Tag Archive for florida

You Don’t Want to Miss

Have you heard of Family Café?

Family Café is an annual disability conference with lots of great information, sessions, exhibit and more.  There are many sessions, like busting down barriers, how to get services to help, how to advocate better, scuba diving, social security and many more. This year the conference is June 10-12 in Orlando at the Hyatt.

Thomas Moon will be there with a booth, selling his great books, motivational cds and more. Let’s just say you could win a drawing so make sure you definitely stop by and enter the drawing, see the amazing Thomas Moon, get a picture and learn some great information.

Thomas will also be doing a presentation on busting down barriers and succeeding despite a disability or any other life struggles. The presentation will be on Friday June 10 from 4:30 p.m.to 5:30 p.m. in room Bayhill 24.

Please come hear the extraordinary Thomas Moon and prepare to be amazed! He will have a box with him that you will find out more about then.

Come out June 10-12 or even just one day. You can find out more information at www.familycafe.net.

Until then remember to squeak your wheels and that a little bit of motivation and action each day will make your life shine brighter than the suns ray!

Are You Running on Empty?

Do you ever fill that your life has become crap and that you are running on empty? Now what the heck do you do to pull yourself out of that dump?

What I do is find very positive people to be around and hang out with them. This makes you feel better and also gives you the chance to tap into their abundance of happiness and positivity.

Another thing I do is put on some music and let it take over my body. You will probably find yourself tapping your foot and starting to sing out loud. I also put on some motivational messages by many great speakers like Thomas Moon, Trent Shelton, Tony Robbins, Les Brown and many others.

Some other things you can do to:

1. Exercise or go to the gym

2. Just relax and get some sleep

3. Maybe you have a man or woman you can cuddle with/spend time with

4. See a doctor that might give some medicine to help

5. Put your fist through a wall (Not violence, just a wall)

There are so many more things you can do. Remember that your life may seem like crap right now but your life will turn around.

Keep pushing forward and trying to improve. Stress and depression is a bitch which can literally kill you! There are people out there that care about you and want the best for you.

Roll those squeaky wheels over that stress/crap life and remember that there are amazing endless possibilities out there. I have faith and believe in you, you got this!

What Are People With Disabilities Looking for When Looking for a House or Apartment?

Are you a realtor or just a person with a disability? Let’s discuss what people with disabilities are looking for when looking for a place.

When I moved out on my own I was of course looking for places I could live that were accessible and accommodating.

List of things I was for so I could live comfortably:

  1. Was the place close near a bus stop?
  1. Did the place have a ramp or steps?
  1. Was there a walk in shower or a tub?
  1. Was I allowed to put grab bars up in the bathroom?
  1. Could I accessibly move around the place kitchen, bedroom etc.?
  1. Was there stairs in the place?
  1. If there were stairs, is there a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen downstairs?
  1. Could I afford the rent or to buy?
  1. Could I have a care person come in to help me around the house and if needed be a live in helper.

These were a few things I was looking for and many others with disabilities are looking for. Do you as a Realtor know this or do you need training when it comes to people with  disabilities?


Check me out www.disabilityspeaker.org

Do you as a person with a disability discuss with the Realtor or landlord, what you need to be able to live in a place? You should know what accommodations you need to live comfortably.

No matter what situation you are in, you can live on your own and sometimes with help. This is possible, you just need to know what accommodations and what you need to live comfortably. Let’s stop making excuses and feeling sorry for yourself and start living our lives to fullest! Go after that life you want and deserve, squeak, squeak!

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 http://blog.squeakywheelchair.com/?page_id=516) 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 tj@moonscapes.org, www.disabilityspeaker.org 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.



Another Year In Tallahassee

I recently made one of my yearly trips to our Capital in Tallahassee.  Some years I have make more than one trip, but most of the time it is just one trip to advocate for legislation helping those with disabilities.

Chatting with Senator Dean (he will soon be terming our and he will be missed) I was reminded that I have been meeting with him since his first year in office – that was 2002.  Time flies, so my trips have been going on for over 12 years.  I am not sure if I was visiting before he took office.  Encounters blur together and memories are not always perfect.

Never the less, it has been a lot of years advocating.  Over the years my advocacy has been varied, not just limited to those issues that affect the disabled.  In fact my first couple of years centered on children’s issues and my trips were made during Children’s Week at the Capital.

Although these last years I have been going up during Developmental Disability Day at the Capital I still advocate for more than just those with disabilities.  I continue to advocate for our children, especially those in foster care or recently adopted.  This year there were some justice issues that also were on my legislative agenda.  Two of them being a bill to end the death penalty in Florida (it may not pass this year but it is inevitable) and a bill to required a unanimous jury verdict to impost the death penalty (this looks like it could pass this year.)

Restoring budget cuts for those with disabilities is a big issue this year and will continue to be for the future.  Reimbursement rates for those who provide services to those with disabilities have been cut over 14% on the average.  And these cuts have been in place for over a decade.   This year advocacy groups are hoping to get 7% restored.  This will still not bring us back to 2003 levels.

Employment and transportation are also important issues.  There is an Employment First Bill that could give employers incentives to hire persons with disabilities.  Transportation funding always falls short of what is needed.

There are still over 20,000 Florida citizens with disabilities on a waiting list for services.  The legislature and governor are being asked to provide funding to remove as many as possible from this waiting list and to provide these essential services for our vulnerable citizens.

