I was born and raised in New York City as an only child. I grew up like any New York City kid: going to school, socializing and participating in activities. However, it was not all sweet and smooth. Since birth, I have dealt with physical and learning challenges. I have weak fine motor skills which have caused physical weakness on the right side of my body. This has always made navigating everyday life more of a challenge. I participated in occupational and physical therapy to help overcome these difficulties to the best of my ability. In grade school, I worked with a neuropsychologist to help with my learning challenges. She helped me learn compensatory strategies such as time management, organization and executive functioning. With the help of my providers, I was able to overcome and succeed despite these challenges.
I became an inspiration to others struggling with their own challenges. Growing up, I went to visit families to offer support and advice in order to help them be as successful as possible. During college, I dreamed of many different fields wanting to help others in some way. I thought about being a doctor or psychologist and then a speech language pathologist. I ended up majoring in college in Speech Language Pathology and after graduating from college with my B.A., I decided I wanted to pursue graduate studies and pursue getting my masters in the field. So I went off to CUNY Lehman College to do just that. However, after two and a half years, I learned that Speech Language Pathology was not the career I wanted. At that point, I stopped graduate studies and decided to help others in a different way.
In August 2017, I decided to use social media and a website to provide support and resources for people with physical, learning, speech, emotional and medical differences. My passion grew. I invested more and more time collecting resources and personal stories, meeting leading professionals and celebrities, and starting a proper non-profit organization to grow Different and Able.
Through the Different & Able Foundation, I am empowering people who live with physical, learning, speech, emotional and medical differences, offering hope and inspiration, professional resources and a community of ongoing support. Together, we are building a more diverse and tolerant community, with bridges of access for all people, irrespective of the differences in their abilities. We do this through sharing personal stories of struggle, triumph and hope as well as inviting professionals to share their knowledge, advice and insight. Personal story content includes a school-age boy with dyslexia who becomes lieutenant governor and a young woman with multiple sclerosis who manages her physical health using a whole-foods, plant based diet. Professional content includes speech-language pathologists discussing how parents can acquire the skills to help their own kids with their communication success as well as a neuropsychiatrist who explains the treatment of individuals with brain injuries and psychiatric disorders.
The website will launch soon. For now, you can follow-us on Instagram @differentandable
I believe food allergies need to be incorporated into the world of advocacy for people with disabilities. I certainly want to do so with my website.
Food allergies come in many forms and some can be life-threatening. Some individuals’ allergies are so severe, they can experience anaphylactic shock and even die. So, as we help the world wake-up to the fact that food allergies are a serious matter, we also want to impress upon people how much people with food allergies are “just like you and me.” They want to experience all the best of life, at home, in school, at work and in the community without exclusion and without the fear of unexpected (potentially life-threatening) dangers in the form of foods.
It is my goal that the Different & Able Foundation will help many people and families affected with “difference”, increase awareness and raise people’s confidence. Individuals with disabilities can lead successful and able lives, including those with food allergies. Different & Able wants to show the world this!