Speaker - Author - Advocate
Accompanied by a self-advocate, I present to children about all disabilities and the importance of understanding and acceptance. I believe in having open and honest conversations with children, because when you know better, you do better. Presentations can be tailored to specific needs and ages, and help to achieve SEL goals set forth by Common Core standards.
Inspired by my daughter with Down syndrome, I write stories that encourage friendship and acceptance among all children. I also write stories and articles about raising a child with a disability, which have been featured in various magazines, newsletters, and Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Click below to read past articles.
I became a mother to a daughter with Down syndrome 19 years ago, and embraced my new role in the disability community. I have served as a parent support volunteer, board member, editor and public speaker for the National Association for Down Syndrome, and now advocate for all individuals with intellectual disabilities.
I was thrust into the world of special needs when I received a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome 20 weeks into my first pregnancy. I spent the next few months learning all I could about the disability and how to help my daughter lead a happy and healthy life. By the time Lily arrived on May 26, 2003, I was already very involved with the Down syndrome community and ready to take on my new role as a mother.
Over the past 19 years, I have served as a parent support volunteer, a member of the board of directors, and a public speaker for the National Association for Down Syndrome. I have spoken to thousands of doctors, nurses and medical students about how to deliver a diagnosis of Down syndrome, and hundreds of students about how to treat a peer with Down syndrome. During these presentations to children, I realized the need to discuss all differences and disabilities. I set out to create a disability awareness presentation that teaches children that the more they understand, the more they will accept. During open and honest conversations with the students, I draw on popular fiction titles to help teach empathy, and I discovered a need for more of these books. I have set out to write books to fill that need, in an effort to reach as many children as possible.
I have also spent the last 19 years advocating for Lily and working to ensure inclusion in her education and all other aspects of her life. I am also the parent of two typically-developing children, and I have seen firsthand how hurtful words and a lack of understanding can negatively impact them as well. My role as a parent of school-age children enables me to connect to the students I present to and create an environment where they feel comfortable asking questions and sharing their own experiences.