Stress-Free Moving Strategies for People with Disabilities

By Gloria Martinez from

Moving is an exciting time for many. After buying a new home, moving day can seem like ages away, even if it’s only a month or two. It’s common to feel a bit of stress, but if you have a disability, the stress of moving can be even greater. Fortunately, with these tips from Our Special Village, you can make the process much easier and less stressful.

How to Prepare for Your First Purchase

When you’re planning to buy a home for the first time, you should first check your credit score. You have three main scores that a mortgage company might look at during the loan process. You’ll get a better interest rate with a higher credit score. 

Before you start applying for mortgages, get all your paperwork in order. Lenders will ask you to send copies of important documents, and your application won’t proceed without them. Some possible paperwork they may need includes:

  • Two years of tax returns
  • Paystubs
  • Canceled rent checks

Always hire a reputable real estate agent. You want an experienced guide who knows all the ins and outs of buying a home and the neighborhood you’re shopping in so the process is as easy as possible throughout your home buying journey. Make sure you have someone who’s understanding and who’ll be more than willing to take your disability into consideration.

Prior to getting a mortgage, make sure you know how much you can spend each month. As a general rule, never spend more than 28% of your total income on your mortgage. You should also check into any first-time home buyer programs and any programs for the disabled, including home modification grants. 

How to Find the Perfect Home

Now that you know how much you can realistically spend, you can start searching for a house. Make a list of needs and wants before you start. This will help you stay focused and on budget.

Some potential wants could be a fireplace or pool, while a need might be that the house is only one story to accommodate your disability. A house may not have all your wants and needs, so you might need to consider whether it could tick all the boxes with some minor modifications in the future. 

Hiring a Moving Company

If you’re considering hiring a moving company, you should carefully compare businesses. Look for reviews online and see what previous customers are saying about the local moving companies.

Contact each company for a quote once you have a general idea of how much you’ll be transporting. Knowing this expense could save you from an unpleasant surprise. Keep in mind that you may qualify for a relocation grant due to your disability. 

Packing Made Easy

You don’t have to race to pack all your stuff in a few days. Start as soon as you know you’re closing and pack little by little. Go from room to room as you pack and focus on packing one section of each room at a time. When you pack in sections and label everything, you’ll make unpacking a breeze. 

Relax and Stay Focused 

Utilize these tips, try to relax, and make sure you stay focused. The moving process can be stressful, especially with a disability, but it’ll be worth it in the end. 

Children and Art: Helping Kids With Disabilities Discover Their Creative Passions

By Gloria Martinez from

Gloria Martinez loves sharing her business expertise and hopes to inspire other women to start their own businesses and seek promotions in the workplace. She created to spotlight and celebrate women’s achievements.

From watching their favorite shows to singing their favorite songs, children are almost always engaging with the arts — and this includes children with disabilities. Here are ways you can involve children with disabilities in the arts to help them discover themselves and their interests. 

Create Artwork

Handmade art is an excellent way for kids with disabilities to express their creativity. The possibilities are endless, and all they need to get started are some basic supplies and a blank canvas. Whether they’re into painting, drawing, or sculpting, your kid can find a medium that engages their creative and physical skills. Also, plenty of applications and programs are available for children who prefer to create digital art.

For children who use wheelchairs, wheelchair painting may be a fun way for them to create art. Sometimes called “wheelchair action art,” this method involves covering the wheels in washable paint and maneuvering over a canvas to create a unique piece of art. If your child has other friends who use wheelchairs, you can get the kids together to do a larger, collaborative piece of artwork.

Try Dance

With so many styles of dance, children with disabilities have numerous options for discovering the one that’s best for them. Introduce your child to different types of dance, such as ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and tap. YouTube is a great place to get ideas and show your child videos of performances to get them interested in dance. Develop choreography with your child’s unique abilities in mind, and assure them that steps can be modified to fit their comfort level or preferences.

Additionally, consider enrolling them in a dance class specially designed for children with disabilities. This way, your child can learn new skills and also interact with other children with disabilities. New York City Ballet hosts workshops for children with a range of physical disabilities to expose them to dance in a safe, supportive environment.

Learn an Instrument

Let your kids make a joyful noise with musical instruments. Music can be an especially great outlet for children with intellectual disabilities. Use online marketplaces to find gently used or refurbished instruments, and look for free digital sheet music. Start by having your child learn simple songs, and let them work their way up to more advanced material. In addition to the sense of accomplishment, learning an instrument gives kids the opportunity to perform and work on overcoming their anxiety.

