Get Involved in Your Child’s Life!

How involved are you in your child with a disability’s life or any of your children?

I am not a parent so I am not coming from a parent’s perspective but I am coming from my own experience. I am an adult with a disability but I used to be a child of course. I went into foster care when I was about three years old and in foster care, no one gave me the time of day.

I was told I was stupid and would go nowhere in life. I was usually told to just go sit in the corner and watch T.V.

Having no support, I basically had no life. My life changed at age 11 because two wonderful people came and adopted me. The Moon family treated me like any other child and knew I wasn’t stupid.

My new parents got involved in my life and wanted me to go places, me too. We fought the school to get me a regular education and when getting nowhere, I was took out and home schooled.

We fought VR to help pay for some of my college, worked to find a way I can move out on my own/be independent and much more.

The moral of it all is that because I had/have parents involved in my life, it helped get me to where I am.

I say help because you can’t live your child’s life, only they can! Talk with your child, find programs and activities that will improve their life, take them to important things and actually get involved. Having parents involved in the child’s life will do much for amazing things and not just for the child but you too and even others.

I found this story online that shows how having parents involved in a child’s life (school, skills, work, etc.) will do wonders. Check it out at http://www.eduguide.org/article/special-needs-children-the-power-of-
parent-involvement

Your child is so important to you and I know you want the best for them, so get involved. You are going to have battles but you can’t give up, sometimes we have to squeak our wheels so many times before something happens but don’t you dare quit!

Handling an Access Problem

As a person with a disability you will experience an access problem At one time or another. I use a service animal to alert me to certain medical issues. The ADA, Americans with Disability Act, protects my right to have my service animal accompany me when I am out in public.

Most states also have similar legislation protecting my access rights with Maggie my service animal. Persons who use service animals are typically protected on both the state and federal level.

Unfortunately, not all businesses are aware of or properly trained on the law. This can and has led to my being denied access to a public place. Most recently while in Georgia visiting family Maggie and I were denied access to a local restaurant. The manager on duty asked for Maggie’s papers.

By law, no papers or certification are required for service animals. Businesses can ask two simple questions. Is that a service animal? What service does it provide? For most public places these are the only two questions that can be asked

There is no requirement for a doctors note or prescription. No requirement for papers or certification. Service animals do not even have to wear a vest identifying them as such.

I believe that education and information are the best solutions. When denied access to the local restaurant I simply informed the manager on duty that no papers were required by law. Unfortunately, the manager had Been misinformed by whoever trained him. He would not accept my explanation.

Rather than cause a scene, I left him a small card I carried with an explanation of the ADA legislation and left the restaurant. Past experience has taught me that arguing will not accomplish anything.

The next day I called the corporate office of the restaurant. A return call from the General Manager solved the problem. He acknowledged that the local manager had acted incorrectly, apologized and assured me that the manager was now aware of the law.

That worked for me. I believe our job as advocates is not to comfort or argue, except as a last resort. Rather we need to educate and inform.

I did return to the restaurant the next week for dinner. First, to make sure the problem was really resolved. Secondly because I wanted to try their food. There were no problems and the food was good.

We need to keep speaking our wheels. We also have to educate and inform.

Crabbing From a Wheelchair

I know eating crab is the best part but have you ever tried crabbing from a wheelchair.  Have you ever wondered how someone in a wheelchair goes crabbing?

I went deep sea fishing and crabbing about three years ago up in Maryland. I will tell you about the deep sea fishing before I tell about crabbing.

real fish pic (Small) Picture 115

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we got to the fishing charter boat, we saw that we had to climb down a latter into the boat which would have been a challenge for me.  Instead, two or three guys just lifted me up in my wheelchair and set me in the boat. I caught the biggest fish on the boat that day.

Crabbing time, we went down to a peer to go crabbing. I used a string, crab basket and some chicken necks to catch the crabs.

There were two ways I did the crabbing, one while sitting in chair and the other by propping myself up against the railing. Some people have to stay in the wheelchair because their legs are not strong enough. (You should work out your legs so they get stronger)

While sitting n the chair I tied the string to the crab basket and tied the chicken neck inside the basket. I then took and threw the basket in the water while holding on to the string. I let the basket sink to the bottom.

I let it sit a few minutes and then pulled up on the string until the basket was above the water. I pulled all the way up if there were crabs in the basket but if not I lowered back down.

Now doing the crabbing while standing up against the railing is pretty much the same except I was standing up.

Hopefully this gets you wanting to give deep sea fishing and crabbing a try. I thought it was a blast!

Get out there and do new things.  Remember squeaking your wheels will get you far!

