Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Does equal treatment of people with intellectual disability mean slamming them on Facebook?

The woman posted the seemingly innocent comment in our local Facebook group: Wouldn't it be great if a Cracker Barrel opened in our area? It would bring in business. She asked what others thought.

Cracker Barrel is pretty divisive because of its history of discrimination, and the fact that some consider its food gross. Group members did not hold back. Among the more tame comments:
"Yuck" and "A vomitorium of yucks" and "Is this a joke?" and "Booo." There was snark: "How about they open a strip club called The Chick Barrel?" and "Ha! Hahaha! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!" and "How does admin even allow this obscene post?" And there was annoyance: "Ewww the suggestion itself is disgusting" and "This may be the worst idea since an unnamed politician tried to put up a KFC."

Some people were for the idea. A few suggested an alternate, more commercialized location. Yet others were more interested in bringing a Waffle House to town. As is typical on Facebook, people spoke up bluntly.

The woman's Facebook photo looked vaguely familiar. I checked out a few posts on her page and sure enough, I'd met her at a fair. She has mild intellectual disability.

I felt a flash of anger toward the people who were ripping apart her suggestion. I tagged her in a comment, telling her that I understood liking that food (their biscuits are tasty) and that she probably wasn't aware of their history of discrimination. I suggested a good local Southern place.

Still, I bristled. I wanted the group to know that they were dealing with a person with ID, and that they shouldn't go off on her.

The post racked up 198 comments, including a followup from the woman. "Never knew about the discrimination they have," she wrote.

I went to sleep all riled up. Then it occurred to me: If people had treated her gingerly and refrained from being their usual opinionated/obnoxious selves, then she wouldn't have been treated like an equal.

I wondered if this woman felt taken aback or offended. I hoped that she was used to how things went in the group, and that she knew it was just business as usual. I thought about Max. He may require special accommodations at times, but in general, I want him treated the same as other people, sans the kid gloves. That would mean, in essence, that when and if he is ready to post his opinions in such a group, he'd need to be prepared for people's assorted reactions.

For now, I would not subject Max to online communities, unless I found ones with other teens who have intellectual disability. I let Max make as many decisions as possible, but as his parent, I know this is the right Internet security for him. If he were in some sort of teen group with typically developing peers and he posted something like "I love fire trucks!" I can easily see him getting flamed. The relative anonymity of these groups means that people do not know who they are interacting with, a negative for a teen like Max.

But if someday he is ready to face the opinionated masses on Facebook or the social media of his choice, well, I'll be all for it.

Monday, June 18, 2018

There is no age limit on pretend play

Two of my children were driving the other day. Max was steering the minivan as Ben maneuvered a pirate ship in our foyer. They're thirteen years apart and yet, pretend play is important for both of them.

Max has been driveway driving for years now. Sometimes, I sit in the passenger seat and he takes me to pretend places. His destination of choice is always Orlando, where he plans to move to. (I don't consider his constant discussions about moving there imaginative, because he has pretty much convinced himself that he is going to live there.) Another favorite play activity: listening to fire truck videos on YouTube and making a siren sound along with them. Several years ago, one of Max's occupational therapists used to engage him during sessions by getting him to put out fires.

Ben likes to lie on floor and roll around his pirate ship, his toy trucks and cars, water bottles, whatever. He does this at home, and at restaurants we're at, too. "Here comes the tunnel!" he'll proclaim. "Beep! Beep! I'm coming!"

Experts say imaginative play is a critical part of child development. It enhances thinking skills and creativity. It can increase language usage. When children use toys for scenarios involving other people, it can help boost communication, problem solving and empathy. Pretend play also builds confidence because children discover they can be who they want to be and do what they want to do just by pretending.

At fifteen years old, Max is still developing, and pretend play is as good for him as it is for his little brother. I realize that most boys his age are gearing up to get a driver learner's permit. I'm not sure if driving is in the cards for Max. But when he's behind the wheel in our driveway, he is in control and loving life.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Disability Blogger Weekend Link-up means it's time to share a post

What to do if you're new here

This is a place to share a recent favorite post you've written, or read. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post you want to share (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: The invisible labor dads of children with disabilities do

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The invisible labor dads of children with disabilities do

Moms tend to take credit for a whole lot. This is because we do a lot. Me, I am the person who basically keeps our household running, who clothes our children and schedules their appointments, activities and carpools, who organizes their school stuff and so much more, as I detailed last Mother's Day. Research, in fact, found that women handle the bulk of intellectual, mental and emotional labor of childcare and household maintenance—so-called invisible labor.

Of course, this isn't true of all parents—especially those who are raising children with disabilities. Dave and I are equally likely to pitch in with the physical, emotional, social and mental care of Max. And I will admit that Dave doesn't always get full credit from me, or society, for all that he does as the father of a son with disabilities.

Dave may not know Max's shoe size, but he is there to slip Max's orthotics on his feet in the morning. Dave may not know all the teachers' names, but he is always there to work with Max on writing up his weekend news report. He may not notice when Max is almost out of toothpaste or shampoo, but he helps with showering. This, too, is invisible labor. Where's the documented proof of that?

And then, there are the unique responsibilities that come with raising a child who has intellectual disabilities or autism. This can involve anything from listening to a child perseverate on a topic; indulging fixations with Minecraft, car washes, fire trucks, trains, traffic lights, bus timetables or just about anything; and generally catering to that child's unique psychological makeup.

Keeping children with disabilities calm, content, comforted, occupied and happy is a unique kind of mental and emotional care—one that our culture largely fails to acknowledge dads do. 

In our family,  there is one significant responsibility that Dave handles weekly: a trip to Home Depot to shop for the fantasy house Max wants to buy.

When we visited Jamaica in December, Max got it into his head that he was moving there. Once we returned from our trip, he found a beautiful house online that he informed us he was moving to. Then he and Dave went on an errand to Home Depot one weekend, and Max decided to pick out appliances for his fancy new house. After that, Max wanted to visit Home Depot every single week.

