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2023 Monthly Newsletter

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A note from Debbie....

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This month we are focusing on parenting with a disability. The National Council on Disability found that people with disabilities have their children removed at disproportionately higher rates and their parental fitness is regularly questioned in dependency/family court proceedings. In this newsletter, you will read articles written by parents with a disability, a child who was raised by a mom with a disability, and we will share some helpful information if the State threatens to remove your child because you are a parent with a disability.

Also, in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month, we will share some resources with you about how you can get the vaccinations that you need. 

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Feature Articles

Parenting with a Disability

By: Christinne Gray

Photo of Christinne Gray and her son

There are so many issues that go into parenting with a disability, it is difficult to narrow down which deserves the most attention.

As a person with a disability, there are many things that need to be considered, one of them being your individual circumstances before going down the path of parenthood. Once your child makes their grand appearance, it is a time of growing together with your child in the things you will learn about yourself, and being present for your child can be the focus. The child will only know you as their parent and your limitations will be secondary, if they give any consideration to them at all.

Societal perspectives have slowly changed about people with disabilities. However, despite the progress that has been made with the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act that recently celebrated its 33rd anniversary, there are still many obstacles facing people with disabilities who choose to be parents.

Successful parenting is possible for people with disabilities because of an array of supports and technology that are carefully orchestrated by the individual to make everyday obstacles nonexistent. Forging partnerships with other people such as doctors or teachers give parents the opportunity to break down barriers and stereotypes that are incorrect of what it's like, not only to be an individual with a disability, but also a parent with a disability. Sadly, it is still too common for the public to believe parents with disabilities cannot be suitable parents. They mistakenly believe that we are burdens to the children we rear for years to come. What they fail to see is the experience and the exposure to problem solving skills and the ways we navigate the world we live in give our children the opportunity to gain perspective they otherwise would not be exposed to under other circumstances.

Every milestone you experience with your child is an opportunity to learn about yourselves, challenge your limitations, expand your abilities, and grow together. Each life experience you share with your child is an opportunity to raise awareness and show others that individuals with disabilities are not so different from people without a disability.

It is my hope to continue being instrumental in expanding what the conversation of parenting with a disability looks like in the future. As a result, the efforts of awareness and advocacy that I lend my voice to, on behalf of a subject that seems so taboo, yet more common than most people realize, will allow more barriers to be eradicated from the path of people with disabilities who choose to become parents or are considering the possibility of being a parent in their future.

The path of parenting with a disability is not an easy one for many reasons. Honestly, anything in life that is important will take some effort, but the results are completely worth it. The goal is to ultimately improve the lives of individuals with disabilities and have a positive impact on the next generation because of the array of lessons children will learn by walking their path of what having a parent with a disability provides to them. 

Christinne Gray is a disability advocate, speaker, author, and consultant. Ms. Gray holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice both from the University of Central Florida. Her interests include Parenting with a Disability, Disabled Victims of Crime, IEP issues and the ADA. She authors a disability-related blog. She has written for online publications such as the Huffington Post, The National Center for Health Activity and Physical Disability, Mobile Women and the Disabled Parenting Project among others. You can also “like” her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter. In September 2020, she founded Rudd Disability Solutions. You can find the company Facebook page. Her company's goal is to increase inclusion of people with disabilities by providing trainings to individuals and companies on a wide variety of topics related to disability. She is originally from Brooklyn, New York and moved to Orlando, Florida in 1996. You can reach her at [email protected].

Author: Patricia Périssé Bochi

Parenting can be challenging for anyone, especially because we do not get a “guaranteed success step-by-step manual” when we have kids. Many authors share their expertise, wisdom, knowledge, and experiences on how to be the perfect parent; however, because humans and circumstances are unique, someone’s expertise, wisdom, knowledge, and experiences alone will not cut it. Every situation and every person are different. Different has its perks.

I have lived with a disability since the age of 15 years old. I knew I wanted to have children. It never crossed my mind how I would raise them, because my disability never stopped me from pursuing my goals. I am glad, I never thought too much about the details because when we think too much sometimes fear seeps in and drowns our dreams, and plans. I was only 19 years old when I had my daughter Sarah, and 23 years old when my son Edward was born. 

