Each year, July is officially recognized as Disability Pride Month, which The Arc US explains as “an opportunity to honor the history, achievements, experiences, and struggles of the disability community.” July is specifically chosen due to the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which this year will be celebrating its 33rd anniversary.
During Disability Pride Month, the voices of people with disabilities and their experiences, as well as those of their loved ones and caregivers, are spotlighted. In keeping with this spirit, we have chosen to feature here four friends of The Arc of Massachusetts who have written extensively about the disability experience.
Gyasi Burks-Abbott is a writer, public speaker, and autism self-advocate. In addition to serving on several boards, committees, and commissions of several autism and disability organizations, Gyasi is a faculty member at Boston Children’s Hospital Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program. A graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, with a BA in English and psychology, he earned an M.S. in Library and Information Science from Simmons University in Boston. Gyasi is a published author, of a book about his life called My Mother’s Apprentice: An Autistic’s Rites of Passage.
Bracha Horovitz is a first-generation Israeli, a mother, entrepreneur, and businesswoman. Having served in the Israel Defense Forces and then becoming a runner-up in the Miss Israel beauty pageant, she went on to earn a degree in textile engineering. She has lived and worked in the United States while raising her children, including her son Ronny, who was born with severe disabilities. Bracha continues to advocate for parents with disabled children and the organizations who help them. In Soldier On: A Woman’s Memoir of Resilience and Hope, Bracha Horovitz reveals her many roles as a modern woman: daughter, soldier, wife, mother, businesswoman, and advocate for children with disabilities.
Susan Senator is a writer, activist, and the mother of three boys. Her books include Autism Adulthood: Insights and Creative Strategies for a Fulfilling Life and The Autism Mom’s Survival Guide. Her adult son, Nat, was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, and she has been advocating for people with autism ever since. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Jonathan Spiller, a presenter with The Arc’s Pathways to Friendship program, has co-written a book on relationships between people with disabilities with his girlfriend, Esther Greenspan. This heartwarming memoir in words and photos tells their story. In eighteen short, revelatory chapters, the authors describe their intimate bond and reveal their genius for connection: laughing, crying, and celebrating together, writing poetry and singing to each other, communing with their canine companion, soothing each other’s fears and sorrows, listening to each other’s dreams. Along the way, they offer their special wisdom about life, love, gratitude, kindness, spirit, and courage. Special Soulmates will inspire readers to open their hearts to the power and joy of unconditional love—and to have faith that no obstacles will stand in its way.