Children with disabilities are still being housed in nursing homes or facilities for adults.  Children with some medical needs, usually complex, are being housed in nursing home facilities for the elderly despite a lawsuit and direction from the Federal Government to place them in appropriate facilities.

There are many other issues that impact the daily life and quality of life of our citizens with disabilities.  These needs should be addressed and solutions put in place.

I am a realist when it comes to Tallahassee.  I look for, hope for and work for incremental changes.  This has worked in the past, as we have moved forward to better serve this population.  I am heartened by the fact that we have not taken any steps backward in the last few years.  This is an area where two steps forward and one step backward is unacceptable.



Myths About Persons with Disabilities

NOTE:  Previous published as an Op-Ed piece in the Ocala Star Banner.  Original can be seen here.

October is National Disability Awareness Month. The focus has traditionally been on raising awareness about persons with disabilities, focusing on the needs for employment for persons with disabilities and improving awareness of the need for full accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Nearly 20 percent of people in the U.S. have a disability. That is one in five, making those with disabilities the largest minority population in the U.S. It also is one of the few minority groups you can join at any time.

Here are some myths about people with disabilities that need to be busted and understood:

■ People with disabilities tend to be sickly. Wrong. Most people with disabilities are healthy. Although some disabilities are the result of illness, the disability itself is not an illness. Oftentimes, the disability is not a medical condition at all. Many researchers and advocates now say that the medical model should no longer be used when dealing with those who have a disability. Rather than finding a cure, acceptance is the better way to deal with them.

■ People with disabilities should be, or want to be, admired. I know a woman who has said, “Do not admire me. The desire to live a full life does not warrant adoration. Respect me, for respect presumes equity.”

■ People with disabilities live completely different lives than the nondisabled. While, in some cases, their lives may be different, the reality is that people with disabilities want the same things everyone else wants. They want to be included, to have a job, a spouse or significant other, family and friends. They want to live an independent life.

■ You should help someone with a disability when out in the public. We all need assistance from time to time. However, do not assume someone with a disability needs or wants your help. People with disabilities value their independence like anyone else.

■ People with disabilities are more comfortable with “their own kind.” That is completely false. Like anyone else, people with disabilities are people and have or should have friends who are similar to themselves as well as friends who are different.

■ People with disabilities need friends. While loneliness and isolation often are the result of living with a disability, they do not want random friends. As one person with a disability told me, “People should not walk up to me and assume they are my friend. Get to know me. We may become friends.”

■ All people with hearing disabilities can read lips. Some can read lips, and many do not. Do not assume they can read your lips.

■ People who are blind develop a sixth sense. Often people who are blind or sight-impaired develop their other senses more than you or I, but they do not have an uncanny or special sixth sense.

■ Wheelchairs confine or limit the activities of a person with a disability. Most people who use a wheelchair do not consider themselves wheelchair bound. It is just a way for the person to easily get around.

■ The only real service animals are seeing eye or guide dogs. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.

■ Service animals need to wear a vest or other identification. The ADA does not require a special vest or identification. Some service animals may be equipped with a harness because of the service they provide their owner.

The important thing to remember is that people with disabilities are people first. They are not their disability, and even though their disability may impact their life, their disability does not define them. Like everyone, they have likes and dislikes. They have faults and strengths. They have dreams and aspirations. They have successes and failures.

Be aware during Disability Awareness Month of those who have disabilities around you. Keep that awareness alive all year by remembering that those with disabilities simply want to live an independent life like anyone else.

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.


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.

I Acquired a Brain Injury

Now I need to make it clean that acquiring a brain injury is not like acquiring a new car or a boat or television.  You do not go down to the Brain Injury Store and ask for a new brain injury.  It just does not work that way.

March is Brain Injury Awareness month.  To help raise awareness I thought I would share about acquiring a brain injury.

There are two types of brain injury – Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI and Acquired Brain Injury or ABI.  A couple of years ago I acquired a brain injury.

Traumatic Brain Injury occurs when something outside the brain causes the injury.  Being hit on the head with a hammer, falling debris from an air plane hits you on the head, falling down and hitting your head, car accident where you smash against the side window or windshield.  These are all forms of TBI.  As long as the injury is from something external the injury is classified as TBI.

Please do not think that I am making light of brain injuries.  I suffered a brain injury.  Mine was the acquired kind.  I just think that the term Acquired Brain Injury or ABI is an odd way to phrase a life changing event.

ABI’s occur when the injury to the brain is not from an external source.  Even to a lay person like myself that makes sense; TBI external, ABI not external.

If the brain injury is the result of a lack of oxygen to the brain it is ABI.  If you sniff too much glue you can cause ABI.  Drowning can cause ABI.  A disease such as meningitis can cause ABI.  And a stroke can cause ABI.

All of these are considered non-traumatic events.  Although as a stroke survivor, I will tell you the stroke was a traumatic event.  However, non-traumatic brain injuries are classified as ABI.

Brain injuries whether TBI or ABI can often be invisible to those observing the person suffering.  However, brain injuries are real and they can result in long term or even life long debilitating effects.

Just for the record, if I had a choice I would not have chosen to acquire a brain injury.  Acquiring a new car would have been a lot more fun.  As it was, I had no choice in the matter.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, be aware that those of us who have suffered a brain injury struggle to different degrees with many aspects of life that other take for granted.  Although our disability is invisible, it is still real.

I know that Thomas always ends his blogs with keep squeaking you wheels.  However, I have no wheels to squeak.  I will remind you that part of my brain died.  So what is your excuse?