I learned from my parents that life is worth living even when things are not perfect. Parenting with a disability is as fun, challenging, and rewarding as it is for an able body parent. We can adjust, still be good parents, and live a fulfilling life.

Kids are malleable creatures and learn to adjust as well. When Sarah was born, I walked with braces and crutches. I was not very mobile. She learned how to walk very early. When she was 12 months old, we used to go to stores together and that little skinny blondie person walked next to me and did not run away. People were amazed. My son started walking when he turned 12 months old. He started running the day after he learned how to walk. At that point, I started using a wheelchair to keep up with him.

Having more mobility opened a world before us.

We went to malls, parks, parades, city events, and amusement parks. My husband is a bit of a hermit, so my children and I were the team. Each kid held to the armrests of my chair. One on each side. When they got tired, they took turns sitting on mom’s lap. I am grateful for having had the beautiful experience of being a mother. Parents with disabilities are in many ways resilient and the children learn resilience by watching their parents. The future can be bright.

Recently I opened a new company with Sarah. I am getting to know her from a professional angle and am impressed with the strong and compassioned woman she turned out to be. Although children are not a parent’s report card, with or without a disability parenting is parenting. Having a disability is not a hindrance from becoming a parent, and yet an asset when the good characteristics we learn from living with the disability, such as persistence, determination, humility, and resilience are shared with the offspring. This article, however, is not full circle, until we hear from Sarah, the child of a parent with disability… 

Photo of Patricia and Sarah

Author: Sarah Périssé Bochi

I never noticed my mom was in a wheelchair. At the tender age of five or six, I never paid much attention to her disability. It was just a part of who she was, seamlessly woven into the fabric of our lives. It wasn't until a perceptive girl in my third-grade class pointed out my mother's wheelchair during a teacher-parent conference that I truly realized its presence.

From that enlightening evening onwards, my perception of my mom remained unchanged. In my eyes, we were a normal family with a unique dynamic. We were unstoppable, invincible, and there was no limit to what we could achieve together. Her disability held no sway over the adventures we embarked upon. Whether it was a visit to the zoo, an excursion to the beach, a leisurely stroll through the bustling mall, or even the tedious task of ferrying me to my friend's house as a moody teenager, nothing hindered the vibrant tapestry of my childhood.

I can recall a solitary moment when my inquisitive nature prompted me to ask my mom a question. I wondered aloud, "What is it that you miss most about walking?" Her response struck a chord within me. She spoke of the sensation of sand playfully slipping through her toes, a simple pleasure that had become an unattainable memory. Until that moment, I had never truly appreciated the delicate magic of such experiences.

My brother and I had a few eccentric habits that set us apart from what some might consider a "normal" family. Looking back, I find myself chuckling at the innocent hilarity we unknowingly perpetuated. For instance, whenever we encountered a staircase, my fully capable brother and I would still obediently follow my mom up the ramp. It was as if we had been trained from birth to remain forever faithful by her side. To this day, we continue this tradition, and every time I realize I could have easily taken the stairs, I chuckle.

Another delightful quirk of ours was our synchronized march through malls and grocery stores. As my mom propelled herself forward with both hands, my brother and I clung to what we affectionately called "mom's hand" — the armrest of her wheelchair. Sometimes, we found ourselves sprinting beside her, gripping her armrest for dear life because she was remarkably swift. Even as an adult, I instinctively reach for that armrest, cherishing the feeling of holding onto my mom's hand, which transcends physical touch.

If there's one invaluable lesson my extraordinary upbringing has taught me, it is that there are no boundaries to what we can achieve. My mom, with her indomitable spirit, has shown me that limitations only exist within the confines of our minds. Her unwavering determination and relentless pursuit of happiness have become etched in my very being. Her disability has never hindered her, and it certainly won't hinder me.

So, as I continue to walk the path of life, I carry with me the resolute belief that there is no challenge impossible, no dream unattainable. I owe this unshakable faith to my mom, whose wheelchair became a testament to our boundless love and unwavering strength. Together, we transcend the ordinary, crafting a story of resilience, joy, and endless possibilities.

Facts About Parenting with a Disability

Parenting with a Disability

A parent with a disability has all of the same rights as any other parent. There is no law that says that a person with a disability can’t be a parent.