Turn Teaching Into a Business

If you’ve got a real knack for teaching your own kids about the arts, you may consider starting a business to help more children with disabilities explore their artistic talents. Register your business as an LLC to take advantage of the tax benefits and legal protections this type of corporation offers. Check New York LLC registration laws and use a formation service to save on startup costs.

Art for All

When given the proper tools and encouragement, children with disabilities can thrive in creative endeavors. The key is helping them find their niche and giving them the space to freely discover their passions and interests. For more information on how you can support your child with disabilities, visit Our Special Village.

Image via Pexels

The Toxic Work Environment and PTSD: Triggers

You wake up in the morning and the sound of the alarm already makes you feel sick to your stomach.  You get up anyway, but you have this feeling of unease that you carry around with you as you approach your car and drive to the train station.  While driving, you try to focus on the road, the wonderful sun that is starting to peek out, the trees that are showing their bloom.  Spring is surely approaching.

However, once you park your car and walk towards the train station, something feels awry.  The feel-good emotions that you were able to capture in your car are now gone. The closer you get to the train station, the clearer the feeling becomes again.  You feel nauseated, lightheaded, and just want to run back home.  But you don’t.  You push through your uncomfortable feelings, get on the train, and let it take you one step closer to work.

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Sound familiar?  This used to happen to me all the time.  The alarm clock, the train station, and many other experiences or objects in my life became “triggers,” or associations that my body made with “work.”  The alarm signaled the arrival of a new day, and a new day spent at a place where I would be subjected to constant criticism and walking on eggshells.  The walk to the train station was obviously felt with the doom of an impending day. There were so many objects and experiences that would make me feel downright sad and depressed! Honestly, too many to count: The clothes I wore, the salad I ate, the snow in the morning…

The bad news about triggers is that even after I left that toxic workplace, they still lingered in my body.  My mind could not process the difference between just a regular walk to the train station when I would just be visiting friends, and the sense of dread that I felt every time I had to do this to go to work.  Needless to say, I felt so many triggers throughout the day!  This was specially true the first year after I quit  my toxic job.  I had to get an entire new wardrobe so that I wouldn’t have to wear the same clothes I wore when I went to work.  Every time I looked at them, I felt nauseated.  And I used to love those clothes!  But under the pressure of such a bully boss they took a different meaning.

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The good news is that all of that, little by little, began to change.  I noticed that even though my mind knew that I was no longer in an untenable position (as a matter of fact, I was quite happy and successful in my new life!), my body did not know the difference between my current situation and my past one.  I had to make a true effort if I wanted to break out of this cycle. PTSD does not disappear in a day. I had to consciously train myself to undo the damage that being in that toxic environment had caused. 

I was really up to me to make these changes.  Just like when I decided to walk out on my employer of almost 22 years, this time I enlisted a good dose of truth and courage to see myself on the other side. I know that you can do it to: You can leave your toxic work behind and find your new self on the other side.

Is this happening to you?  Tell me how I can help you.  Leave me a comment, join my Facebook group, or learn more about finally making the decision to leave here.

Best of luck!

The Toxic Work Environment and PTSD: Why Do I Get Sick So Often?

A toxic work environment can cause PTSD.  Period.  When psychologists first became aware of the set of symptoms that they later described as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), they assigned it to individuals that had been through extreme trauma, such as soldiers coming home from the warzone, or victims of crime.  The more traumatic, the more likely the individual will start feeling these set of symptoms.

This continues to be true today, as many people who go through these traumatic situations tend to later on experience symptoms related to PTSD.  However, in the last few years, psychologists began to see that it is not necessary to have experienced great trauma in order to experience PTSD.  In fact, there are people that are subjected to heightened states of stress and hyper-awareness on a daily basis, and they too experience many of the symptoms that victims of crime had experienced.  Psychologists began to notice that people who had been subjected to bullying can develop PTSD too.

You may be aware of the stories where the bullied individual takes his/her life.  Imagine the amount of stress that that person may have been under.  But bullying is not confined to certain places or certain age groups.  Bullying can happen anywhere and at any age, and if it is happening to you, you shouldn’t feel ashamed.  You should know that there is help and it all starts with recognizing the situation and understanding it so that you can take the steps to leave that situation behind.

Many people who experience a toxic work environment, often because of a bully boss wonder why they get sick so often.  The answer is quite simple.  You may have heard of the “fight or flee” reaction.  It typically means that when your body is under stress, it tends to react to protect you from danger.  Your body does not know the difference between being attacked by a lion and being reprimanded for the tenth time by your bully boss.  Your body thinks it’s under attack and needs to protect your life. 

