Help More Adults like Jaime Fulfill their Hidden Potential.
Jamie was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when he was 4-years-old. At 7, Jamie was barely verbal and had a permanent scar from banging the back of his head against the bedroom wall. That's when his family enrolled him at Easterseals Therapeutic Day School. Soon after, Jamie joined many of his fellow students competing in local Special Olympics events.
Through ups and downs, Jamie continued to make progress gaining responsibility and self-control. When he became an adult, Easterseals counselors helped him get a job at a produce store. After he graduated, they gave him a job as an assistant in the school's adult vocational program. And most recently, Jamie competed at the Special Olympics in China - bringing home several medals.
Monday, March 13, 2023, 12:11 PM
Judy Heumann was known as the Mother of the Disability Rights Movement. It wasn’t just because of he…
Judy Heumann was known as the Mother of the Disability Rights Movement. It wasn’t just because of her undeniable impact, having led the charge through grassroots demonstrations and organizing to pass significant legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act. She owned that title because she nurtured the movement and the people within it. Her defiance against systemic ableism was a path of overwhelming obstacles. Many people who were on that path with her looked to Heumann to help navigate the unknown, and to bring clarity to a struggle that many were going through in silence. She lifted the movement through storytelling and being candid about her own experiences.
Today, we celebrate Judy Heumann.
Because of Judy Heumann, the lives of millions of disabled people were changed for the better. Her legacy is written within the generations of disability advocates that will look to her example and ensure that her life’s work continues on.
Will you join them?
Wednesday, February 8, 2023, 4:50 PM
Welcome to a new year! I hope everyone is having a nice start to 2023. New Year’s Day is alway…
Welcome to a new year! I hope everyone is having a nice start to 2023. New Year’s Day is always my happiest day, because it feels like a clean slate and fills me with so much hope for the next 365 days.
This year is no exception. 2023 appears to be a year of new beginnings: after almost 3 years of long-distance dating with my boyfriend Juan, this is the year I’m moving to live with him in Texas!
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the last 3 years and share what I’ve learned. After trying long-distance relationships with other partners (and subsequently failing at it), I finally got it right this time.
And I learned a lot along the way.
I’m guessing some of my readers may find themselves in this same position, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned these past three years — the highs, the lows, and everything in between:
It’s been quite the journey, but I’m so proud of what we’ve learned and will continue to learn as we embark on this next chapter.
Welcome to 2023: the year of new beginnings!
Thursday, December 15, 2022, 5:07 PM
There I was, lying on the pullout couch less than 2 feet above the floor, where my mother and my fri…
There I was, lying on the pullout couch less than 2 feet above the floor, where my mother and my friend, Kathy, were strenuously bending over to pull up my pants, put on my shirt, preparing me for PRWeek.
My mom is a trooper. At 62 years old, she’s made countless trips out of town with me – for work, physical therapy, and the occasional vacation – and she’s always been my “number one helper.” But, lifting and rolling my 225-pound body is more than a one mama job. We are lucky to have Kathy.
Getting in and out of bed, or in this case a pullout couch, could be easier. Unfortunately, all the hotels in Chicago we contacted have beds on “platforms,” meaning there is no space between the bottom of the bed and the floor. Why is that important? Well, there is this piece of equipment – a Hoyer lift – that can assist my helpers getting me in and out of bed. Quite frankly, it’s the only way I get out of bed.
Because we couldn’t find a hotel that simply just had space underneath their beds, where the legs of the Hoyer lift could slide under – lifting and dropping me above the bed – I was stuck on the pullout couch.
And, as I mentioned, the pullout couch is literally only 2 feet above the ground. Not. Easy.
My mom was already fighting a strained back, this inconvenience certainly didn’t help – our four-night trip to Chicago, which included two days of a PRWeek conference, a night out with my coworkers, capped off by my first trip to an improv comedy show. It was going to be a great trip!
But, I had to leave early. It was just too much.
I have a great deal of empathy for my caregivers. Knowing that my mom and Kathy were straining so hard literally just to roll me over to get me ready for the conference, we didn’t have the energy to continue for any time after the conference. No dinner with my coworkers. No comedy show.
It was a great conference. I believe the Easterseals + Change for Balance duo gave one of the better presentations, and I made a number of new friends, but the experience was overshadowed by the inaccessibility of the hotel, and the fact that I had to skip time with my colleagues to go home.
Look, I’m one of the lucky ones, and I’m well aware. I have a good paying job, which allows me to afford bringing Kathy along. I have a supportive mom, who will travel with me when I need help. But, even this crew of experienced travelers and healthcare workers couldn’t take it any longer – we headed home.
Even my mother, one of the toughest and “let’s get this done go-getters” made a comment: “It’s no wonder many people with disabilities choose not to travel. This is really tough.”
And that is the reality. Traveling is really tough. Hotels don’t design with full accessibility in mind and airlines are not accessible for people in wheelchairs. Thousands of people with disabilities choose not to risk the travel, whether for work or for vacation, and stay-at-home where it’s safe, where it’s accessible.
And that’s not right. That’s not fair. It’s not accessible. But it’s the reality.
So, what will we do? Do we stay quiet, stay-at-home, and on the occasional burst of courage take a work or personal trip?
I don’t think so. Let’s get loud. Let’s rally for more accessible hotels and airlines. Let’s rally for accessibility.
I’ll keep on sharing my stories and I’ll keep being “loud.” I hope you’ll keep following.
141 W Jackson Blvd, Suite 1400A, Chicago, IL 60604 | 800-221-6827 (toll-free)
Easterseals and its affiliate organizations are 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.
141 W Jackson Blvd, Suite 1400A
Chicago, IL 60604 | 800-221-6827 (toll-free)
Easterseals and its affiliate organizations
are 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.