Although Max has recently changed his fantasy destination to Orlando, Florida, his HD visits remain the same. First, he grabs one of those carts that looks like a car and pushes it over to Appliances. He gazes fondly upon his objects of desire, including a Samsung refrigerator with a screen that shows the interior of the fridge and a Whirlpool microwave. He hits the flooring department to ogle dark brown tile that looks like wood. He hasn't yet decided on cabinetry or a washer/dryer (tough choices, to be sure). He notes that he is going to need a very large moving truck, as evidently he would like to support our local Home Depot and stock up his future Florida home there.

Dave typically takes Max to HD on Sunday evening, after the two of them put out the recycling. Sometimes, Ben comes along. It's never me that Max wants, just Dave. Are there any other number of things Dave would rather be doing than wandering around the appliance area? Um, yeah. But he knows that Max loves these trips. And so, week after week, he heads to Home Depot, without complaint.

I may keep up with a whole lot of to-dos, yet Dave puts a lot of time and effort into an equally important one: keeping Max happy, whether he's taking him to Home Depot, playing kickball in our backyard, unrolling the avocado roll at the sushi restaurant and mashing it up so Max can eat it, letting Max sit in his car and pretend to drive it or typing up a list on Max's iPad of what he'll do at Disney World when he hopefully-soon-pretty-please gets to go there again. Keeping our children happy is, perhaps, the ultimate to-do. It's a form of labor invisible to most everyone but me (and the Sunday staff at Home Depot).

In absence of a Father's Day card that reads, "I love you for taking our son on joy trips to Home Depot every single week," I'll just proclaim my appreciation. Here's to you, love, and all the dads out there for all that you do for our children. Maybe we moms don't say it enough, if ever. Perhaps we get on your case too much about not putting your dirty clothes in the hamper or leaving empty milk cartons in the fridge. But we appreciate you. We need you. Our children need you. And we are all are so very lucky to have you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

On trying to be a superhero to your children: Max sees Incredibles 2

I am a crappy mother. Why? Because I insisted that Max see a screening of Incredibles 2, even though he resisted. Only now he's saying it's his new favorite movie.

Like me, Max loved The Incredibles. He's been watching sneak peeks of Incredibles 2 since the official trailer came out on YouTube in April, and literally counting down the days till its opening this Friday. And so, last month I reached out to a contact at Disney•Pixar I'd met years ago at a conference, and asked if there might be a screening we could attend. There was—on Monday.

I was gleeful when I announced this to Max.

"No!" said he.


"Max, don't you want to see Incredibles 2 first, before everyone else?"

"I said no!" 

The thing is, Max had his own plans to see it. He was going to head to New York City, sleep over at my sister's house and hit the theater with her and my niece. And when his school offered an afternoon trip to see it next week, Max wanted to sign up for that, too. So in his head, he was already set. And my exciting offer to see it in preview just wasn't so exciting for him, although Sabrina was seriously psyched. 

You'd think I'd know better by know than to project my own idea of fun onto Max. A preview! Of a major movie! How could he resist?! Sometimes, though, you get so excited by the idea of surprising your children that you push reality aside. And the reality of how Max's brain usually works is this: he creates plans, then sticks with them. And seeing the movie before it opened wasn't part of his plan.

I kept asking Max if he was sure he didn't want to go. He didn't. I was bummed. Lately, though, Max's mindset has become a little more flexible. I wondered whether he would change his tune, and sure enough, last weekend he did. Y-e-s, he wanted to go.

And off we went on Monday night to an AMC 30 minutes away. Max wanted to sit next to Sabrina, not me (#teen). He giggled throughout the movie, especially in scenes involving Jack-Jack; the baby reminded us all of Ben (well, other than his ability to transform himself into a fireball). When the family got a new place, Max leaned over excitedly to say "They moved!" because he wants to move (to Orlando).

The plot was amusing, clever and grip-your-seat thrilling. The characters were funny and relatable. Helen Elastigirl Parr was her usual feisty self. Bob Mr. Incredible Parr took a turn as a pooped out stay-at-home dad when Helen got an Elastigirl gig. (Sabrina and I both poked each other when, as Bob struggled to help son Dash with homework, he griped about how math isn't done like it used to be—that's our story, too.) Frozone was around, with his off-the-camera wife giving him her usual earful. My favorite character, Edna Mode, babysat Jack-Jack and made him a cool costume. Together, the family fought evil, continuously sparring over who should hold Jack-Jack as they zoomed around.

When the movie ended—and it was so good none of us wanted it to end—Max reminded me that he was going to see it two more times! In the car ride on the way home, he and Sabrina named their superpowers. Max said he was strong. Sabrina said she could text with amazing speed. I decided to not ask what they thought mine was, because Sabrina would have surely said "nagging."

We talked about what happened in the movie, and Max kept saying a word I didn't understand. Then I got it. Some people in the movie (non-spoiler alert) had come under a spell, and Max was saying they'd gotten sick and then better. That was his understanding, and that's the magic of movies like this: they can work on many levels. Then Max again pointed out that the family had moved to a really big new house, and he was also going to move to a big house in Orlando, and he threw up his arms for emphasis.

"Good movie!" Max said. He again noted he'd be seeing it two more times.

"Aren't you glad I kept asking you to go?" I asked.

"Yeah!" he said.

And I felt super-satisfied.

Image source: Pixar

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Including children with disabilities: This teacher hiked with her student on her back

How to enable a little girl with cerebral palsy to participate in her class's two-day camping trip? Chicago special ed teacher Helma Wardenaar was determined to find a way and boy, did she ever.

She'd been working with Maggie since kindergarten, reports ABC 13 News. Maggie uses a walker or a wheelchair, neither of which was a realistic option for hiking. "We thought it was super important for her to be there and be able to do everything the other students were doing," said Helma, director of student services at the Academy for Global Citizenship.

Helma set her mind to figuring out a solution. She considered borrowing a friend's pony for Maggie, but was told they weren't allowed in the forest. She checked out backpack and carrier options at REI, but found no good options. A wheelbarrow? Nope, not sturdy enough.

