Wednesday, October 23, 2013









Reminder: While there's lots to read on this site and I try to update it monthly, most of my regular, daily special needs updates now appear on my professional Facebook page.

You can find it here.

You can find my book here.



Words from Janet Froetscher, the new CEO of Special Olympics.

 "Now let's all work together to win."

Read more here.




Add caption










Halloween costumes for kids using wheelchairs.

'Tis the season to be creative!

Check them out here.
My friend actor Blair Williamson with Lauren Potter. Photo used with permission.


If like me, you've been wondering when that terrific actress/advocate, Lauren Potter, is going to make an appearance on the new season of GLEE, here's the scoop.

About time.




















In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, my friend, the talented actor/photog, Blair Williamson. 

Focused on ability.

Jammin at RicStar's Camp 2013.. Erik Taylor Photography. All rights reserved.


Mid-Week Reflection:

I've been focused on special needs advocacy/writing/speaking/parenting for more than two decades. While much work remains, I also recognize just how far we've traveled.

Years ago, I often felt like a lone voice in the special-needs wilderness. Thank God I had the stellar examples of the Shriver family & Special Olympics, and that of Christopher and Dana Reeve to fuel me on during the roughest parenting days.  

Like my son, they remain my heroes.

Today, when I see just how far we have come, all the voices that have joined mine, and the big progress that has been made for this population, I hyperventilate, in a good way. Years ago, I had some big mommy dreams and a huge commiment to righting some big wrongs.

I've seen many of those heartfelt dreams come true, but not enough. We must finally silence that question of whether or not those with exceptionalities, and their families, are worthy of our time, support, effort, resources and dollars.

They are, just like everybody else.

As long as I have a voice, I will always raise it to champion the dignity, equality, opportunities and rights of those with special needs, especially children. My life has been infinitely richer as a result of my son's unexpected special needs.

I won't rest until true equality and better life opportunities are assured for all those with exceptionalities, not a question of doubt and value.

How about you?

Want to make your life better? Serve others. Start with your own children and watch your impact grow. Your efforts will help create a brighter future for you, too.

That's worth every ounce of effort.

I know.







The 4th Annual Audi/Best Buddies walk/run event held recently in Washington, D.C. raised $2.5 million for Best Buddies.

See what can be accomplished when we join forces for good? It takes a village to help ensure the lives of those with exceptionalities are the best they can be.

Kudos to all involved in realizing this success.

Find out more here.

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

"Strength does not come from physical capacity.  It comes from indomintable will." -Mahatma Ghandi.





Tuesday, October 01, 2013




My answer to the partial government shutdown and shameless political antics holding this country hostage? Take the best special needs parents and let them govern.

They'll get things done in record time, for all the right reasons.






Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Life Lesson.

Life's toughest parenting lesson?

Letting go.

Don't further DISable your child. ENABLE him/her.

Can make a world of difference for you both.


Tuesday's Back-to-School Tip: 

As you send your babies off to school this emotional day, allow me to give you a new definition of the letters IEP: 

Increasingly Empowered Parent.

Feel better?

Now, go be one, and credit me for the new definition and resulting change.

Hah!





Thursday, August 29, 2013



Special Olympics introduces Powerful Youth Champion Video

With school about to take flight, why not encourage your child to become a Youth Champion with Special Olympics? 

Youth Champions help make a big difference in the lives of those with exceptionalities and in their communities, not to mention the powerful ways in which it changes their own lives.

Find out more here.

I absolutely love this video. Beautifully done.

Kudos, Special Olympics.
One Father's Response to the Cyrus/Thicke Debacle.  

I like everything he wrote, except the part about kicking his son down the street. I never condone potential child abuse.  

The rest, well said.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Have a Dream, Too, Dr. King.

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s March on Washington and his I Have a Dream speech, here is one from the archives.  

I originally posted it to honor Martin Luther King Day, but it stands for this important anniversary of King's work, too.

Our nation and world need to remember, badly.


