big brother with milestones, but that was just her laid-back personality. My two little snowflakes. But, almost overnight, we went from normal to taking-her-time-with-things to there-is-something-very-wrong. The whole world stops when you start hearing words. Frightening words. Non-verbal. Bilateral frontal polymicrogyria. Wheelchair. Mega cisterna magna. Hypotonia. Physical therapy. Thinning corpus callosum. Drool bibs. Unknown life expectancy. Colpocephaly. Seizures. No cure. Hearing loss. Flattened pituitary. Leg braces. Vision deficit. And you see a snowflake cut-out hanging up in a children’s hospital and think, “She was supposed to be unique like a snowflake. Not the kind of unique that makes doctors say they have no answers, that they have never seen another child with her mix of brain abnormalities. Mix. Like a blizzard. I’m in a blizzard now. Lord, please lead the way.” More than two years after her first MRI and genetic tests, Adelaide still can’t be diagnosed. There is no hyphenated name for whatever happened to her DNA. There are no indicators of future progress. She is completely unique. Her snowflake has an abnormal pattern. Her brain has an abnormal pattern. She does everything on her own timeline. This child who came into the world at exactly 8 a.m. and nursed every three hours on the clock now sets her own schedule. Some days, she defies what doctors thought possible. Other days, she makes no progress at all. A unique mix. Drifting where she pleases and causing me to stop in my tracks every day and marvel at her rare beauty. Gorgeous and breathtaking from the moment she was born one December morning. Read more from this journey on Little House in the City. For all of January, The Mighty is asking its readers this question: If you could go back to the day you (or a loved one) got a diagnosis, what would you tell yourself? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please  include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook . And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night .

Lyndse Ballew

What Special Needs Parents Know About Their Children’s Hospital

1) You know where the nearest children’s hospital is no matter where you are in your state, country or continent. 2) You know exactly how many gallons of gas it takes to get to your hospital. 3) You know which gas stations on the way to your hospital are safe for potty breaks, diaper changes, bottle refills and Diet Coke refills. 4) You know which fast food places on the way to your hospital are the cleanest/freshest/nicest/quickest/have the best ice. 5) You know exactly how many minutes it takes to get from your driveway to your children’s hospital parking garage. 6) You know which level of the hospital’s parking garage you will be parking in based on time of day, day of the week and season. 7) You know exactly how long it will take you to park in the hospital’s parking garage, unload, take the elevators, find a bathroom to change your child out of pajamas into real clothes (or another set of pajamas) and still get to your appointment 15 minutes early. 8) You know you get fewer stares at your hospital than at any other place. You feel normal as soon as you walk through the doors. 9) You know exactly how long it takes to get from one of your hospital’s campuses to any of the others. 10) You know exactly how early the hospital security guards will let you into the cafeteria when they’re supposed to make you wait for the official outpatient time. 11) You know all the best waiting areas to watch Nick Jr. shows on your computer until you can get into the next waiting area. 12) You know where to find the largest bathrooms. 13) You know where to find the smallest bathrooms. 14) You know which food is offered at mealtimes all day and on special days and how much it costs. 1 5) You know which specialists at your hospital want your co-pay at checkin vs. checkout. 16) You know the exact order of the checkin questions and look psychic in the eyes of the newest person at the register desk. 17) You know all your techs and nurses by name… and you know their kids’ names. 18) You know which parent is there for the first time and needs reassurance, directions to the nearest bathroom, cafeteria recommendations and a hug. 19) You know which hospital snack cart has the best treats. 20) You know to pack an outpatient bag, inpatient bag and overnight bag. Just in case. 21) You know which hotels near your hospital are the best fit for your child’s needs and which ones let you take extra continental breakfast in your purse. 22) You know your time at the hospital will cost you a hefty amount. 23) You know it’s always worth it if your child is well cared for. 24) You know your child is loved. P.S. Thank you to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City (all campuses) for your dedication and service. This post originally appeared on Little House in the City. Want to celebrate the human spirit? Like us on Facebook . And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night .