When your body is constantly under stress, and you feel like you are inside a pressure cooker, your body goes into survival mode and wants to either fight the danger or flee it.  But as you sit in your cubicle, or in your home office, or wherever your place of work happens to be, you realize that you can do neither and your body continues to produce stress hormones.

These stress hormones are there to make you hyper-aware of the situation and to safeguard your life, and even though they are adaptive and very useful when you are in actual danger (as in the example above, when you are about to be eaten by a lion), they are dangerous when you experience them every day.  Your body’s immunity will slowly decrease, and you will start feeling and getting sick much more often than you had in the past.

You may have heard my story before.  I explain a little bit of what happened to me here.  I left that toxic place behind and so can you.  I can assure you that you will be better in the end.  I used to get sad thinking about what I left behind.  Today, my thinking has shifted completely, and I am nothing but thankful for the opportunity that leaving a toxic work environment has brought to my life.

Remember, you can do it too! (Join my free Facebook group right here)

Equality & First Aid: Let’s Talk Choking Emergencies!

This past Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving, one of the most beloved American holidays.  It happens to be also my favorite holiday, a time to cook to my heart’s content and to get together with family and friends to share wonderful dishes together.  This year however, because of the tireless work of Equal First Aid, I became painfully aware of the need to emphasize the fact that people with disabilities, in particular those who use a wheelchair, don’t have easy access to first aid if they are choking.

This year, I couldn’t avoid thinking about all those instances when a wonderful family occasion, whether it’s Thanksgiving or any other get-together, could result in unforeseen consequences.  This is particularly true for people in wheelchairs.  It is for this reason that the organization Equal First Aid is advocating for first aid that addresses this situation.  Choking is one of those emergency situations that not only requires training, but also necessitates certain positioning that would be nearly impossible to accomplish in a few seconds if the choking victim is in a wheelchair.  The Heimlich maneuver is not as easy as it may seem for some people given certain personal circumstances,  or for people in wheelchairs, in the case of a choking emergency.

A few weeks ago, when I had the pleasure of meeting with the people of Equal First Aid, we discussed what can be done in our immediate community to change this reality and make sure that everyone has access to lifesaving measures.  I thought that by contacting people that I knew and worked with, who wholeheartedly believe in equal opportunities for all, and making them aware of this situation, it would be easy to get this rectified.

To my surprise, I found that people are either not interested or skeptical about changing the status quo.  I am not sure why, but it looks as if first aid is not a priority in people’s minds.  Perhaps it’s the kind of issue that nobody wants to think about because there are no easy answers, and it is just too painful.  But it doesn’t have to be!

LifeVac has been producing airway clearing devices for a few years now.  They are providing the answers to the tough questions we all must answer regarding equality in first aid.  Airway clearing devices are very simple to use and work for EVERYONE, including those of us who have difficult applying and receiving the Heimlich maneuver.  Anyone who has every operated a plunger can operate this device.

Do you want to see this device in action?  Check out this video here of this family who experienced a choking emergency with their baby at a restaurant.  I promise it will make you think twice about first aid. Do you want to know more about Equal First Aid and their mission?  Check them out here.  Do you want to have this difficult conversation about something we should all make a priority?  Check out the LifeVac device right here.

Give the gift of life this holiday season!  Give yourself peace of mind!

Therapists needed!

Are you an early childhood special education teacher?  A speech/language pathologist?  Are you an occupational therapist?  A physical therapist?  Are you interested in working with young children?  If so, I would like to invite you to try the field of early intervention.  I have been working with the early intervention program in New York State for about 20 years now, and it has been nothing short of fulfilling and amazing. 

What is the early intervention program?  Special education law (PL 94-142) provides for services for young children, from birth until 3 years of age, and their families, in Part C of the law.  Parents refer their children to the program if they feel that they are lagging behind in their expected milestones.  Children get evaluated based on those areas of concern.  When the evaluations are completed, if the child qualifies for early intervention services based on the results of the evaluation, a meeting with the early intervention agency and the family will take place, and they will agree on a plan of action to work on.

This plan is very family-centered and it takes into account the fact that the child’s life really centers around the family.  It also takes into account what the family needs so that the skills the child learns while in therapy are carried over to activities in the home.  After all, the hallmark of learning is being able to transfer knowledge and skills from one activity to another.

