Saturday, January 10, 2009

Picture This! Faces of Ability-Jan. 09: Presenting Micah Fialka-Feldman & Cognitive Disabilities

Looking for some New Year's parenting motivation and inspiration? 

Look no further than Micah Fialka-Feldman, a terrific young man who refuses to let cognitive challenges get in the way of his dreams, including those of attending college. 

There's no way in this short post that I can highlight everything Micah has accomplished in twenty-two short years of life. But here's enough to let you know why I've chosen him as my first Faces of Ability for January 2009. You can find out more at Micah's website. 
According to information on his website, Micah Fialka-Feldman, thrived in inclusive education from elementary through his high school years, supported by the general and special education staff, including paraprofessionals, peer tutors (LINKS), a Circle of Friends, and with creative modifications and accommodations in classes. Micah excels in the use of computers. 

Among his many high school accomplishments, Micah received a Varsity Letter in Cross Country/Track and was a member of the Homecoming Court. In 2004 Micah received the Michigan CEC “Yes, I Can” award for self-advocacy and was invited to be part of the National Youth Leadership Forum in 2002. Micah calls himself a proud National Board Member of Kids As Self Advocates (KASA) ( He's a national speaker on inclusion and inclusive post secondary experiences, and has provided keynote addresses for several educational conferences including in Tennessee, Iowa and Michigan.

Since 2003, Micah has been a student at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, where he sits in on classes and has joined several student organizations. His college experiences have been documented in a popular film entitled: Through the Same Door: Inclusion Includes College, which has received the 2006 TASH Image Award.Here's part of what Micah has to say about his dream to attend college, just like everybody else. Click here to read the complete piece and more of Micah's Writings.
I Wanted to Go to College and My Dream Came Truby Micah Fialka-Feldman

"I wanted to go to college and my dream came true. Here’s what happened. 

I always wanted to be with my friends. When I was in first grade I was in a special classroom. It was okay but I wanted to be with my friends, so I told my mom and dad that I wanted to go into the same door at school that all the other kids were going in. They helped me do that.

Then, when I got older, I started thinking about what college I wanted to go to. My friends wanted to go to college and I wanted to do the same thing. Since I was little I’ve been going to the University of Michigan football games with my Papa. I learned about college from going to the games and seeing the kids have a good time. They looked happy. I have always been included in regular classes so I wanted to stay in regular classes after high school. When I was in sixth grade I had a MAP (Making Action Plans). My friends, teachers, and parents helped me think about my dreams for my future. One of my friends said that I would go to college. I liked hearing that because that was my dream. 

I want to work in politics, maybe in government or at our state capital. I also like current events and I like to do public speaking at conferences, universities, and other places. I tell people about inclusion, disability rights and self advocacy. I can learn about these things in college and be with my peers. 

I didn't want to go to a segregated program after high school."..........

Congratulations and thanks, Micah, for showing us all that you can do!

Above photos/DVD cover, writings, used with permission.  Photo at top is  Micah with his family, Rich Feldman, sister Emma Fialka-Feldman and his mom, Janice Fialka, MSW, ACSW, author of The Dance of Partnership. You can find our more about Janice Fialka's important work to create better special needs partnerships between families and professionals at Dance of Partnership.

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