Thank you, Dr. King.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013



People Worth Talking About:

Wife carries double-amputee husband.

Let's talk about this couple, not Miley Cyrus.

Friday, August 23, 2013


RicStar's Camp participant. Erik Taylor Photo.


Breaking News!

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill today that ends the R word use in Florida!

Can you say ground breaking?

Let the discussions begin. Rest assured, there will be people who don't get this. But huge moment.

Details here.
Judy Winter Image 2013. All rights reserved.



Reminder: I try to update this blog on a fairly regular basis, but most of my daily special needs posts now appear on my professional Facebook page. 

Here are the links to my current social networking sites pertaining to special needs. Be sure to pay them a visit!
Twitter: Judy Winter
Erik Taylor Photography








Every so often news come along that reminds us all how much work remains before those with exceptionalities are better understood and families given the necessary support they deserve/need to raise these children well in their own neighborhoods.

This is one of those heart-breaking reminders that created outrage in the Internet blogsphere/world this past week.

As for the offending neighbor who suggested a child with autism be euthanized,  my response is that clearly this person has a disability much worse than autism.

The story and resulting outrage have created valuable, timely discussion and another teachable moment.

That's not all bad.

Reach the story here.








Judy Winter Image 2013. All rights reseved.




Play Ball!!

Short piece about the inclusion of kids with exceptionalities in America's Favorite Pastime,

Watch it here.


Back-to-School Memories

With back-to-school prep gearing up, here's one of my fav past posts from the archives.

Still timeless. 

Maybe it will help fuel a new, annual b-t-s rite of your own. Maybe help your parenting perspective, too. 

Enjoy my Letter to Eric.









Worth the Share:

Five states selected to participate in five-year, Federally funded national study to see how to increase amount of time kids with special needs spend in regular classroom with peers without exceptionalities. 

Yes, please.

read it here.


John Agar crosses the finish line at the 2013 Ludington Lighthouse Triathlon with support of family and friends and pure determination. Photo by Judy Winter 2013. All rights reserved.

After walking across the finish line of the 2013 Ludington Lighthouse Triathlon, John Agar experiences joy. Photo Judy Winter 2013. All righs reserved.















FOCUSED ON ABILITY

My Michigan buddy, John Agar, walked across the finish line of the Ludington Lighthouse Triathlon in Ludington, Michigan last Sunday. 

No small feat.

John has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around most days. He walked the last mile of this race, as he has others, and crossed the finish line with the support of his family and a walker. 

That's John's proud dad on the right.

ESPN was there filming John's story for an upcoming feature.

John Agar is a remarkable young athlete. 

John wouldn't be where he is today without the dedicated and loving support of his remarkable family. They never doubt his value.

What goals are you setting for your child, and yourself, today?


If you want to include your child in races/triathlons, here's a great resource to help you do just that.









Jammin at the Eric 'RicStar' Winter Music Therapy Camp at Michigan State University. Photo by Erik Taylor. All rights reserved.


Time for some new posts here. Because I love music therapy and music therapists and all the good they do, especially for those with special needs, let's start with this report from CNN.

Friday, August 02, 2013

The Social Security Administration  becomes the latest governmental agency to replace the term mental retardation with intellectual disability.  Thank you.

Read more here.

I love progress.

Congratulations and big kudos to Special Olympics for 45 years of celebrating abilities and championing the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities. 

You've changed the world for all of us.

Thank you.


Special Note: Here's the latest regarding the announcement that President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will serve as Special Olympics Honorary Chairs of the 2015 Summer Games. Ground breaking to say the least. Celebrate!






Monday, June 24, 2013

Ladies of The Talk- Are You Listening?

Monday Mini Rant:

So, the ladies of The Talk took time today to discuss at length Paula Dean's wrongful and on-going use of the N word, as they should. Kudos for that conversation.

But, the gals uttered not one single word when guest Felicity Huffman said the word retarded on their program weeks ago, even though Huffman immediately apologized for her indiscretion.

