Moms Making a Difference
Lisa Lightner, special needs advocate
Mother-of-two Lisa Lightner inspires moms of kids with special needs through the blog she co-authors, A Day in Our Shoes, and her work as a Chester County, PA advocate for kids with disabilities. MetroKids readers know her as a participant in MomSpeak, our award-winning contingent of mom bloggers.
What do you advocate? “I hope to make things better for kids with special needs,” Lightner says. “I want to help people to understand how children’s illnesses affect them. I’d like to help parents understand their child’s IEP. There’s a lot that we can do.” Her son, Kevin, 10, has severe epilepsy and intellectual challenges.
What’s your current focus? “There’s a rising belief that the government shouldn’t be as responsible, shouldn’t have as heavy a hand in helping people with disabilities,” she says. “Rather, it’s the responsibility of the families, charities and churches to take care of them. A lot of people are for smaller government, but unfortunately that hasn’t worked for disabled people in the past.
“We’ve needed the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). We’ve needed Medicaid. We’ve needed the protection of the Office of Civil Rights to guarantee an education.For example, a diabetic’s medication costs $2,000-$2,500 a month. Medicaid in Pennsylvania picks up what our primary insurance won’t pay for. Without it, families of diabetics would have that extra cost.”
How do you put your beliefs into action? “I try to rally my friends and followers to stay active, stay involved and stay noisy. People are often intimidated to speak up. We can’t wait. We can’t not speak up. At home, there’s role modeling, talking about the right thing to do and fighting for the underdog.”
What do you hope to achieve? “I would love for there to be a day when it’s not a ‘bad thing’ or sad to have a developmental challenge. Why is it sad that my son is how he is? There are a lot of people like him. It’s sad that we don’t teach all kids how to engage with a child like mine, befriend a child like mine. Acceptance is the problem.”
Advice for advocacy-minded moms? The Delaware Valley is a great area with lots of active communities, parent groups and organizations. You’re not alone here. If you want it, it’s out there. You just have to look for it.