Florida, and many other states, have a policy that, before removing a child from the home, the state must exhaust all reasonable efforts to ensure that families remain unified and must give parents with disabilities reasonable accommodations to do so.

After the state threatens to remove your child, here is some helpful information:

All programs and services provided by or ordered by any entity related to the child welfare system would be covered by the ADA or Section 504. 

  • Investigations
  • Witness Interviews
  • Assessments
  • Removal of children from their homes
  • Case planning and service planning
  • Visitation
  • Adoption
  • Foster care
  • Independent living services
  • Reunification services, and family court proceedings

Types of Accommodations that a parent can request:

  • Additional mental health/behavioral services
  • Sign Language Interpreter services for investigations
  • Additional in-home or out-of-home respite services
  • Additional in-home or out of home health care services
  • Extension of case plans beyond 12-months
  • Assistance with transportation needs
  • Additional life skills and education classes for independent living and employment
  • Specialized living options for foster youth aging out of the system
  • Co-parenting or mentoring
  • Accessible transportation
  • Additional time for parenting plan
  • Notetakers
  • Information in simplified language 
  • Additional mental health/behavioral services
  • Additional in-home or out-of-home respite services
  • Additional in-home or out of home health care services
  • Extension of case plans beyond 12-months

Adaptive parenting techniques – Any support designed to assist a parent with a disability to parent.

  • Parenting competencies
  • Respite care
  • Money management assistance
  • Safety planning
  • Long term family support
  • Day Care
  • In-home training

How can a parent with a disability request an accommodation?

  • Ask the ADA coordinator of the organization.
  • Every public entity that employs 50 or more persons have a person who is in charge of ADA compliance courthouses have an ADA coordinator.
  • Ask the Judge.
  • Each Judge controls the procedures in his or her own courtroom. If accommodations involve the proceedings, the request needs to be made of the judge.
  • Any additional services that may be required by an adult or child with a disability should be brought before the attention of the Court.
  • The court must be told that the parent or child has a disability, and that this is a request for a modification under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and provide any documentation that you may have which establishes the connection between the disability and the needed modification.
  • In this way, the court can attempt to order the provision of services within the case plan of the child, or some other remedial measures can be taken. 

For more information, visit our blog.

#SleeveUp – Are Your Vaccinations Up to Date?

A blue bandage with white dots for national immunization awareness month

Visit our blog for more information.

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Miami Inclusion Alliance (MIA)

By: Sharon Langer, Esq.

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Stalking affects millions of people in the U.S. each year. We hear a lot about it on the news and on campuses and places of employment. Stalking can include unwanted following or approaching, unwanted use of tracking or monitoring using technology, unwanted phone calls, texts, emails. It can be anything that is a pattern of harassing or threatening, that causes unwanted fear or safety concerns in a victim.

The problem is huge, with about 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men reporting experiencing stalking at some point in their lives. (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey)

The effects can be long lasting and life altering.

MIA liaison Kat Magnoli would like to share her experience with you this month. It is a hard story to tell, but she hopes sharing it will help others who are going through a similar experience. 

Every Move You Make

By: Katherine Magnoli

His eyes burned a hole into the back of my head as he watched me, from across the room, interacting with customers and friends. I did my best to ignore him, but every so often I caught a glimpse of his withering stare. My heart raced with fear as I prayed, he wouldn’t walk over to me. Luckily my prayers were answered, well, sort of. Every so often he, or one of his family members, would walk by, creating a chill in the air that made it impossible to concentrate on the task at hand. This was not the first time I had been in this particular predicament. I have, unfortunately, been dealing with similar situations for over six years now.

Our first encounter came when a mutual acquaintance invited me to participate in an event for local entrepreneurs. I wheeled in with the same optimism and energy I had brought to thousands of events that came before, never realizing that not all who are drawn to it will have pure intentions.

The first time I saw him he was loudly using an exercise product. So loud that he was impossible to ignore. At first, this made me laugh because many had accused me of being loud and impossible to ignore. So, naturally, I felt an instant kinship with him. This made me very pleased when he approached me and asked about my products. I went on to tell him all about my books about a superhero in a wheelchair, doing my best to sound both confident and modest when I denied his claims of my being a superhero.