Science Fiction, Fantasy, Comics, Gaming and Those with Disabilities

Dragon Con in Atlanta bills itself as the largest multi-media popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music and film in the universe.

It is held in a number of hotels in downtown Atlanta and the crowds can be massive.  Over 50,000 people attended this year, possibly 60,000.  They can be intimidating for people who have no special needs or disabilities, but for those with disabilities it can be a massive task to overcome.

Two things make Dragon Con easier for those with disabilities to handle.  First, the people who attend the Con are mostly geeks.  Yes we are geeks and proud of it.  Many of them have been picked on or made to feel different.  As a result, the Con crowd accepts everyone and judges no one.  No matter what, you are made to feel welcome.

Second, the Dragon Con disability services are great.  The staff and volunteers do their best to accommodate everyone.  It does not matter what your special need or disability is, there is an attempt to meet your needs.  As with any event this size, there will be problems.  As with any event this size, there are never enough sign language interpreters to go around.  As with any event this size, wheelchairs and walkers often get lost in the crowds and have difficulty getting through.  Elevators can also be challenging because of the number of people.

Despite the crowds and the size of the event, everyone I talked to had a great time and had little or no difficulties with getting the accessibility they needed.

I attended with my service dog Maggie and a friend also joined me with her service dog.  We were given seats up front in most cases to protect the dogs from being stepped on or tripped over.  It also allowed us to enter before the mass of bodies pushed through the doors.

Most of the attendees were respectful to the dogs and although many asked if they could pet them, only a few reached out without permission.

Overall the Con was a favorable experience – we had fun and Maggie handled the very large crowds very well.  I am not sure if a crowd of 50,000 to 60,000 non-geeks would have been as much fun or as easy to handle.

My experience has been that geeks (and I am one, albeit and older geek) tend to be accepting and easy to get along with.

Meanwhile, keep squeaking those wheels and have fun.

Trust Me That it is Not About I

I was at church Sunday and heard a great message/sermon that got me thinking. The title of the message/sermon was, “Don’t Trust the I!”

The congregation thought that the pastor meant Eyeballs but then he explained that he meant, “I.” The pastor went on to say how we say that I did this and I did that but it’s a lie because I did nothing, God did it/allowed it to be so.

This blog post is not going to talk about that though.

People in today’s society talk a lot about I and few about we (I need to win the lottery, I need a new car, I got this far, I got a raise, etc.)

Let’s start getting on social media and talk less about I and more about we, us, society, etc. You should also do this when you are talking with others and are in public. I just realized how media starts with me, shouldn’t it be about us? Don’t trust the I!

I was thinking as the pastor was talking, about how the president, congressman, etc. says, “I helped the country, I saved the economy, I made this country free, etc.”

The truth is that I did nothing, WE did something, the people did, and everyone in the legislative positions did! What makes this world spin and success, is everyone working together to make things better.

Let us start reaching out to each other to help, give assistance, etc. You may say that you know no way to help. Yes you do so do something and show that your heart is more than an organism in the body!

We can start working together and make this world worth waking up in the morning. I should not be your focus, we should.

So let us squeak our wheels and make this happen!

Recap of TimeGate 2014

One day I am traveling through time and space with my big blue box, when I suddenly arrived at this hotel in Georgia where there was a convention going on called TimeGate.

Arriving at the hotel early, my dad and I checked in and brought everything to the room. Coming downstairs to register for TimeGate, it wasn’t time so we sat in the convention area and talked to a few Whovians, Stargate fans and more.

My stomach was shouting at me so we contacted my sister about dinner and we met them at a great pizza place after we registered for convention.

Arriving back at the convention, it was time for different sessions to start. I went to a couple and then hung out by the TARDIS, talking to others and taking pictures. The time was getting around 9 p.m. and I surprisingly decided to go up to the room to get sleep for the upcoming and exciting next day of fun.

“Just a few more minutes’ mummy.” I woke up ready to take on the day, battling Daleks, Cybermen and more. Ate a couple cheese sandwiches for breakfast and then headed down stairs to see all the costumes and go to a few more sessions.

I had this strange lady named Jamie texting me all morning saying her and her family will be there at 11 and did we all want to do lunch, so I decided to go along with it. Just so you know Jamie and her family are great friends of ours that we met at lasts years TimeGate.

I hung out in the convention area talking to people and along come a crowd of Whovians with Jamie as the culprit. We all exchanged hugs and handshakes. We decided to; do lunch at the hotel where they had hamburgers and hotdogs. We all chatted at lunch to catch up on what is going on with each other.

