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  • Summer Adventures

    First off… HAPPY 4th of JULY!! Joel has had quite a busy summer. Starting with his graduation, prom, parties… Joel has been having a great time. Earlier last month he went on his annual trip to Lion’s Camp! Sadly I do not have pictures of his trip because he goes off on his own. We used to pack him a disposable camera but all the pictures would come out bad or the camera wouldn’t even be used. Its a whole week of fun and no parents, Joel always comes back so happy. When I ask him what he did, all he tells me is a list of the food he’s…

  • Self-Advocacy & Self-Determination

    We are constantly told that our loved ones with disabilities need to have self-determination and self-advocacy skills. But what does that really mean? Self-determination and self–advocacy are skills that go hand in hand but at times the line of distinction can get blurry. Both share a similar interest: independence! Self-Advocacy: Self-advocacy is an important skill that your loved one with a disability can obtain. Without it, they can often be overlooked, used, or even abused. But what is it? Self-advocacy is the ability to speak up for yourself, knowing your rights, wants and needs, identifying your personal goals and the steps to get there, and being able to communicate them. Not everyone…

  • Graduation?

    If you follow us on social media, then you probably know Joel attended his first regular high school prom and he attended his graduation! Woo-hoo! Prom: Joel is an amazing dancer and loves going to shindings, but we have never let him venture out on his own. He’s gone to special needs proms and dances but my sister and I have always gone with him. I know… I know… special needs proms? What about inclusiveness?!?! Look, I’m all for inclusion, I really am but I’m also for Joel having a good time. Joel loves going to special needs proms and I won’t stop him from going for the sake of inclusion.…

  • Morgan’s Wonderland

    We visited Morgan’s Wonderland two weekends ago. In case you don’t, Morgan’s Wonderland is the only fully inclusive theme park in the world. Sadly, their water park was closed still… huge bummer. I was very impressed with all of the wheelchair accessible swings and rides. But in my opinion, I think they need more rides , but then again who I am I to make such a suggestion. Joel had a great time. He loved the swings with the back support cus lord knows this has no balance. I think his favorite was the Ferris Wheel but he also really liked the jeep ride and the sensory village. He was…

  • Death by Cop

    Ethan Saylor. He was a 26 year-old who had down syndrome. He died five years ago while in police custody. I know I’ve written about it before but I wanted to revisit Ethan’s case. Ethan loved the movie Zero Dark Thirty. He loved it so much that while his caretaker when to get the car after they watched it, he snuck back in without paying. The manager of the theater called the police on him. They did not know how to handle a situation with a person with an intellectual disability. They killed him and no one can convince me otherwise. Ethan loved law enforcement to the point he would…

  • Sheltered Workshops

    I’m not sure how familiar everyone is on sheltered workshops. Simply put, sheltered workshops are a supervised workplace for adults with intellectual disabilities, where the are trained and employed separately from everyone else. People who work in sheltered workshops are typically paid well below minimum wage. The disability community seemed to be divided on whether sheltered workshops should all close down and then there are those who believe in sheltered workshops and would hate to see them closed down. I am not 100% sure where I stand.  Here’s why: According to some people, if sheltered workshops close down, many people with disabilities will have no where to go. They may…

  • Sexual Assault and other Crimes against People with Disabilities

    Crime and discrimination against people with disabilities is a growing problem. What makes it worse is that many incidents do go unreported. Some people refer to this as the silent epidemic because of the inability of most victims to verbalize, to know what is happening, or to have the courage to defend themselves. Reportedly, most abuse occurs by the people they are supposed to trust (e.g., parents, family members, or other close caregivers). The abuse can range in severity and include: Sexual abuse Financial abuse Physical abuse Verbal abuse Emotional abuse Intimidation Bullying Whatever it may be, individuals with disabilities should not be living in fear of people who should…

  • Like They Know What Love Is

    I recently had an encounter with Joel’s principal that left me a little shocked. My mom and I were waiting in the office for Joel’s IEP and the principal saw us and started a conversation. She recognized us and started talking to us about Joel and his girlfriend, we’ll call Princess Peach. Princess Peach and Joel are such a funny couple. She shows more affection and constantly sends home notes, drawings, and gifts for Joel. For the longest Joel would deny their relationship and now most days he says yes when asked if Princess Peach is his girlfriend. They have known each other since elementary school but were separated in…

  • Happy World Down Syndrome Day

    It’s World Down Syndrome DAY!! I hope everyone is celebrating in some way today. I love seeing the pictures of the crazy socks and heartfelt stories. I am so blessed to be part of the down syndrome community. I know I’ve mentioned a million times how Joel has shaped my life and how proud I am to be his sister, but I can’t say it enough. Joel is everything. But I wanted to take time and revisit why we still need this day. Why we still need down syndrome awareness. The answer is because there are still people that need to be educated on down syndrome. It is not something…

  • Restroom Wars

    We’ve been hearing a lot of debate about who can use which restroom because of the increased awareness of individuals who are transgender. As with many minority groups, they began to advocate for things they found important, one of the most famous being that of their restroom rights. Their advocacy efforts led to policy change in many stores, public areas, and even laws. But, what does this mean for our loved ones with disabilities who require help in the restroom? I was reading an article written by a concerned mother in Virginia about how the changes in laws referring to individuals who are transgender using the correct restroom affects her…