(Learn more about the early intervention program)

If you live in New York, like me, and you are interested in working as a therapist for the early intervention program you should be aware that most cases (and all cases in you live in New York City) get assigned to you with the help of an agency.  The agency has access to all the cases that need to be assigned to a therapist and their job is to try to bring services to the family as soon as services are approved.  Sometimes, cases can even be assigned really early in the process, so once they are approved, the family does not have to wait to receive services.  It is a win-win situation for all parties involved!

In my years working as a special instructor for the early intervention program, I have worked with different agencies but the one that always stood out not only because of the services they provide but also because they understand their most important asset is the therapists that work with the families, is KinderKare.  I truly recommend them (and I have sent a few therapists their way) for anyone that is seeking a career in early intervention.  You make your own schedule and you decide your own hours!

If you are interested in working with Kinderkare, you can find their information here.  You can always contact me if you have any questions!

Best of luck in your professional pursuits!

A Summer of Happiness (And Messes!)

This is a sponsored post. Opinions expressed in this post are my own.

What a summer it has been!  For many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it has been a time to finally enjoy the weather and the company of other people.  After having spent so many months limited by the activities we were able to do, because of weather and because of the situation with the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us started to return to some type of “normal” and it felt good!

For me, it was an eventful summer.  I can happily report that after spending almost 20 months apart, I was finally able to see my mother and brother.  They had been unable to travel because of my brother’s inability to wear a mask.  But all of that changed thanks to a very dedicated therapist who after a few months was able to help him tolerate its use (more on this later).  By the spring we were pretty confident that he would be able to wear a mask and travel back to the United States along with my mother!

Enjoying an afternoon outdoors with my mom, my brother Fernando, and his therapist, Silvina.

Having them around has been a dream come true.  But having more people in the house means having more to clean!  As you may know by now, I am not worried when it comes to cleaning and washing.  This is because I have found products that I trust . These products help keep my clothes clean, get rid of pesky stains, and are not loaded with harsh chemicals. I’m talking about my go-to Biz and KidsNPets have the enzyme cleaning power that makes my clothes cleaner and brighter without the harshness of chemicals.

I hosted a few parties in the past few weeks, and I had to deal with quite a few grass, wine, and food stains.  Biz is the product I went to when dealing with these messes.  The enzymes built in this product help fight tougher stains and keeps my clothes nice and bright. It is easier to let your family enjoy the weather outside when you have products you can trust. I could not have done it without the help of these products. It was a busy summer!

Did you go to any parties this summer?  Did you have to deal with pesky stains?  I can’t think of any instance when I didn’t have to fight any stains myself.  Biz and KidsNPets always came to the rescue to make sure that clothes would look clean no matter how tough the stain was.

Give them a try!

Are You in a Toxic Work Environment? 5 Signs To Look For.

You are probably exhausted.  You are tired of the constant criticism and sometimes feel like crying when you get home from work.  You have a knot in your stomach every time the train approaches the station for work.  Are you in a toxic work environment?

Chances are, if you are experiencing any of the situations above, you probably are.  In fact, once you start feeling that way, you are most likely already experiencing some of the first signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Learn to recognize the signs of a toxic work environment so that you can plan your exit if you have to.

What are the signs to look for?

  1. Your boss gives you “busy-work” that does not advance an agenda:  One way that bullies exert their influence over their targets is by assigning work of no consequence.  For example, I worked with an employee who was being told that since her grammar was not “up to par,” (neither was her boss’ grammar), she needed to prove, every day, how she would improve her grammar, by reading, training, going to classes.  The employee’s grammar was just fine, but the boss was trying to put her down and assign her something that would not advance her agenda.  The employee was so humiliated by this and other acts that ended up leaving in the end.
  2. Your boss is overly critical.  Does your boss criticize you for small, insignificant things?  I worked with an employee whose boss criticized her for wearing a shirt that was “too big” or “too red.”  I also worked with someone whose boss criticized her for being “too sweet,” (she worked with families and children).  Their bosses sought any excuse to criticize them in order to make them uncomfortable and anxious, not because there was any reason to criticize them at all.
  3. You constantly feel like you are walking on eggshells.  You don’t know what to do as the rules keep changing. You see that certain rules apply to you but they don’t apply to your coworkers.  And there are rules that apply sometimes, and other rules that apply at other times.  You are surrounded by uncertainty, and even though uncertainty is part of life, it is completely maximized at your workplace in order to increase the anxiety levels. 
  4. Rules don’t apply to everyone the same.  Technically, rules should apply to every employee fairly.  In toxic work environments, some rules apply to some employees and not others.  I worked with an employee who had to submit every decision to her boss, who decided whether she could go ahead and implement her decision, or not.  This happened while others in the same position did not have to go through the same procedures. 
  5. You are constantly being accused of “subpar” work.  And this will happen even when you are submitting quality work that gets dismissed, and while other people submit questionable work that gets accepted.  I once sat at a meeting where a boss questioned every single one of the teams’ accomplishments, making fun of the members of the team, and saying that she did not believe that they could have accomplished the goals.  Every single one of the members of that team resigned in protest.