He went on to tell me about his line of work.

My mom, skeptical of the whole ordeal, drove me to the location which was about an hour and a half away. She would later state that it was too much for her, prompting him to appear chivalrous when he offered to drive me home.

A week went by and after much preparation, which totally seemed normal, my “new boss” picked me up for my first day of work. He arrived several hours earlier, telling me he wanted to take me to a celebratory lunch. I smiled and got in his car.

We chit chatted as he watched me text my then boyfriend who was rightfully protective of my naïveté and trusting behavior. Though we argued, I began to realize that he may have had a point. This first dawned on me as I felt his eyes fixed on me when they should have been on the road ahead. He was asking me about who I was vehemently texting with. I answered my boyfriend, and he delved in asking more questions about how we met and so forth. I repeated to myself, “This is weird but remember why you’re here. You’re an advocate and want to spread your message of inclusion.”

Unfortunately, as the months passed by, his behavior grew more odd making it increasingly difficult to remember why I had agreed to work with him.

He began to do things like comment on my physical appearance and make inappropriate suggestions.

This, along with many inappropriate sexual advances like wanting to spank me for missing a work event, made me say enough is enough. This infuriated him and he began to try his best to tear me down as an advocate. He did this by back-pedaling and telling me how awful I was as a cohost.

Shortly after the abuse took a turn for the worst, I began blocking him on all social media outlets and even went as far as to change my number.

Now, we have no direct contact. However, every now and then, I will receive a new friend request from him and have to block that additional page, as well.

Looking back at this experience, as scary as it was, made me stronger and wiser and made me realize that you can’t trust everyone. In the end, no matter what he put me through, I never let it stop me and if anything, my advocacy has grown since being a cohost on his dinky little show. In fact, I was just awarded for my efforts during Disability Pride Month. So, all of his put downs of not amounting to anything without him turned out to be extremely untrue.

There are resources that can help if you or someone you know needs help:

Florida Domestic Violence 24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 1-800-500-1119

Miami-Dade County Coordinated Victim’s Assistance Center: 305-285-5900 (call/text message 24/7)

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224

Supper Social Club Flyer September 19
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Helping People with Disabilities Communicate with First Responders.

This project has several components:

  • We make customized wallet cards for people living with intellectual/developmental disabilities and Autism.

  • We make customized caregiver wallet cards for caregivers of people living with disabilities.

  • We have an online training program for law enforcement.

  • We have a program for schools, parks programs, or community organizations.

Please click the link below to learn more about this project and to order your own customized wallet card or caregiver card.

If you have any questions, please email Debbie at [email protected].

Order a Wallet Card Here
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Subscribe to the Florida Access Coalition Mailing List to get the Most Updated Information!

Benefits Information

By: Lesly Lopez

What information am I supposed to report to Social Security?

Below is a chart that provides general direction about what beneficiaries need to report to Social Security. Keep in mind that for the SSI program, these reporting requirements apply not only to the SSI eligible individual, but also to the parents of SSI recipients under 18 and to the spouses of SSI eligible individuals.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

1. Unearned income including things like other Social Security payments, child support payments, or any other cash received that is not earned income.

2. Any gross wages/earnings and net earnings from self-employment. This includes in-kind items received in lieu of wages (like room and board).

3. In-kind support and maintenance received from others. This includes any assistance with food and shelter provided by another person.

4. Change of address.

5. Changes in living arrangements.

6. Changes in marital status.

7. Resources or assets received that cause

8. Use of any specific work incentives.

Title II Disability Programs(SSDI, CDB, DWB)

1. Any gross wages/earnings and net earnings from self-employment. This includes in-kind items received in lieu of wages (like room and board).

2. Changes in marital status (only applies to CDB and DWB – not SSDI).

3. Change of address.

4. Receipt of any public disability benefits such as Worker’s Compensation.

5. Use of any specific work incentives.

** Unearned income and resources are not considered by the Title II disability programs, thus are not required to be reported to Social Security.

Remember that it is your responsibility to promptly report all relevant changes to the Social Security Administration and any other federal, state, or local entity administering benefits you receive.