After lunch, we left my dad to be upgraded by the Cybermen and looked around the dealers room as well as take pictures. I got a badge thing from the dealer room that said, “Legal permit to park TARDIS.”

I joked that it was going to be my new disabled parking sticker.

Jamie and her family had to leave so we said goodbye.

I continued to hang out until it was time for my dad and me to do dinner. After dinner I went to hang out some more until it was time for the Ken Spivey Band to perform. I rocked out and after I had to wait in line for the cabaret. The Cabaret is where the special guests performed different acts.

Right after the cabaret was the masquerade costume contest which was great. My dad went up to sleep and said to come up when I wanted.

I went up’ stairs put my leather jack up stairs so I could go to the dance and boogie down.

I went back down stairs and got a soda while I waited for the dance to start. The dance started so I slid in smoothly like I was Usher or someone.

The jams were bouncing so I took off the legs for my wheelchair and got out on the dance floor and busted a move!

Sleep time was about 1 a.m.

The next day we packed up, then went to breakfast with my sister, her husband and my awesome niece. After breakfast we drove all the way home.

We survived the Daleks and had a blast.

One thing I liked about this year is there were reserved seating for people with disabilities and that I saw many more people in wheelchairs than ever before. Normally I am the only one in a wheelchair.

When are you going to start living and push your barriers aside? “I would be nowhere, if I did not decide to bust down those barriers!” Thomas Moon

You can get the unimaginable but you have to choose to dig out of the mound holding you back and never go back.

Check out my photos and never stop squeaking your wheels.

Life in the Box or Out of it

There is this thing called a box that we put ourselves in.

Most people go from day to day with some kind of struggle or obstacle, like financial problems, work problems, relationship problems and more. People just don’t see the obstacle and move on.  They see it and sit back like that is how things have to be.

This box we put ourselves in can ruin our lives! The box may be comfortable.  It makes you not have to be afraid.  However, what kind of life are you living.

The world outside of the box can be so amazing that you just want to slap yourself. Outside of the box is that nice car you always wanted, great house, a good relationship, money, health and so much more.  Outside the box there are extraordinary things. All the box has is walls, disappointment, sadness and no change.

What kind of life do you want to live?  The old rusty one in the box or the extraordinary and rewarding life outside of the box? Comment with your answer below but I hope you choose the life outside of the box.

I personally choose to live outside of the box. I have had many obstacles put in my way.  like being put in foster care, people telling me I can’t do, people laughing meanly at me, people saying I am too stupid to learn and will go nowhere in life.  I did not listen and put myself in that box. I graduated with a Regular high school diploma, got a bachelor’s degree from RasmussenCollege, own my own business, live on my own and I am not stopping there.

I can’t drive right now but I hop in my wheelchair and take the bus places at least twice a week. Many of my friends see me riding down the sidewalk in my wheelchair and they honk the horn. They don’t know what I am doing or where I am going but they see that I am living my life outside of the box and not letting the naysayers win!

Stand your comfortable/lazy butt up and step out of that nasty box into the beautiful field of possibilities! Squeak, squeak, squeak.

More Than Just Business

Many people know that Thomas Moon, me,  is a motivational speaker, author, blogger and advocate but did you know what I do to make this world a better places?

I am involved in many different charities and causes including American Cancer Society, involving disabilities and children, adoption, foster care and more.

I am often asked Why, I do so much in the community.  What drives me to volunteer?

One answer is that I see the need.  It is right in front of me and it is hard for me to ignore it.  There is so much to do out there.

Secondly, I grew up being told I could not do.  When I was in foster care everyone told me I could not do.  Teachers told me I was mentally retarded and that I was too stupid to learn.

Foster parents told me I could not do what the other kids in the foster home did.  I was usually stuck in the corner to watch TV.  I was like a bump on a log – literally – stuck in the corner and left alone.

So when I left the foster care system, when I joined a family – opportunities opened up for me.  I was allowed to do – I was encouraged to.  My parents did not put limits or boundaries on me.  So I started doing.

Now I guess I do so much because I was told so often that I could not do.  I was told I would not learn anything – that I could not learn anything.  Now I have a Bachelor’s Degree from Rasmussen College – not a made up degree, not a degree because someone felt sorry for the kid in the wheelchair – but a real Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management – something I earned and had to work my butt off and study for.

I volunteer because I can – because instead of being the kid stuck in the corner – now I am the adult who can help and make a difference.  That is so very important to me. To make a difference.  To help those who need help.  To be the voice for so many who can’t speak out for themselves or are not heard.”