Then she got a call back from the REI staffer, who'd found a new backpack-like carrier called the Freeloader, which holds children between 25 and 80 pounds. Lacking a school budget for such things, Helma paid for one out of her own pocket. And then, she toted Maggie around on the trip as the class did the sort of stuff kids do on hikes: identify birds, check out animal tracks and look for beaver dams.

Carrying around a 62-pound child on trails is no mean feat, but Maggie helped. "When she noticed I was huffing and puffing, she even gave me a little massage on my neck," said Helma. "Then she started singing as a distraction."

We've all met teachers who have gone above and beyond, but this one's willingness, determination and selflessness stand out. Too often, our children with disabilities aren't able to participate in events and activities because people can't envision a way to include them—or aren't willing to. Inclusion is half mindset, half figuring out the logistics. Here's to teachers who make things happen for our children. Helma Wardenaar, the world needs more people like you.

Image: ABC 13 video

Monday, June 11, 2018

Living his best life

When Max was a newborn, his neurologist told us to expose him to as expose him to as many experiences as possible to help expand his mind. This was challenging when he was little, because his sensory issues made him afraid of crowds, noise and new places. Yesterday, it was clear just how far Max has come. 

All morning, he kept saying he wanted to go to New York City. On his wish list: a visit to a fire station, and steak. His usual preference is Dave for these joy trips, but Dave was zonked. So: Mommy and me it was. I booked a reservation at a steakhouse and off we went. The train ride there alone was a thrill.

Max was in charge the second we stepped foot in Manhattan. He directed us to the local fire station, where we met Firefighter James. When he asked me how old Max was, I said, "Ask him!" and he did. Max made conversation: He noted his plans to move to Orlando, because Disney World is there. He asked James if he'd been to Disney World. He asked if there had been any fires that day. 

After Max and I walked a few blocks, he asked to take the bus uptown. I hadn't realized that the Puerto Rican Day Parade was happening, and when our bus got rerouted we got off to check it out. But first, Max spotted a few fire trucks on a street investigating a smoke situation. Bonus!  

As we watched the parade, Max waved at the people on the floats. He asked if he could be in the parade, and I said those people had permission. He accepted that, notable for the lack of resistance. 

Meanwhile, Max decided he needed a haircut before his steak extravaganza, so I googled a barber shop by the restaurant. We took a taxi there (Max hailed it), and he sat still for the better part of a half hour as the stylist lopped off his mop. This, too, was major progress—haircuts used to make him wail. 

Max looked pretty suave when we arrived at the restaurant. He ordered creamed spinach and mashed potatoes with his steak. I cut it up into pieces and he dug in, happily. We chatted about the end of school and summer. "When You Wish Upon a Star" came on the instrumental music playing in the background, and his face lit up. Then the waiter gave me a glass of Pinot Grigio on the house. Bonus!

It was a great day, and not because of any planning I did—it was all Max. As is often the case, there was an extra layer of awesomeness because I was so aware of Max's progress and maturity. 

As we walked around, I'd held onto his arm, in part because I wanted to make sure he didn't trip. He's pretty steady on his feet but uneven pavement can mess up his balance. At some point, Max broke free. "No, thanks!" he said. And we walked on, just any mom and teen enjoying a day together.

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Disability Blogger Weekend Link-up: Join the crowd

What to do if you're new here

This is a place to share a recent favorite post you've written, or read. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post you want to share (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: There's nobody missing from this prom photo

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A student with autism couldn't attend graduation, so they brought graduation to him

High school senior Jordan Smith was ready to graduate from Spalding High School in Griffin, Georgia. Because he has autism and sensory issues, and crowds and loud noises freak him out, his family decided he should skip the ceremony, reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution. But his teacher, Dana Jett, had other ideas: She organized a private ceremony for him. As she said, "Jordan's effort, hard work and perseverance are worthy of recognition."

As a parent of a child with sensory issues, I was touched by what this teacher did for her student. As a parent of a young adult, I also hope she OK'd it with him and involved him in the planning. Otherwise, this ceremony would have only had meaning to the people who put it together, pretty much defeating the seeming purpose of it. That's not accommodating, it's exclusionary.

Max has been the beneficiary of much goodwill over the years. But as he's getting older, I've become aware that he should have a say in how he is treated in matters big and small. Last week, before prom, a nurse at his school emailed me telling to send in Max's adaptive cup and utensils. Pretty standard. I asked Max if that's what he wanted; he can drink out of standard cups and use standard spoons and forks, and I thought that he might just want to do that at prom. He did want to bring in a paper cup, but he wanted to use the utensils there. This wasn't such a big deal, but that didn't matter; he deserved to decide.

Me, I've struggle with well-meaning gestures, like when that woman at Dunkin Donuts gave him free donuts. I don't want people to do things out of Max's disabilities, because they are not to be pitied. But, heck, if he himself makes a conscientious decision to take those donuts, fine. And if he's offered an accommodation but would rather do his own thing in his own way, even better.

Image: Screenshot/YouTube

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Time is measured in holidays, birthdays and contact lenses

"The days are slow, the years are fast" is one of my favorite book lines ever, from Gretchin Rubin's The Happiness Project. It is so true. The kids' birthdays and holidays make me particularly aware of how quickly they're growing up. Facebook flashbacks, too. With Max, comments from people who haven't seen him in a while make me aware of his development; the consensus is that his speech is getting easier to understand.

And then, there are my contact lenses, the most regular marker of just how fast life goes by. They come 30 to a box. And every single time the box runs empty, I can't believe another month has passed. Wasn't I just grabbing another box yesterday from the closet and putting it beneath the sink?

Women with adult children like to tell me, "Someday, you're going to miss these days!" I get that. I love raising children. (Um, most days?) I love the family life we have. But then, it's hard to imagine I'll ever miss the whirlwind of to-dos, chores, tasks, appointments and staying on top of everyone and everything (see: I am the person who notices we are running out of toilet paper, and I rock). Someone should invent an app that automatically keeps track of all the stuff moms do in a given day so we could hold it up to our darlings and say "SEE?!"