This slur impacts millions of individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families worldwide. 

It, too, keeps ugly, outdated stereotypes alive and gets in the way of education, job opportunities and a better life. The r-word, too, is worthy of discussion.

So, let's get talkin, ladies.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


My Response to the Heated Whoopi Goldberg/Bill Mahrer/Sarah Palin R-Word Controversy

I don't have the energy today to get in the middle of the Whoopi Goldberg/Bill Maher/Sarah Palin r-word controversy, so I'll just share a ramble I wrote last year on this very topic. 

I now share these emotional, heartfelt words whenever this controversy rears it's less-than-pretty head. I do so in the hope it creates greater understanding and increased awareness of why the word is so offensive to millions of people worldwide, and why it has now been replaced with the word Intellectual Disability. 

By sharing, it's my attempt to further educate and be an effective special needs change agent, cause that's how I roll. 

You can read my rant here.

Only the names have changed.

Here's a little background info for you, too, to bring you up to speed. 







Monday, June 17, 2013


Reminder. I try to update here on a fairly regular basis, but most of my daily special needs posts now appear on my professional Facebook page. Here are the links to my current social networking sites pertaining to special needs.

Facebook: Special Needs Parenting Posts
Pinterest: Special Needs Parenting Board-Fav Resources
Twitter: Judy Winter







Monday A.M./P.M. Mantra:

It's OKAY to ask for help. What's your most pressing need this week? Go wrangle up the support you need to help meet that need. 

It's not a weakness to ask for help. Just the opposite. It's empowering.




Judy Winter Image 2013. All rights reserved.

Monday Spirit:

I missed sharing Sunday Spirit with you yesterday, so let's make it Monday Spirit instead. I think this quote is a good one for week-long motivation and daily living. Hope you agree.

"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every moment with love, grace and gratitude." 
-Denis Waitley.





Face of RicStar's Camp 2013!

Judy Winter Image. RicStar's Camp 2013. All rights reserved.

I know you want to see this amazing face of ability from RicStar's Camp 2013.

Evan Fiorella is one of our long-time, terrific RicStar's Camp participants from Canada. He is now studying music at Michigan State University's Community Music School through a specialized program. He asked me if I thought Eric (my son and camp namesake) could hear all the music campers were playing at camp and if he'd be proud. I answered by showing Evan a photo of himself that I had just taken of him in his rock session. Told him this was his answer.

Also told him he got extra points for looking like just another crazed MSU student.

Focused on Ability.


Monday A.M. Mini Rant:

So, it's Monday and I'm coming off an amazing high from watching so many people of all ages with exceptionalities showcase their hard-hard-won successes at RicStar's Camp

Today's headline/breaking news? Kim Kardashian had a baby girl. Pardon me if my brain/soul are having trouble balancing the two realities.

Famous for what, exactly?

Now, if her five pound little darlin ends up having any kind of special needs, we'll talk.

Mini rant over.





Wednesday, May 22, 2013






Got a great idea for a rehabilitation or assistive-technology device? You might get it funded. 


So You Think You Can Dance contestant, Shane Garcia, stutters and uses dance as language. 

He speaks volumes.

Watch here.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Random Thoughts:

"It's not your job to like me; it's mine." -Byron Katie




Judy Winter Image. All rights reserved.




A MOTHER'S DAY WISH

When it comes to sacred mommyhood, I've been twice blessed; hit the parenting jackpot both times. 

While Sunday's yearly focus on moms is now bittersweet for me because of my son's passing ten years ago, I'm honored to proclaim that I will always be the mother of two incredible children. Major life blessings. Don't underestimate how blessed you are, either, even during the roughest parenting moments.

My Mother's Day wish is that others see their children through new eyes of gratitude and possibilities. That would be a true gift.

Happy Mother's Day to me, and to you, too.


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Mother's Day Inspiration: Eunice Kennedy Shriver

"The gift my mother gave me was the gift of possibility. The gift that I could do anything that I wanted to do." -Maria Shriver

Wednesday WOW! Want/need a little mid-week inspiration? Watch this tribute to Eunice Kennedy Shriver from her daughter, Maria Shriver. 

