Archive for Education

From the Trenches to the Big Stage

This world has many amazing motivational speakers, like Tony Robbins, Les Brown, Steven Hawkins and hitting the big stage is the next amazing speaker Thomas Moon.

Thomas is a self-advocate and author/motivational speaker (Check out the book and motivational cd at Thomas Moon is available to speak at your next conference, event, business event, nonprofit, church, etc.

A little about Thomas

“I am an upbeat guy and a very likable person.

I am a product of the foster care system.  I was adopted at the age of 11. Before that, I grew up in foster care in Pennsylvania and Florida. I have cerebral palsy, which weakens muscle coordination. I use a wheelchair most of the time, but can walk with supports.

Growing up in foster care is difficult.  Being disabled, being different and growing up in foster care is very difficult.

However, I am a survivor.” Thomas Moon

View Thomas’s marketing poster below (Available posters to hang in your business, community, etc.)

A list of Thomas Moon’s awards and accomplishments


  • Voted Best Leader Under 55 By Ocala Magazine
  • Graduate of Partners in Policy Making 2010
  • 2011 recipient of the Idelio Valdes Leadership and Advocacy Award
  • President Ocala Business Leaders 2012
  • 2013 Appointed to the Florida Development Disability Council by Governor Scott
  • Founding Member of the Marion County Disability Alliance
  • Business Owner/Entrepreneur

And more

Again Thomas Moon is available to speak at your next conference, event, business event, nonprofit, church, etc. Please contact, or by phone at 352-502-5994, if you have any questions or to schedule Thomas to speak.

Remember to check out the marketing poster below and to not be afraid to squeak your wheels to get things done.



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.

Epilepsy and Medical Cannabis

Guest Blog by Jamie Sagona – Self-Advocate and friend.

I came across a New York Times article, which led me to a Huffington Post article,

which led me to a Tedx Talk video that blew my mind. It inspired my to do a large

amount of research into medical cannabis and its use for the treatment of seizures

(among other things). It has been a long time since any treatment for epilepsy or any

medical conditions for that matter has gotten me so excited or given me such hope.

One of the more cutting edge treatments gaining notoriety for treating seizures,

even the most severe seizures in children, is not what you might expect. It’s

medical cannabis. A specially derived extract from a plant that has been bred to

have no psychoactive effects, but more analgesic and anti-inflammatory qualities.

It has essential no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive element found

in cannabis, and it has a high concentration of the non-psychoactive element

cannabidiol (CBD).

So far, there have been no reported negative side effects from taking medical

cannabis. Pharmaceutical treatments for seizures often cause one if not several of

the following: weight gain, fatigue, kidney damage, liver damage, depression, and

cognitive processing problems, among other problems.

A non-profit organization in Colorado called Realm of Caring developed this special

strain of medical cannabis and distributes it to children and adults with various

medical conditions, including epilepsy.

Children that were taking numerous pharmaceuticals and still having hundreds of

seizures a week are now seizure free or virtually seizure free after just one dose of

this cannabis extract. Not only are they seizure free, their cognitive and physical

development has rapidly improved as well. Research currently being conducted

indicates that this improvement my not only be a result of the lack of seizures, but

also due to a property of the medical cannabis.

The irony is that as far back as 1949, research conducted in the United States

showed that cannabis a good treatment for seizures. I am on a quest to learn more

about medical cannabis and its effect on seizures. What I have learned is just

the starting point for me. More research is being done every day internationally

to discover the medical properties and uses for medical cannabis. Luckily,

everyday more information comes out and more formal research studies are being


I think it is not only important for me to share research regarding cannabis as a

treatment for epilepsy, but also as it relates to treatment for medical conditions

such as Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, Anxiety, Glaucoma, Depression, Multiple Sclerosis,

Cancer, Chronic Pain, PTSD, Parkinson’s, Migraines, Nausea, Tourette’s Syndrome,

HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and Crohn’s Disease. And these are just a few of the medical

conditions that we know of so far. Pass it on.



Florida – Rate of physical restraints in schools is alarming

From a post on

Can cameras protect special-needs kids from abuse?

A Fox news story from Texas.

More school districts and states are looking at cameras as a way to protect children with disabilities in our schools.

It is sad that we have to resort to monitoring or spying on teachers to ensure they do not abuse the children they are supposed to be caring for and teaching.

Family Café (part 1):

You are probably asking what Family Café is. No, it’s not a restaurant but an amazing annual conference.

The Family Cafe Annual Conference began with a simple idea. Why not bring together individuals with disabilities and their families with state agencies, non-profit organizations and other service providers.  This was done so families could network with each other, learn what services are available to them, and find out the best way to go about accessing those services. The conference provides a unique environment where families could connect with peers, commercial service providers, and public entities. The Family Cafe has always believed that well-informed people make the best possible decisions for themselves and their loved ones. Our Annual Conference provides the opportunity to put that principle into action.