Ironically, keeping up with family duties at times also means I get too busy or distracted to fully savor them. And suddenly, there I am again, breaking open another box of contact lenses. Sabrina is looking more and more like a young adult. Ben is asserting himself in all sorts of new ways. ("No bedtime! I sleep already!") Max has moved on from YouTube fire truck videos to ones of people loading moving trucks (he plans to move to Orlando just as soon as possible).

I haven't found any magic solution to slowing life down. There's definitely no app for that. What does help is conscientiously making myself be present. No thinking about what I have to get done that morning/afternoon/night. No checking email or Insta. Just being in the moment, what shrinks refer to as "mindfulness." It's the core of meditation (something I've always sucked at) but I've found that if I don't put pressure on myself to do it, it happens. Because the last thing I need is another to-do.

Last night, Sabrina, Max and Ben were on the couch, shoving each other and trying to claim their territory. It was hardly a special moment and yet, it became one. Because as I sat there watching them I started thinking how great it was that they more or less got along and how cute they all looked and how happy they were and how lucky I was to have them. And just for a few minutes, time stood still.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

When do you help your child with disabilities interact with other children?

We were at a jam-packed barbecue on the weekend with kids of all ages running around. Some were jumping on pogo stocks. Ben and his little buddies were all over the climbing gym. A few kids were playing with a red wagon on the driveway, and Max got it into his head that he was going to pull a bunch of them around.

One of the kid looked at Max, said "Uh-uh" and jumped out. That left two boys. They looked to be about 8 years old. Max was having trouble moving the wagon off the embankment it was on, and I was worried that the cart was going to overturn. I'd been standing in the background, watching from behind a gate, but I jumped forward and said, "Here, Max, I'll help."

I hadn't wanted to get involved. I wanted Max to interact with these children on his own. As soon as I pulled the wagon forward, I walked back to the gate. But as I watched Max pull the wagon, struggling hard, it started sliding down an incline leading to the road. I didn't want it to go zooming into the street so again, I dashed out of the gate and ran down to stop the cart.

"Maybe this isn't a great way to play, and there's something else you guys can do!" I said. But the two boys climbed out and walked away, leaving me standing there with Max. He said, "Awwww."

I felt awful. And helpless; what should I have done? I wanted Max to be independent, but I didn't want to risk those kids getting hurt. Of course, children playing together unattended can (and do) get their fare share of boo-boos—I just wanted to make sure my teen wouldn't be the cause of that.

Max doesn't often hang with peers his age who don't have disabilities. At gatherings like this, he tends to gravitate toward younger children, who sometimes don't know what to make of him. At our recent neighborhood block party, Max and I met a little boy.

"Why does he talk like that?" he asked as Max stood there.

"People talk in different ways, and that's Max's way of talking—right, Max?" I said. And to the boy: "He does understand what you're saying." Max is nonchalant about exchanges like this. I do my best to facilitate, so that Max is included in the conversation and the child can begin to get to know Max.

Yet conversations are one thing; playing is another. Trying to look-after-but-not-look-like-I'm looking-after Max as he plays with younger children is tricky.

That day at the barbecue, I told Max that maybe he could pull Ben around the wagon. Ben refused to leave the climbing gym but the next day, after I got home from work, we took Ben out in his little car and Max did the pushing. It wasn't the answer I was looking for, but he enjoyed it.

Image: Flickr/James M. Turley

Monday, June 4, 2018

There's nobody missing from this prom photo

Friday night was Max's first prom. He'd been looking forward to it for weeks. "ROM!" he called it (he can't yet say "p's.") The plan was for me to drive him there, walk him in, then leave.

I took a few photos before we left. As Max stood in front of the stairs, they suddenly seemed a little empty. His suit lapel looked a little bare without a corsage pinned to it. Max doesn't know that people take dates to proms, and he didn't seem to care. Me, I get a little melancholy at life milestone moments like these. I rarely have those what-if pangs anymore—as in, what if Max didn't have intellectual disability. But standing in front of the house on prom night and taking photos of him looking so handsome and alone gave me pause.

My head knows not to feel sad that Max doesn't fit into the cultural norms: he has a good life, he is happy, he is content with who he is. My heart, not so much.

When we pulled up to the catering hall, Max spotted his friend J and squealed. I let him out of the car and he ran over and gave her a hug. I parked and found him inside, giving people high-fives left and right. "Are you Max's mom?" two boys asked, and suddenly I understood how celeb handlers felt.

I asked Max to take a photo in front of the Hollywood themed step-and-repeat. A classmate wanted to be in one with him. Right before I took the photo, she kissed his cheek. Max cracked up.

"Did you just kiss Max?!" his teacher asked. Yep, she had. What happens at prom stays at prom!

Then another student approached. "I want to take a picture with Max!" he declared.

Max settled down at the table with his classmates. A waiter set a plate of salad down at his place. I was about to say "He doesn't eat salad!" but I held back. Who wants their mom sending back food at prom?!

I waved goodbye, then hovered outside. I asked a server what was on the menu and she mentioned turkey and roast beef. I requested pasta for Max, since he can't chew that stuff. The principal walked by. "Don't worry, it's a buffet, there's pasta there!" she said. "He'll be fine."

The night ended at 10:30, which is late for Max; he usually crashes around 8. I got there at 10:15 and the principal and assistant principal were sitting outside the room.

"He had the best time!" she told me. I walked in and found Max rocking out on the dance floor, a yellow lei around his neck. He didn't want to leave.

And that was prom, a night filled with friends and fun. It was Max's idea of a great time. And really, that was all that mattered.

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Disability Blogger Weekend Link-up: your posts with the mosts

What to do if you're new here

This is a place to share a recent favorite post you've written, or read. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post you want to share (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: Working moms of children with disabilities and guilt: group therapy

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Adaptive clothes for people with disabilities get sexy


Adaptive clothes can be every bit as haute and hot as styles you'd find on designer runways, as the third annual Design for Disability fashion show recently proved. Held by the Cerebral Palsy Foundation (CPF) in New York City, the event showcased innovations in fit, closures and form. The designers: students from the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.), Pratt Institute and Parsons The New School for Design, who got feedback from CPF and mentorship from Anna Sui. 