One of my events coming up is the Third Annual Strike Against Cancer. Come and support the Strike Against Cancer event on April 5th at AMF Galaxy East in Ocala! Call TJ Moon at 352-502-5994 for more information.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4KrR5bL2nk

Remember that no matter how many obstacles you come across, people try to tell you what you can/can’t do, you fall on your face, etc, keep squeaking your wheels and moving forward because no one can make your life extraordinary except you!

Florida Service Animal Legislation

Thomas (TJ) and I recently visited the Capital for Disability Day.  We visited a number of our legislators.  We both believe that you need to be engaged if you are to make a difference.  Of course we never know whether we have made a difference or not.

However, if you do not try, you will never be an instrument of change. Being that instrument of change is what we are called to be.

This year I worked on HB 849/SB 1146 that deals with Service Animals here in Florida.  Service animals are covered and our rights protected by the American With Disabilities Act at a Federal level.

Florida’s law covering service animals has some gaps and loop holes.  The intent of the new legislation is to fill these gaps and bring Florida in compliance with the ADA.

Florida law only recognizes service animals for the blind, deaf and physically impaired.  There is no coverage under the state law for mental health animals, PTSD service animals or medical alert animals.

Additionally, the ADA defines service animals as dogs and miniature horses.  Florida does not specify which animals qualify as “service animals”.  This means that someone could claim a service cat, monkey or other animal.  This legislation would define service animal in Florida as the same as the federal standards.

The legislation would make it a misdemeanor in Florida to interfere with or deny access to anyone with a service animal.  Currently service animal owners have to sue at the federal level.  If it is in Florida statute a local law enforcement officer could issue a citation if a person with a service animal is denied access.

The bill also addresses penalties for fake service animals and the rights to animals under the Fair Housing Act.

Overall the legislation create very little that is new.  It simply brings Florida in compliance with the Federal ADA legislation.

All of the legislators I spoke with were favorable to the legislation.  Unfortunately there are often more bills to vote on than there is time for.  Many pieces of good legislation die because there is not enough time to get them through all of the committees.

For most of the citizens of Florida this legislation will have little or no impact on their daily lives.  For those of us who use service animals, this legislation is important.  A true service dog is considered a piece of medical equipment and is not a luxury but in almost all cases a necessity for the owner of the animal.

Hopefully this year the bills dealing with service animals will make a timely passage through the various committees and make it to the floors of the House and Senate.

 

Tallahassee – Disability Day

Thomas and I will be attending the annual Disability Day at the Capital on Monday and Tuesday of this week.  DD Day will be on Tuesday; however we will be up a day early so that we can meet with as many legislators as possible while we are in town.

As advocates and a self-advocates it is important to stay connected with our state legislators.  It is also important to be active on the national level.  However, I have found that as advocates we can be more effective at the state level.  The laws and budgets passed by the State of Florida directly and significantly impact the lives of persons living with disabilities here in our state.

I have been advocating in Tallahassee since Jeb Bush was governor.  I like to think that my efforts have had some level of success and have helped to make the lives of many Florida citizens better.

The issues have remained the same for as long as I have been doing this.  We need better employment opportunities and better transportation services.  These two often go hand in hand.  It is hard to find employment if you can not get to and from work.  Persons with disabilities have a high rate of unemployment.  Only 18% of people with disabilities are employed.

Every year we fight to keep the Early Steps program funded.  This is administered by Children’s Medical Services and is the Part C of the IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  They provide early intervention services for 0 to 3 and serve over 40,000 children in Florida.  History has shown that early intervention works.

The Med Waiver has been under funded for a decade or more.  We currently have over 20,000 people on the Med Waiver waiting list.  Every year we work to increase funding in an attempt to reduce the waiting list and continue to provide community services for those who so desperately need them.

Last session we saw and increase in funding and were able to remove over 1,000 individuals from the waiting list.  However, we still have a long way to go.

Every year the treatment of children with disabilities in our public schools is discussed.  In 2010 we had the first significant legislation protecting children from the abuse of seclusion and restraint in our public schools.  This year there is no legislation proposed so our children will remain vulnerable to abuse for another year.

Each year we fight the same battles.  Some years we make small steps and we celebrate our successes.  It is sad that advocates for the most vulnerable members of our society have to settle for small incremental successes.  However, that is the reality that over 20% of our citizens live with. That is the percent of people who have a disability.

This Tuesday, March 18 you should hear the squeaking of wheels in Tallahassee.  I hope that our legislators listen and appreciate how difficult it is for so many of our disabled citizens to make the trip to the Capital.  We want to be listened to, we want to be heard and we want to be taken seriously.

We will continue to keep squeaking our wheels for as long as it takes.