Beautiful and powerful.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver wasn't my mom, but she will always be my hero and an on-going inspiration in my work and life. Wish I'd had the honor of meeting her.

Lucky Maria.
Photo courtesy of Special Olympics. Used with permission.




Wednesday's Weekly Words of Wisdom: Thomas Edison. 

"If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves."

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Thursday's Tip: 

Don't ignore kids with special needs at family gatherings. Work hard to include them and teach other family members to do the same.

If that requires training, teach them.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Challenging the Ladies of The Talk to Talk about Yesterdays' R-Word Controversy;

Here's what I posted at The Talk's Facebook page. You can add your voice, too. Please, speak up.
________________________________

As an author/speaker/activist on special needs issues, I was hoping you chatty ladies of 'The Talk' would address yesterday's R-word/Felicity Huffman controversy and your own lack of response to it after it happened on air. Unfortunately, you chose not to do so and instead spent time high fiving yourselves over your Emmy nominations (congrats, by the way). 

But I, and many others who care deeply about and advocate for the special needs population, are more than a little disappointed at your avoidance of the subject, especially since you do such a great job addressing other important human rights issues/topics.  This topic is no less important. 

We've come a long way regarding awareness and coverage of disability rights, but we've a long way to go as supported by your silence. Perhaps you'll revisit this R-word discussion//controversy in one of your upcoming programs. One can hope.

You have the voices to do so and it's a discussion worthy of your talk time.

So please, ladies, get talkin.

Here, once again, is a prior piece I wrote about why I find R-word use so offensive and hurtful and why I, like millions of others, advocate for not using the terminology. Only the names of the offenders have changed.




Great Summer Internship Op!!

Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Details, here.
A.D.H.D. or Sleep Deprivation?

What if your child (or an adult) doesn't really have A.D.H.D., but rather, a sleep disorder?

Fascinating read from Sunday's New York Times, and much food for parenting thought.

Get those kids to bed early, and yourself, too.



Wednesday's Word of Wisdom: Felicity Huffman re: her use of the word retarded on The Talk yesterday.

"So sorry about the R word. It's all I can think about; wish I could rewind and not use such an offensive term......I deeply apologize for my thoughtlessness and I ask for your forgiveness.....I have people who are very close to me that are mentally challenged and I believe in acceptance, love and inclusiveness. 

I messed up."

I'm pretty sure she heard from Eva Longoria, who has a sister with intellectual disabilities.


And this one, from Maya Angelou. "When you know better, you do better."

Forgiven.








Tuesday, April 30, 2013

FELICITY HUFFMAN USES THE R-WORD ON THE TALK

MINI RANT: YES, I WAS WATCHING THE TALK TODAY WHEN FELICITY HUFFMAN, WHOM I LOVE, USED THE WORD 'RETARDED' TO DESCRIBE HER OWN CHILDREN BECAUSE THEY ASKED IF MADONNA WAS AS POPULAR AS LADY GAGA. OOPS.

NERVOUS SILENCE.

THE SHOW HOSTS, WHO SPEND A LOT OF TIME TALKING ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF MANY GROUPS, TOTALLY IGNORED THE REMARK, SO THEY SHARE SOME SHAME/BLAME HERE, TOO. THAT SAID, HUFFMAN IMMEDIATELY TOOK TO TWITTERLAND TO ADMIT SHE SCREWED UP AND SHE APOLOGIZED, WHICH IS MORE THAN OTHER CELEBS HAVE DONE IN THE PAST.

I FORGIVE HER.  DO YOU?

READ HER WORDS OF REGRET, HERE.

MAYBE THE TALK CAN TALK ABOUT THIS FURTHER ON TOMORROW'S SHOW.



Friday, April 26, 2013

Lots of new special needs posts on my special needs Facebook page. Check them out! 

More posted here, soon.