The fashions were as functional as they were cool. "It literally put me in the women's shoes to be designing and making this clothing that would be more accommodating but still beautiful,"says Maria Terracina of Pratt, who created the above super-chic jumpsuit. It's modeled by Xian Horn, a woman with cerebral palsy who's a teacher, speaker, beauty advocate and blogger.

"Made out of the Liberty of London fabric, the jumpsuit takes away excess fabric so seated body types don’t struggle with the extra fabric in the back," explains Maria. "It has various options for closures, and a ribbon pull for easier access for people who are unable to grasp the small zipper. The magnets at the bottom and the two-way zip are in place to accommodate anyone with prosthetic legs or leg braces."

Here's a look at some of the other styles that debuted at the show:

Model: Jessy Yates, an actor and performance artist with cerebral palsy
Designer: Richard Jimenez, a junior at F.I.T.
Spandex pants allow for ease of movement around the knee area when shifting from a standing to seated position; pockets over the hip line make for comfy storage of—and easy access to—phones and keys. "It's tough to admit, but it's often hard for people to see past disability," says Jessy. "There are so many misconceptions and misperceptions. What better way to change this than by creating fashion that helps us to see it all differently?"

Model: Jaleesa Graham, a model and actress who's part of Theatre Breaking Through Barriers
Designer: Fisayo Quadri, a junior at Pratt Institute
These high-waisted pants have a wrap-around flap across the top to do up pants with ease.

Model: Peter Torjic, a dancer with CP 
Designer: Daniel Lee, a junior at Parsons
This reversible jacket, with a paisley pattern on one side and denim on the other, buttons up in the front over the waist area—so it avoids bunching up or getting caught in the wheels.

Model: AA Brenner, a playwright, dramaturg and Native New Yorker.
Designer: Kevin Kim, a junior at F.I.T.
A jacket with stretch panels inserted across the shoulders for greater flexibility.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Working moms of children with disability and guilt: group therapy

"I am a mom of a young child with cerebral palsy, and a teacher, " a reader writes. "I love working, and am passionate about my job, although it sometimes has me overwhelmed to the point where I feel like I'm not a good mother or wife. A job opportunity has come up that would require longer hours—I'd be at work from 8 to 5, year round. I'm concerned about my kid being at daycare for most of the day and coming home exhausted. I haven't even taken the job, and already I'm feeling guilty. How do moms of children with disabilities who work full-time deal with the guilt?"

I have been a working mom for as long as I've had kids—that's 15 years now, making me a bona fide pro. While I've had flashes of guilt, especially when I've missed school events because of work or mini milestones, the fact is that we are a two-income family by necessity. My salary helps cover therapies for Max, not to mention, the mortgage payment, keeping our family fed and clothed and All of The Stuff.

When Max was little, work was my therapy. I had a whole lot of anxiety about his development and his future, and my job gave me balance and perspective—which made me a calmer mom. At work, I I still think it does that. Like the reader above, I enjoy my work (I'm a magazine editor). Although I am supporting my family, it's also something that I do for me.

Having a dependable, warm and caring sitter has helped me avoid guilt trips, because I trust that my kids are well cared for. Ours used to sit through therapy sessions with Max. We had notebooks in which the therapists would explain what they'd worked on with Max, and let me and Dave know how to help and enable him. I didn't guilt myself up about not being there for the therapies. I just did the best I could when I was around Max, and took satisfaction in that.

So, that's what's helped with deflecting working mom guilt. As for exhaustion, well, that's just part of the mom gig, whether you work outside of your home or not. Years ago, I left a job that involved late hours, and have been fortunate enough to find a better work-life balance. I try my best to get chores done during the weekday (I've been known to toss in a load of laundry at 10:00 p.m.), so weekends can be mostly fun.

What's been your experience with working mom guilt? What's helped keep it under control?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Guess who marched in our town's parade

I called our local fire station last week and left a message for the chief; Max was hopeful about riding in a fire truck in the town's Memorial Day parade. I didn't hear back, so we stopped by the station early yesterday morning.

I'd told Max I wasn't sure it would happen, but I knew that he thought it would. Flexibility is not one of Max's strengths; when he gets something in his head, he assumes things will go the way he imagined them to. Max even put on his firefighter hat. He stopped wearing it all the time a while ago, and now reserves it for special occasions.

The guys at the station greeted Max by name, and one of them grabbed the chief. "No, sorry, we can't do it because of liability issues," he explained. If the department got a call while the truck was in the parade, it would have to book out of there. Max couldn't be onboard (although it is his ultimate fantasy to zoom to a fire).

"Awwww...." said Max, who got the gist that the answer was "Sorry, bud." I asked if they would honk at him as we watched the parade, and they said yes. These guys are the best; for his twelfth birthday, they gave him a ride in his favorite fire truck to his birthday party. I still watch the video from time to time—Max was so ecstatic.

Not this time. He trudged out of the station, bummed. We grabbed some bagels, then parked at the start of the parade, where the fire trucks were getting ready to roll. Max dashed over and waved hello. Then he spotted our high school's marching band, and got it into his head that he was going to help hold the banner.

"No, Max, you can't do that," I said, as he grasped the banner and the two high schoolers holding the ends of the pole looked on, perplexed.

Max was on the verge of losing it when Dave yanked him away. And then, we spotted the Elks Club crew. Our local lodge is quite amazing. Every year, they sponsor youth with disabilities for a summer camp program, and Max has been a lucky beneficiary for several years now. They also host a great holiday party, and generally know how to have a good time. I spotted my friend Annemarie, a member, and mentioned that Max wanted to march in the parade. And just like that, he was in. When it was the Elks' turn to go, he grabbed hold of the banner.

The two guys holding the banner on either end had a lot of patience, because Max was pulling back on the pole, for support. But on they marched. Max was so excited. Ben was on Dave's shoulders, also quite pleased.

Max walked the entire route, which was about a half mile or so. He kept turning around when the fire trucks honked their horns. At the end, when the trucks pulled up after us, Max dashed over and informed the guys that one of the trucks had a new horn. It turned out the entire truck was new. Max pointed out that the siren was in a different place and that there was a new decal, impressing everyone with his observation of detail.