Lyndse Ballew

When Our Support Group Gave Us the Gift We Wouldn't Ask For

I’ve been wanting to write about this for almost two months, but the words never seem quite right. It was exactly 34 hours after I stood in our kitchen and cried to my husband, Dave. I felt like no one understood our struggle. No one read our blog. No one cared about our daughter, Adelaide, or her future. They were not true words at all. It was just how I felt. And he let me cry before saying, “What if they don’t? What if no one does care about Adelaide? What if no one reads anything you write? It doesn’t matter. We love her. God loves her. That matters.” He was right, and I knew it. I was sleep-deprived and experiencing what all special needs moms feel, even if they never admit to it. And I don’t really want to admit to it either, but I promised myself I would always be honest in my writing. These words will serve as reminders to me in the future. These posts may help someone else in the same situation. No one ever faces the exact same things we do because Adelaide is a human being with her own struggles and accomplishments. And we have yet to find another person with her unique blend of abilities and weaknesses. But me, I’m just like so many other moms. And I was being a crybaby in our kitchen. Sunday morning, the class was passing a card of sympathy for a woman in our group who just lost her mother. That’s what I assumed; I thought nothing else of it until the card made its way to my friend and she didn’t hand it to me. She must have had a reason. No big deal. I figured I’d sign it during the fellowship time. At the end of class, she pullled out the card, and I saw my family’s names. I saw the word “UpSee.” I saw a dollar sign. I turned to Dave and whispered, “Oh crap. Our name is on it.” Yep. One of the most touching moments of my life. Some of my dearest friends were gifting us an Upsee — something that had been on the wish list for what felt like a century. And I whispered something so dumb. Because Dave and I aren’t good at accepting gifts. We never have been. We were awkward and didn’t know what to do. I took the card and everyone was saying the sweetest things and I just knew they were all thinking I would say something tender or eloquent or even half-intelligible. All I could do was cry. Conviction. That’s what I was thinking. Just two nights before I was saying that no one cared. And here these people had sacrificed — $500 from a dozen families. That is sacrifice. And I felt so wrong for even taking it. We have so many needs in our group. But I took the envelope filled with cash. They explained they were going to order the UpSee but couldn’t get the measurements right. They wanted to surprise us with the actual product but didn’t want to mess it up. I was still speechless and wondering how I was going to thank these people. Dave and I knew our LifeGroup had given us one of the best gifts we could ever imagine. Not just something Adelaide could use, but the hope that we aren’t invisible. Of course, that is the irony, isn’t it? As special needs parents, we want to be invisible. We don’t want attention on us. We want people to see our kids and how they’re progressing. We want people to pray for our children. Healing for things we’re told will never change. Wisdom for all the people who care for our little ones. Strength for everything they face. Provision for the never-ending bills. But we don’t really want people to look us in the eyes and ask how we’re doing. Or meet a need we weren’t even sure we needed met. We wanted to thank them, but nothing seemed fitting. So we sent a card and a photo of Adelaide. And I felt like I’d fallen short in the reciprocity category. But deep, deep down I knew they wanted nothing else. I thought about treats or coffee or even flowers. None of it seemed right. These people have been with us throughout our entire journey. We joined our LifeGroup right before Adelaide was diagnosed as being undiagnosable. They prayed over us as we were told that she may have a cyst and require neurosurgery. They prayed for every step of our journey through two different neurologists on opposite sides of the state. And the whole time they kept asking what they could do. Babysit? Meals? Gas money? We, of course, refused anything. That’s just how we are. But they kept asking. So, one summer, they just did what they knew was right and didn’t ask. And here is the fruits of their labor. Their sacrifice. Their gift. Adelaide walked for the very first time on July 15, 2014. This post originally appeared on Little House in the City. For all of December, The Mighty is celebrating the moments we gave or received a gift that touched our lives in a special way. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post describing this moment for you. Include a photo and 1-2 sentence bio to community@themighty.com .Hint! Some gifts don’t come in packages. Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook . And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night .