Reporting wages or earnings to SSA:

To prevent overpayments from Social Security, you should regularly report your wages within six days of the end of the month. You can report your wages by bringing pay stubs to your local Social Security office. Find an office near you by visiting the Social Security office locator


When reporting employment initially, or employment changes, the critical information to report includes:

•          Name, address and phone number of employing company

•          Name of direct supervisor

•          Date of hire/date of termination

•          Pay rate and average number of hours worked per week

•          Pay dates

•          Job title


How to Report Your Wages for SSDI:

I recommend you log into your my Social Security account (http://www.ssa.gov/myaccount) and report your earnings each month. Individuals receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and their representative payees may use my Social Security to report wages online. 

Lesly Quintanilla Lopez

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Access The Vote Florida (ATVFL) is a state chapter of AAPD’s REVUP Campaign. REV UP stands for: Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power!

The chapter is a statewide coalition of organizations and self-advocates that are working to raise awareness about issues that impact persons with disabilities, encourage people with disabilities to participate in the voting process, and educate elected officials on issues important to persons with disabilities.

Email Olivia at [email protected] to get on our mailing list.

ATVFL Website

Vote-by-Mail and How to get an Accessible Vote-by-Mail Ballot

By: Deborah Dietz

At the end of 2022, all requests for vote-by-mail ballots expired. This was because of a new state law passed in 2021.

What this means is that if you want to continue to vote-by-mail you need to submit a new request to the elections department.

In Florida, if you are a voter with a qualified disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) you have the option to receive an accessible vote by mail ballot by email. This option allows voters to cast their ballot independently without the assistance of another person.

Click here to request a vote-by-mail ballot in Miami-Dade County.

Click here to request an accessible vote-by-mail ballot in Miami-Dade County.

*NOTE: Requesting the accessible ballot will prompt the paper and electronic portions to be sent to the voter.

If you have any questions, please contact the Miami-Dade County Election’s Department at [email protected] or 305.499.8509 with any questions you might have regarding this program.

Voters who have questions should email [email protected] or call 305.499.8444.

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City of Coral Gables Events


If you have any questions, please email the City at [email protected].


Unmasked - Social Networking Event for Autistic Professionals

Wine Glass Painting

Friday, September 1st 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. Cost: $15

Diversity Equity and Inclusion Clubhouse Inside the Ruth Bryan Owen Waterway Park

3940 Granada Boulevard, Coral Gables, FL 33134

Celebrate your Autistic identity while painting wine glasses with a small group of professionals on the spectrum.

DEI Clubhouse Hours (adults)

Mondays, 3 – 7 p.m. at the DEI Clubhouse, No registration. No Fees.

DEI Clubhouse, 3940 Granada Blvd., Coral Gables, FL 33134

Unprogrammed social time to hangout.


My Squad (adults)

Last Wednesday of each month, 6 – 9 p.m.

DEI Clubhouse, 3940 Granada Blvd., Coral Gables, FL 33134

Ticketed Monthly $5 each

Teen Scene (ages 13-17)

Last Thursday of Each Month, 5 – 8 p.m. (companions are welcome to eat and join all activities).

DEI Clubhouse, 3940 Granada Blvd., Coral Gables, FL 33134

Registered seasonally $50 per season

The 988 Lifeline

blue square with 988 suicide and crisis lifeline written in the middle

988 is now active across the United States.

988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (now known as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline) and is now active across the United States.

When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing Lifeline network. These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.


This new, shorter phone number will make it easier for people to remember and access mental health crisis services.

(Please note, the previous 1-800-273-TALK (8255) number will continue to function indefinitely.)


DIG Litigation Update

Litigation Update:


Disability Independence Group’s Litigation Department closed in



If you have a disability legal question, you can contact Professor Matthew Dietz at the Disability Advocacy and Inclusion Law (DIAL) Clinic at Nova Southeastern University Law School. His email is: [email protected].


If you have a disability education issue, such as an IEP or Exceptional Student Education, you can contact Stephanie Langer at Langer Law, PA. Her email is: [email protected].

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Your Upward Journey

Your Upward Journey – It is Easier Than You Think, by Patricia Perisse Bochi 

A three-part project that includes:a book, self-help seminars, and merchandise.

Click Here for More Information

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