I was seriously impressed with how the morning had gone. There was huge progress from last year's Memorial Day, when Max lost it at a parade. As we left, Max asked, "Next year?" And then, later in the day, he told me again that he wanted to be in the parade. And he said that he didn't want to ride the fire truck—he wanted to walk.

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Disability Weekend Link-up: Memorial Day 2018 edition

What to do if you're new here

This is a place to share a recent favorite post you've written, or read. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post you want to share (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: The two things I think with every advance for people with disabilities

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

When "He's got a great personality" isn't code for anything

Growing up, saying that someone had a great personality was sometimes code for "She's not so attractive/slim." Then I had Max, and when I heard "He's got a great personality" I took it the wrong way.

As the parent of a child with disabilities, you can get a wee bit protective/defensive/utterly and completely neurotic about how others view them. That partly comes from experience—there are people who fail to see all of Max, including his abilities, and I so want them to. Max's cerebral palsy is just one part of who he is.

For many years, I had a bad stereotype stuck in my head. When Max was a few years old, someone in my family noted that he smiled a lot because he was "simple-minded," a comment that really pained me.

And so, when I'd get those "He's got such a great smile!" comments, I'd feel as if that was the only positive thing people could think to say about him (well, besides how cute he was).

You can never erase experiences or awful things people say, but you can mature as a parent and develop a thicker skin. Max does have a sunny personality and a smile that lights up a room; they're one of the most apparent things about him. Over time, I got past my sensitivity about how people perceived him and learned to take those compliments for what they were: compliments. I also realized that Max's good cheer could encourage people to get better know him. I didn't have to always pave the way for him to connect with people; he had the charm to do it himself. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and one of Max's is his personality.

I was reminded of this recently, during Max's IEP.

"He's always got a smile on his face!" one of his therapists noted, before he walked in.

"Every class needs a Max!" announced a teacher.

And I beamed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Max doesn't need the help, thankyouverymuch

These are two of my favorite videos of Max and Ben.

Ben thought that Max needed help with his homework; Ben is on a campaign to be the boss of us all. So he started to weigh in, and drew Max's finger to the iPad so Max could type the answer. (He uses the SnapType app, which enables users to upload a workpage then type or draw on it.) But then, Max had his say.

I can see Ben starting to figure out that Max can use a little extra help here and there. And I can see Max making it clear that he knows what's up, he's got skills and he's the boss man.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The two things I think with every advance for people with disabilities

The news came out last week that Xbox will debut a controller for gamers with disabilities. As is always the case when there's a new product or service out for people with disabilities, I thought: YEAH! Awesome! As is also typical, my next thought was not as happy.

Microsoft's Xbox Adaptive Controller, which will be released later this year at a price of $99.99, allows users to play in a way that works best for them. It can be mounted onto wheelchairs or tables, it can be played with one hand, or set on the floor so that gamers can use the two large black buttons with their feet. It will be compatible with external joysticks, pedals, switches and buttons. Basically, it does everything a standard controller can do. 

The company consulted with gamers with disabilities during the development process, along with nonprofits including the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, AbleGamers and SpecialEffect. The company built an Inlusive Tech Lab at its Redmond, Washington Lab for testing, according an article in Eurogamer.

Super, of course. But: What took them so long? The Xbox came out in November 2001—that's 16 years ago. Max has been able play games that involve waving his hands, like bowling and tennis. But he can't play any that involve manipulating a controller because it is beyond his capabilities. I'm not saying that years of lost opps for playing video games is a tragedy. As if! This boy does not need any more screen time in his life. But why shouldn't the Xbox be fully accessible to him, same as any teen?

It's been my observation, over the years, that disability innovation at companies happens only if a person at a company is disabled or knows someone with disabilities, or a person with disabilities or a family member takes the initiative. I'm thinking of Tommy Hilfiger's line of adaptive clothing, designed by the awesome Mindy Scheier of Runway of Dreams; the mom of a child with muscular dystrophy, she collaborated with Tommy Hilfiger for his adaptive line. I'm also thinking of David Niemeijer, who created the first speech app Max ever used, the Proloquo2Go, for a friend who was paralyzed from the neck down in a car accident.

And do you remember the story of the teen with cerebral palsy who wrote Nike, in 2012, asking for an sneaker with an adaptive closure because he had trouble tying his? Nike had had already been working on a model with a Velcro closure after their very first employee had experienced a stroke. The FlyEase came out in 2015; Max has a pair. While he can't yet put them on himself, the fact that they unzip in the heel makes it easy to slide his feet right in. Also: They look really cool.

The inspiration for Microsoft's Adaptive Controller, according to DiverseAbility Magazine, came during the company's 2015 One-Week Hackathon for employees. I wonder where that person got the idea from. I don't think this sort of thing should be occur by happenstance; more companies should regularly be encouraging their development staff to think about creating for people with disabilities. They should have entire hackathons devoted to disability, not to mention, dedicated teams.

Don't get me wrong, I am hardly ungrateful for advances that enable people with disabilities to enjoy all that life has to offer. It's just that as the mom of a teen with disabilities, it is frustrating to continuously face a lack of access, the kind not required by law. I mean, come on, Coke and Pepsi: how about a beverage bottle top that a person with fine-motor challenges could open and a bottle that's more grasp-able, too? Or a chocolate bar wrapper that opens super-easily for someone with stiff fingers, Nestlé? Or toys with bigger, easier-to-push buttons and dolls that are easier to dress for kids with disabilities, Mattel? Or adaptive pens, Bic? Or adaptive blazers, H&M? Or a tube of toothpaste my son could open and squeeze, Tom's? I could go on and on.

To be sure, often there are ways to adjust a product so it works for a person with disabilities, as Max's therapists have shown me over the years—a ring pull put on his jacket zipper so he can yank it, putty or rubber tubing placed around a pencil so he can grasp it. Cottage industries have sprung up around enabling devices and gadgets. But how amazing would it be if more products were inclusive to start with so that Max and others like him would feel more part of this world instead of always having to fix—and fight for—things. Yes, adaptations cost money. Yes, people with disabilities deserve them.