That initial vision has spawned the largest state-wide conference of its kind in the nation. The 14th Annual Family Cafe Conference, which occurred this past June, hosted more than 7,800 people, and included 160 educational sessions.

On June 14 my dad, nephew and I headed down to Orlando the day before the conference started. We checked in and waited in our hotel room until we could go set up my booth. We went downstairs and met my great friends Heather and Michelle.  We all walked down to the exhibit hall to set up my booth and my friend’s booth.

After we set up our booth we got together in the lobby and waited for my friends to get ready for dinner. My friend Jennifer, Heather and Michelle came to dinner with us at Don Pablo’s. We all had a great dinner with great conversation.


We went back to hotel and decided to hang out by the pool. I put on my swimsuit and went down to the pool to swim. We decided to head to bed since it was getting late.

Friday arose and it was time to register and go down to the exhibit hall to run my booth. I set out my new book I wrote called, “The Squeaky Wheelchair” and put out all my literature for my motivational speaking tour and contact info. The day went along as I met a lot of people and sold and autographed about ten books.

I was getting tired so all my friends decided we wanted to get together again and go to dinner. We went to dinner and again had a great night of friends and conversation. Again it was time for bed since we had to get up early for presenting and running my booth.

Stay tuned for more of this great conference story/adventure.

Squeak, I think I need some WD 40.


Sarasota schools again try to fire teacher O’Neill

Some teachers can abuse children with disabilities with no consequences.

SARASOTA COUNTY, Florida – More than three years after they first tried to fire teacher Diana O’Neill, Sarasota school district leaders may again be frustrated in their latest attempt to dismiss the embattled teacher who was disciplined for abusing profoundly disabled students.

The latest attempt comes after the Second District Court of Appeals affirmed a state panel’s decision to suspend O’Neill’s teaching certificate for two months. Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Lori White mailed O’Neill a termination letter on June 20 stating she will ask the School Board to fire her at its July 24 meeting.

But O’Neill could thwart that move, at least temporarily, by requesting yet another administrative hearing or protesting the decision through the district’s grievance process, a move that would keep her in her $77,000 a year job possibly for several more months.

Read full story.



Parents Sue Fort Bend Special Ed Teacher Accused of Abuse

Two Fort Bend County families are suing their children’s former special education teacher months after allegations surfaced that she put a child with autism in a filing cabinet, ripped another’s hair out of her head and behaved erratically in the classroom.

Julie Gosch, 47, who had taught at Juan Seguin Elementary since 2003, resigned this year. Two teacher’s aides who worked with her sent emails to the school administrators, alleging neglect and inappropriate and abusive behavior.

Attorneys for the families provided the Chronicle with what they said were the emails, which claimed Gosch called her students “retarded,” saying “you guys are losers” and taught the aides to “accidentally” hit the children.

After aides came forward in January, the Fort Bend Independent School District and its police department investigated the allegations. Officials said Gosch’s last day of work was Jan. 27, the day the aides came forward with the written statements.

Fort Bend ISD officials said the teacher has not been the subject of any previous allegations of abuse.

Read more.

Students Traumatized in Special Education Across America, Seclusion, Restraint, and Aversives

From Georgia:Families Against Restraint And Seclusion

Students Traumatized in Special Education Across America, Seclusion, Restraint, and Aversives Scream Rooms when will America say enough is enough?
Published on January 18, 2012 by Kymberly Grosso in Autism in Real Life

A urine soaked scream room. A child stuffed in a duffel bag. Vinegar soaked cotton balls put in a child’s mouth. Slapped on the head with plastic bottles. Child dragged through a playground across asphalt with pants down. Shoved to the floor and dead from asphyxiation. Handcuffed and duct-taped. Degraded. Dehumanized. Traumatized. Mob stories? No, it is just a scratch of the surface of what has happened to children in special education in the past year. Not in a third world country, but here in America.

Read more.

More on “Scream Rooms”

From the West Hartford News.  A reporter who is the mom of a special needs student.

“They are essentially jail cells — most of them can only be opened from the outside — and most are smaller than a walk-in closet, painted white and with bright lights, the kind that only exacerbate sensory issues in kids with autism and other special needs. I’ve seen kids as young as 4 wailing away in the room as class is in session just a few feet way. (I wonder if it’s disconcerting to the other special needs kids in class.) For those with poor reasoning and coping skills, hearing others in the room creates constant anxiety that is bound to make them act up and get put in the room.”

Read the entire article.

The abuse of our children with special needs and disabilities has to stop.  We need to keep making noise – keep squeaking those wheels.