Advocate for children and adults with disabilities
Mary Somoza is an Irish born mother of four children living in New York City. Two of her children, twins Alba and Anastasia, have cerebral palsy spastic quadriplegia and are wheelchair users. When her daughters were born in 1983, Mary was a recent immigrant to the United States. She believed that her "lack of knowledge" of the system was due to her not having grown up in America. She was wrong. The vast majority of people living in the United States do not have prior knowledge of the medical/education system. Parents of children who are born with a disability, some not evident at birth, are thrown into a netherworld of different bureaucracies of mind-boggling intricacies. No one is an expert, until you learn to become one - the hard way.
Mary's goal in starting this website, is to reach out to help families facing a myriad of issues that comes with the territory of raising a child with a physical, learning, cognitive or emotional disability. In fact, any disability. The rules and regulations are often the same across the different disability range. Knowledge is power, and not having to "reinvent the wheel" often saves families valuable time in understanding and being aware of what is out there and how to successfully advocate for their child. Mary has assisted families across the United States who while not living in New York faced the similar problems in their own state. Her pioneering work in special education, driven by her own determination to insure that her twin daughters received the best medical attention, and the best education possible, made her become a "peoples advocate" and one who constantly worked to not only achieve services for her own children, but for the thousands of others who benefited from her inroads into making the system more parent friendly. Recipient of numerous awards, appointee of Governors and Mayors, Mary is the quintessential parent advocate. A passion for justice, and equal rights for children and adults with disabilities, Mary works for the "bigger picture" of what might be ahead in your child's future. Advising and advocating for what parents want for their child, Mary believes that every child has more abilities then disabilities. Some of those abilities yet to be discovered. Children cannot afford to lose time, not with initial services, or with their education. Getting your child on the right track can be the difference between academic success, and falling behind.