Eight Ways to Support the Differently Abled Community on the Seacoast!


As a mom to a kiddo with Down Syndrome, I see firsthand how a child with differing abilities positively impacts a neurotypical child. Families who experience disability NEED your help to walk this life! Moving through the world in community makes everyone better. And I promise, being a part of the Seacoast differently abled community benefits your neurotypical child, too!

kid playing wheelchair basketball - ways to support the differently abled community on the SeacoastHere are some ways to be a part of and support the differently abled community on the Seacoast. 

1. Attend Unified Sports Games

Lots of our local high schools have sports during the school year that allow individuals with differing abilities, who typically wouldn’t be on a team, to play. The teams are made up of a mix of individuals, and they are so fun to watch! I’ve never cheered so hard for people I don’t know at all. It also will teach your kids (and maybe you—I’m talking to my crazy competitive self), a lesson about having fun and the real spirit of sport.

2. Check out your local Special Olympics!

Hundreds of competitions are held annually, some are community-based, others are school-based programs, all of them are AMAZING. This is one of the most fun ways to support the differently abled community on the Seacoast.

3. Change your language

Stop using the R word. “Oh, I’m such retard!” I COULD not believe the words that were coming out of her mouth. I seriously thought no one said that anymore. I’ve been immersed in the collegiate environment for eight years now, and it is SO not okay to say that here. But in spending more time in my community, with my son, I realize why it seems like every other week students are running a Spread the Word to End the Word

Person first language. As a parent of a child with Down syndrome, I didn’t think this would bother me. But, it does. My son has Down syndrome. He is not a “Downs kid”, he is a dearly loved child. Deeply cherished. He looks like me and he knows how to make people laugh. He runs faster than most two year-olds and loves grapes, cinnamon toast, and yogurt. And he happens to have an extra chromosome. Please stand with me in recognizing that he is first and foremost a person. Person first language means you name the child (or person) first. Example: “a child with Downs” vs. “a Downs Child”. 

4. Go to Best Buddies events on campus at UNH

Best Buddies is a student organization at UNH (and at many universities) that pairs college students with differently abled community members. They host activities for the pairs through out the year. But they also host community events, like a Fashion Show every year!

5. Advocate during school board meetings

Parents of kids with differing abilities often find themselves on an island: alone, and working SO hard for their kids. Yes, our kids do take up a larger portion of the school’s budget than some of their peers. Yes, the supports and services that they require (and that the federal government says they are entitled to) are EXPENSIVE. Please, be brave and advocate alongside these parents. If you’re not motivated by compassion, maybe you’re motivated by money. Studies show that these early and school-based interventions will save tax-payers tons of money because if we can care for these friends now there will likely be less needs later in life.

6. Read Inclusive books

There’s a new wave of books out there that are inclusive! Here are some of my suggestions.

The Possibilities of Disabilities by Jacqueline Child

Thoughtfull by Dorena Williamson

Just Ask by Sonia Sotomayor

7. Get more information!

Information is power, right? Are you curious to know more about the state of disability affairs here in the Seacoast? Then I’ve got some ideas for you at all commitment levels. I’d venture to say if you’ve made it this far in this post, you’ve got some kind of interest!

Are you a professional? Consider Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND). This federal program runs every year, in every state. If you have Bachelor’s degree you are able to apply to the program in order to be trained in the area of Neurodevelopmental Disabilities. This is not to be taken lightly. It’s like having a part-time job, but TOTALLY worth it. Oh, and it’s a paying job!

Follow New Hampshire Family Voices on Facebook. Family Voices is a Family to Family network, these state-based programs offer support, resources, and research for all kinds of medical needs individuals experience. They are on the forefront of awareness and inclusion.

8. Buy gifts from companies run by individuals with differing abilities!

They have some of the cutest stuff! Supporting individuals with differing abilities is SO important. Did you know that many individuals with differing abilities are paid below minimum wage. Plus, some are not paid at all? Federally we are fighting for minimum wage for individuals with differing abilities. Support this effort by recognizing that these friends are talented and have something beautiful to contribute to our society.

Dance Happy Designs– for anything canvas: totes, bags, pillows, journals

Collettey’s– for cookies, shipped directly to you from Boston, MA!

Sevy Marie Art– for fun abstract art pieces.

From the deepest parts of my heavy mama heart, thank you so much for standing with us! We want the same for our kids that you want for yours. We want them to be loved, included, thought of, and worthy.