There are an estimated 40 million Americans with disabilities, or close to 13 percent of the population. It's been said that people with disabilities are America's largest minority, but the one who get the least amount of attention, consideration and protections. As the parent of a child with disabilities, I am hyper-aware of that. And this is why, each time an advance comes along for people with disabilities, I rejoice even as I feel bummed about how long it took to arrive, and how far we still have to go.

Image: Microsoft

Monday, May 21, 2018

Butterfly therapy

Last week, I had a rare dinner out with friends. The conversation turned gloomy; it had been an awful news week. Another school shooting, with ten dead. A school bus crash in which a student and teacher had died. A plane crash in Cuba, with 100 dead. A mother had jumped off a rooftop in Manhattan, her seven-year-old son in her arms.

Thankfully, there was butterfly therapy at home; we'd gotten an Insect Lore Butterfly Garden. We mailed in the voucher for a cup of caterpillars, watched them grow big and fat off the food in the cup and turn into chrysalises; watched those for a week and a half and wondered if we'd somehow killed them all. And then all last week, we'd wake up to find yet another Painted Lady had emerged. There were four.

All of us were fascinated by the display of nature right there on our kitchen counter. Max named one butterfly Ben, although we we couldn't be sure which one. Ben named one Ben, although we couldn't be sure which one. We watched them flit around the netted habit and drink sugar water out of the feeder. We laughed when a babysitter told us she'd heard a noise in the kitchen and thought someone was in the house; it was the butterflies, fluttering.

And then, it was time to let them go. After Sabrina unzipped the top, just one flew out. I think we were all kind of hoping the others would stick around but of course, soon, they went too. We watched, happily, and life felt a little lighter.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Disability Blogger Weekend Link-up: see it, click it, love it

What to do if you're new here

This is a place to share a recent favorite post you've written, or read. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post you want to share (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: When is it OK to leave your child with disabilities home alone?

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Ben speaks Max

"How are people going to understand you if you don't use your iPad?" I asked Max last night.

"I can talk!" Max said, as he always does.

We were driving home from a school event where he got to paint pottery. He'd chosen a gumball machine, a teacher told me. Except when Max mentioned that in the car, "gumball" was impossible to understand. I told him that I knew what he'd said only because I'd been told.

"Max, you can definitely talk but sometimes the words are not easy for people to understand," I said.

"I hate the iPad!" he responded.

For a while now, Max has been resistant to using his speech app to communicate when he's around us. Max doesn't just want us to understand him, he expects it. And that's a problem, because often his speech isn't that easy to understand. He does vowels pretty well but consonants other than "m," not so much. At times, he gets frustrated with us. At times, I get frustrated with him for refusing to use his speech app, and frustrated with myself for not understanding him. When we reach an impasse, I'll either ask him to verbally spell out the word he's saying or to type it on my phone.

Max has a tendency to repeat things, which comes in handy as once I know how he articulates a word, I know it for good. "I'm moving to Orlando!" is one of his favorite phrases these days. (For the record, he's only moving in his dreams.) And of course, when he declares "I hate you!" to me to be annoying, it's pretty clear.

There is one person in our household who regularly gets what Max is saying. That would be Ben. Dave and I joke that Ben speaks Max. I guess it's like growing up with a second language in your house—it's the most natural thing in the world.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Hot-car deaths: 8 ways to keep your child safe

When Max was a tot, I never heard a peep from the back seat when we were driving. I'd despair about his lack of babbling, as I knew speech was going to be a challenge for him. I never imagined that the silence could endanger his life. Children who are nonverbal or who have intellectual disability are at risk of being forgotten in cars, as babies and sleeping children are—and could die from heatstroke. This is on my mind because of a new awareness initiative from The Weather Channel to prevent hot-car deaths.

Children with disabilities may also have issues with body temperature control, exacerbating the hazards of a burning-hot car. Still, every child who ends up in this situation faces a risk of death. If the temperature outside is 84 degrees, after 10 minutes an interior car temperature can rise to 103 degrees, The Weather Channel estimates; after 30 minutes, it hits 118 degrees (its Scorching Car Scale airs during summer mornings).

Last year, 43 children in this country die from overheating in a vehicle, according to the nonprofit KidsandCars.org. You may wonder how this could happen if a parent is a responsible one. It often occurs when parents bypass their usual routine—say, they don't drop a child off at daycare and drive directly to their office, leaving their little one in the backseat. One of the most insightful and heartbreaking pieces I've read on the topic ran in Parents: You'd Never Forget Your Child in the Car, Right? 

The weather may still be relatively mild in most parts of the country, but it's never too early to be thinking about this. The more safety habits parents get into year-round, the safer children will be. The Weather Channel offers these protection tips:

1. Be extra alert when your routine changes.
2. Leave a toy on the front seat that you'll notice as you park.
3. Place something you'll need in the back seat. Karen Osorio-Martinez—a scientist whose one-year-old, Sofia, died last August in the car Karen had driven to work—just launched a nonprofit to encourage safe habits that can save baby's lives. One of them is "Bag in the Back"—getting in the habit of always putting an essential item like a purse, briefcase, phone, computer or backpack in the back seat, so you'll remember to take your child out.
4. Position a child's car seat in the middle of the back seat so it's easier to see the kid. (I Googled this and surprisingly, the middle of the back seat is consider safer than behind the front seats).
5. Set up a system with your child care provider to confirm if a child was or wasn't dropped off.
6. Check the back seat every time you get out of your car—aka "Look before you lock."
7. Discuss hot car deaths with every person who drives your child.

Another safety measure you can take: Waze has a "child reminder" option you can turn on in "Advanced settings" (under "General") and add a personal message. Each time you arrive at a destination you've entered into the app, the message crops up. My reminder looks like this:

And of course: If you see a child alone in a car, do not hesitate to call 911. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

When is it OK to leave your child with disabilities home alone?

The answer to "When is it OK to leave your child with disabilities home alone?" is, in my heart, "Never ever ever ever." I've worried about Max falling, having a seizure or the house catching fire, among other gloomy scenarios.