Saturday, April 06, 2013










Sunday Spirit: "All know the way; few actually walk it." -Bodhidharma

Are you one of them?

Judy Winter Image 2013. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 05, 2013


Find my book here.





Find Me Online:

Reminder: While I am posting here regularly, most of my special needs daily posts now appear on my professional Facebook page. Here are the links to  my current social networking sites.

Facebook- Special Needs Parenting Posts
Pinterest- Special Needs Parenting Board-Fav Resources
Twitter-Judy Winter
Tumblr-Winter Visions: pretty things. pretty words. pretty images. General interest blog.

Read Aloud for 15 minutes!!

I like. I share. I like this resource because I love reading. I believe strongly in the value of reading daily to your child, including to those with exceptionalities. I did it with my son and it became one of our most precious times of the day. I know it impacted his learning in positive ways, especially when I intentionally messed up the words to Dr. Seuss books. 

I can still hear the laughter. 

Please, read to your children!! 15 minutes. That's all. If you need to start out small because of attention issues, etc., do so and then build on that success. You and your child have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

If you are struggling with your own literacy issues, making this effort difficult or impossible, seek support. Start with your local library. It's okay to ask for the help you need. 

It will change your child's life and yours, too.












Tuesday, April 02, 2013





Today is World Autism Awareness Day: Light It Up Blue!


I love my state. I love my bridge. What is your state doing to Light It Up Blue for today's World Autism Awareness Day? 

What are you doing?

Monday, April 01, 2013

Did You Know? 
Tomorrow, April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day.April is Autism Awareness Month. 

Find out more, here.

Light It Up Blue.

Image courtesy of Autism Speaks.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Dwarfism and OZ the Great and Powerful

Kristin Riley plays a Munchkin in the new blockbuster Oz the Great and Powerful. The 31-one-year old Michigander has a rare condition called primordial dwarfism. Riley is 3 foot five inches tall.

Read more here.

Focused on Ability.







Good Friday Blessing

Perfect weekend for me to proclaim that without faith, I would never have survived the brutal hits life has served up and I certainly wouldn't be passionate about serving others. My footing is less steady and sure than it once was, but I'm much less naive and less selfish and much more forgiving and quieter, humbling in itself. I believe what I cannot prove and that has made all the difference.

Good Friday blessing.

Where do you draw your strength?

Judy Winter Photography 2013. All rights reserved.








Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Recap of 2013 End-the-Word Campaign: Celebrity Twitter Support:

For me, this is an especially powerful view. I've worked so hard for so long to see this kind of media/celebrity focus/support placed on important human rights awareness for the special needs population and for my son, including the growing push to end use of the word retarded. 

The big-name support voiced on this video represents huge progress. My hope is you'll add your vote for RESPECT, too.

Make no mistake. Words do hurt, especially the r-word.


Monday, March 25, 2013


Judy Winter Photography. All rights reserved.


In honor of National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, my son, Eric Richard Winter.

Gone, but never forgotten.
Your music lives on, always.

A Tale of True Friendship. Michigan State University Basketball Star, Adreian Payne, and One of His Biggest, Little Fans, Lacey Holsworth.

Little Spartan Fan. Judy Winter Image 2013.







Here's a side of sports I like and a March Madness story worth your time. It's a moving friendship born of mutual life adversity. Lacey Holsworth had neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. Michigan State University Basketball star athelete, Adreian Payne, has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and has worked hard to overcome the naysayers.

As an MSU alum, I couldn't be prouder. I hope both, stay strong.

Watch Lacey's story, here.
Read more about Adreian Payne, here.

Whose life will you impact this week?




Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Pooch of the People Celebrates World Down Syndrome Day

Jack is rockin his socks for today's World Down Syndrome Day! Then, we're off to school to read to the kids for March is Reading Month. Plus, it's also Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. March is a busy time for this advocate and the Pooch of the People. But we're up for the challenge, right Jack?

Who are you advocating for today?

Judy Winter Image. All rights reserved.