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For Families With Disability, Help Network Means Better Life

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This year, North Country Public Radio is talking with people and families who experience a wide range of disabilities. As part of our Disability Matters series, Kathy and Michaela Hannon have been keeping an audio diary about their lives in Saranac Lake. Kathy works as a special education teacher in Lake Placid. Michaela is twelve years old. She lives with spastic cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. This morning, Kathy talks about the daily support that can allow a family with disabilities to maintain a rich quality of life. Often, workers help with the most mundane chores.

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KATHY HANNON: "It's Monday morning. Michaela just woke up. It's 7:05 and she's getting dressed. I should say I'm getting her dressed. Sheri should be here any minute. Sheri comes every morning, Thank God. We're very grateful for Sheri. She's a wonderful caretaker for Michaela. Right Michaela, Sheri's coming. She comes and she gets her ready for school. She feeds her, brushes her teeth and then together they wait for the bus. I don't know what we would do without Sheri."

MICHAELA HANNON: (muffled) "Want Go."

KATHY HANNON: "You want to go. I know."

SHERI: "Good Morning."


SHERI: "What a morning."


SHERI: "Michaela are you laughing at me?"


KATHY HANNON: "It's Monday."

SHERI: "Alright, let's get our hair done while our water is boiling or getting ready to boil. Okay. This is your favorite thing isn't it to get your hair done. Not."

(Michaela can be heard in the background making noises while Kathy Hannon speaks.)

KATHY HANNON: "When Michaela gets to school she'll have teaching assistant and other people during the day will come in and out and help with Michaela. Michaela has a lot of helpers. We're lucky with Michaela she has a Medicaid waiver and that helps pay for the care that we need for her at home. Otherwise, it'd be like paying for daycare for the rest of our lives. And it gets pretty expensive. She's not like a kid you can just send to a daycare and doesn't need some individual care. We tried to get her in daycare before and couldn't get her in daycare because she had too many needs and they couldn't handle her needs. Which is understandable, but frustrating. So it basically leaves you with trying to figure out who can help you get those things you need for your kid."

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