But the reality is that Max is getting older and more independent, and he needs to gain confidence about taking care of himself. The other reality is my life as a mom and juggling various responsibilities for each of the kids. Last week, I had an important meeting to attend at Sabrina's school, and Dave was away on business. I've left Sabrina with Ben after he's asleep on occasion. Max has never been at home without me, Dave or a sitter. But there was no sitter to be had. And so, the three of them it was, with Ben asleep, and the house alarm on. I was about fifteen minutes away. In hindsight, I could have consulted with one of Max's doctors—I likely would have felt more reassured.

Sabrina knows to call 911 if Max ever has a seizure or accident. Max himself knows to call 911 in case of emergency. There are neighbors I can text to swing by. Still, my mind was at home during that meeting. Max, already in his pj's, was supposed to head upstairs and get in bed at 8:30 (something else he'd never done on his own). Would he be OK? What would happen if Max and Sabrina started fighting? What if....?

"We're fine!" Sabrina texted. 

I texted back at 8:40: Was Max asleep?



I couldn't get home faster enough to find out the details. But there was nothing to report. Max and Sabrina didn't fight, not even a bit; he watched YouTube videos of fire trucks (his brain-numbing media of choice), she did homework. At exactly 8:30 p.m., Max turned off the TV, walked upstairs, closed the door to his room and went to sleep, like a boss. 

And that was that.

The next morning, I gave Max props.

"You're big now, and you can stay at home with Sabrina, without me—that's great!" I said.

"Next week?" he asked, hopefully—because like any teen, he'd like for his mom to leave him alone. 

It wasn't exactly leaving him home alone, but it was a major baby step. Correction: teen step. It's all step by step. 

One more milestone, aced, for Max and me. 

Image: Hughes Entertainment

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mother's Day, from the mom's point of view

I can't believe I got to sleep in and I woke up at 7:55 a.m. I am just going to lie here and pretend to be asleep so nobody bothers....

HELLO FAMILY! Thank you for the breakfast in bed.

Twenty minutes later: OMG, why does it look like a tornado hit the kitchen when all they did was slice some bagels and smear on cream cheese?! I am so not cleaning up.

"Hey, guys, if you leave dirty dishes in the sink they are not officially cleaned!"

You know, "Percentage-wise the kitchen is much better than it used to look!" does not absolve anyone of the fact that it still looks like a disaster. I am pretty sure that statement would not stand up in court if messy kitchens were, in fact, punishable by law. If only.

Sit at kitchen table as two children draw a card. As in, for me.

Ten minutes later, head back upstairs with plans to take a shower that lasts longer than three minutes. Exciting!



"Hi! Yes, you go pee pee in the potty! Nice job!"

Is it so wrong to wish your family would go away for Mother's Day?

Five whole minutes of solitude to slather on body lotion, moisturize my face and pluck my brows. Squee!

"Can someone get the boys dressed who isn't me? I put out nice clothes for them, I'd like to take pictures on the front stoop."

"Fine, he can wear his Mickey Mouse shirt."

Maybe one of these years I'll take a photo when my hair isn't wet. How is it possible another year has passed since last Mother's Day? The baby looks like a big boy now. Crazy.

Brunch at a nice restaurant. One child refuses to eat, one child eats most of my meal, one child throws most of his food on the floor. Relaxation central!

Return home to find that a butterfly has emerged from one of the cocoons we've kept in a netted habitat for the last week. One child attempts to pass it off as my gift. Nice try.

Play a game, do homework, watch some TV, Dustbust crumbs around entire first floor due to child's love of graham crackers. Child announces she needs a "trifold presentation board" for school project, which is way better than announcing it at 9:20 p.m. once stores have closed, as typically happens. Make joy trip to Staples.

Take kids to local pizza joint for dinner. Spend a disproportionate part of the rest of the evening watching YouTube videos of parents who have surprised their children with trips to Disney World, thanks to one child's obsession/wishful thinking.

Bath time! PJ's! Snack! Different day, same routine.

"I love you!"

"I love you, Mommy!"

"Love you!"

The. Best.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Disability Blogger Weekend Link-up is ready to go

What to do if you're new here

This is a place to share a recent favorite post you've written, or read. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post you want to share (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: To the moms of children with disabilities who push past every no

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

To the moms of children with disabilities who push past every no

To the moms who have heard doctors say the worst about their children—they may not do this, they may not do that or that or that or that—and who repressed those "nots" in their heads and found hopes in their heart.

To the moms who have been told the insurance wouldn't cover the therapy, the device, the piece of equipment—and who made call after call and sent letter after letter and who got the therapy or device or equipment covered.

To the moms who put away the grim medical records and the scary MRI scans and the dismal school reports and who focus on the child in front of their eyes, progressing at their own pace and being their own lovable selves.

To the moms who have been told the doctor/specialist/therapist had no room in their schedule for their child—and who tried, tried, tried again and got their child in.

To the moms who were told their child wasn't ready for the communication device or the speech app and who, determined to enable their child, found ways to get the communication device or speech app to be accessible to their child.

To the moms who were told their children with disabilities couldn't participate in a sports event, a dance class, a camp program—and who figured out a way to make it happen.

To the moms who, when people stare at their children sadly, say, "This is _____, would you like to say hello?" and try to get people to see the abilities.

To the moms who, despite the naysayers, have done the alterna-therapy. Because if it couldn't hurt and it might help, it's worth it.

To the moms who have been told at the IEP that the school couldn't do this and couldn't try that—and who, wait for it, made them happen.

To the moms who have been told their child likely wouldn't make more progress in speech, walking, eating, whatever—and who said "That is N-O-T true" and who found a different doctor, specialist or therapist who could see their child's potential...and whose child kept right on making progress.

Of course, every parent has to be an advocate for their child. But as the moms of children with disabilities, we have extra obstacles to overcome, extra tall buildings to leap over, extra mountains to climb. And while we don't succeed every single time, we never stop trying every single day.

So to the moms who push for, advocate for, argue for, plead for, do everything for their children with disabilities:

Happy Supermoms Day to you.

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