I went through this experience myself.  I experienced it firsthand.  My boss started bullying me precisely when our project was starting to gain recognition and showed the first few signs of success.  It was precisely this success that led to myself and my team to be the targets of a boss that only cared about her own standing in the organization. 

If you have identified some of the signs above in your own work situation, you are probably in a toxic workplace.  Do you want to know more about my experience and how I was able to get out of it?  Do you need help identifying the situation and need help planning the exit?  Follow my plan here.

Best of luck!

Life’s Stains and Odors: Biz

This is a sponsored post. As always, opinions are my own.

It is almost July and summer is here!  It seems that this summer (2021) people are really looking to get out and do all the things that they were not able to do a year ago, at the height of the Covid -19 pandemic.  I know for myself, my family, and mostly everyone I know, it was a summer when we basically all stayed home. 

This year, we are starting to travel again, and I am not an exception.  Tomorrow (yes, tomorrow!), my husband and I leave for California, to see family that we have not seen for over a year.  It is such a treat!  But with travelling comes packing, and with packing comes the realization that some of the clothes that we were waiting to have an occasion to wear for so long have stains (and perhaps odors) that we need to get rid of, and fast.

Getting ready to travel!

This year I started using enzyme cleaners and washes for my clothes and items that I care about.  There is nothing better to do the job than an enzyme cleaner.  Enzyme cleaners are natural and do not contain all those harsh chemicals that you typically find in other washes.  This time around, as I was doing cleaning (and a lot of it) to prepare for my upcoming trip, and also to prepare to receive guests in my house, I came across clothes that had been put away a little bit too long, needed a serious wash, and some of them (like the shirt below), that were bordering on the yellow.

Rather than wash them these clothes over and over again or subject them to harsh chemicals, I used Biz Powder to treat them, and voila!  Clothes look and smell clean!

I saved this lovely shirt!

If you are looking for a better way to wash, that will work with nature rather than against it, choose the one without the harsh chemicals.  Biz (I used Biz Powder, but there are other products) is an excellent way to make sure that your detergent does it job by adding enzymes that treat all those pesky stains and combat odors to boot.

If you are a busy mom or dad and are looking to counteract all those messy messes that your children leave behind, then this is the cleaner for you.  Go get one and try it!  Let me know how you liked it!

Happy washing!

The OxiClean Stain Pen

This is a sponsored post. As always, opinions are my own.

One of my fears when I go out to work for the day is that I will have a huge stain on my clothes that I won’t be able to remove.  Trust me, it has happened to me on more than one occasion. As a busy children’s therapist, I tend to eat in my car, in a tiny space, sometimes munching on something while I’m driving.

I typically hear the same complaint when I visit a home.  Many moms and dads spend a lot of time doing laundry, washing their little one’s clothes only to wash them over and over again.  And even though children, especially toddlers, can get into big messes, sometimes parents end up washing clothes just for a little stain! 

Does this ever happen to you?  It happens to me a lot.  I can’t tolerate “little” stains on my clothes, and they usually end up in the laundry, even after having been worn a couple of hours.  I have tried other stain pens and sticks before, even from reputable brands, but I have to say the OxiClean Stain Pen really did the trick for me when we went to Boston.  It was a short trip and I only brought one pair of jeans.  I love this pair of pants because they are super comfortable and fit me exactly right.

Was I surprised when I took off my pants after a restaurant visit and saw a stain there!  I was planning to wear them the next day, as they are so comfortable, and we had an entire day planned, touring and visiting various sites in the city of Boston.  I didn’t want to wear anything formal but I didn’t want to wear yoga pants either.  This pair of jeans was perfect. 

Luckily, I had my OxiClean Stain Pen!  I used it to remove the stain (I basically saw it disappear in front of my eyes) and let it dry.  This was late at night and by the morning my pants were absolutely clean.  The stain was gone!

The OxiClean Stain Pen is always in my purse!

Today, I carry my OxiClean Stain Pen in my bag every day.  It is one more tool that helps me keep my clothes clean while on the go.  Are you a busy mom?  Are you usually on the go?  I recommend the OxiClean Stain Pen for you today!