Information about my law practice concentrating on advocacy for people with disabilities, seniors and their families. Get to know me not only as a lawyer, but my personal interests, passions and family activities.
My name is John W. Quinn and I was born with cerebral palsy. I
couldn’t walk on my own until the age of four, due to being partially
paralyzed on one side of my body and my left foot being two and a half
sizes smaller than my right. I wore eye patches to help correct my
vision and heavy orthopedic shoes to straighten my spine, and endured
grueling physical therapy sessions all throughout grade school to build
up my “pipe cleaner” limbs.
I kept this all a secret in order to join the United States Navy. In
fact, I maintained the secret of my disability during my entire 20-year
military career. No one knew I had cerebral palsy as I served onboard
battleships, destroyers and aircraft carriers. I stood every watch,
participated in every drill and fought every fire. I performed at the
highest levels and retired in 2002 as a Senior Chief Petty Officer – the
second highest enlisted rank you can hold in the Navy. It was an honor
to serve my country.
I couldn’t meet the standard of fitness that the military needed from
their recruits. So what did I do? I went home and started doing that
duck walk exercise down in my basement. I did it every day for a year.
Then, I went back and took the physical again. I was the best duck
walker in the building and passed with flying colors. It took hard
work, sweat, determination and a big lie, but I was finally able to gain
inclusion into the Navy and have the career of my dreams.
When I use the word “inclusion” in relation to the working world,
many people believe that I’m asking for a lowering of a standard to fit a
need. Nothing could be further from the truth. Inclusion to me is the
opportunity to hit the same standard as anyone else. Sadly, many
people, especially those with disabilities, do not even get the chance
to show what they can do.
On the third and final day of the International Meeting for Autism Research
(IMFAR), we had a special opportunity to reflect on the importance of
holding this annual meeting outside North America for the first time in
Our keynote speaker was Maureen Durkin, PhD, MPH, professor of
population health and pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Dr. Durkin challenged us to move “toward a more inclusive world” by
building on what we know about the epidemiology of autism spectrum
The goal of autism epidemiology is to discover what causes autism and
why it’s more common today than ever before. This is crucial for
guiding public health decisions and healthcare strategies.
Dr. Durkin’s message wasn’t your traditional IMFAR keynote speech. It
wasn’t about how the latest findings pave a clear road for future
research. It was about the challenges to autism epidemiology research
and how the road ahead may not be “paved” at all. It may be full of
wrong turns and stumbling blocks. That is, unless we take steps toward
being more “inclusive.”
Actors with developmental disabilities compete with non-disabled
performers to get roles in Hollywood. But disabled actors often are
typecast as handicapped characters. Performers enrolled in a theater
group in Inglewood want to break out of that box.
MISIBS exists to provide adult siblings of
individuals with disabilities with the information, resources and
support to advocate with and/or for their brothers and sisters and to
promote leadership roles of siblings within the disability community.
Advocacy begins by being well informed about a
situation that requires change. It also requires identifying people in
power to effect change. Effective advocates are passionate in their
belief that advocacy can be accomplished indirectly and directly on many
levels with brothers and sisters. Each local sibling group can offer
assistance with advocacy through local Arc chapters and can connect
people to other siblings locally who may be able to offer advice and
assistance when necessary.
Just months after being left for dead, a dog is making a world of difference for a young boy with autism.
Last year, animal rescuers found an abused puppy on the side of a
Georgia road, having nearly starved to death. They nursed her back to
health, naming her Xena the Warrior Puppy. The amazing recovery won Xena
fans worldwide on Facebook and her story helped raise tens of thousands
of dollars for the care of abused animals.
But it may be Xena’s connection with her new owner that’s having the
biggest impact. Now healthy, the dog was adopted by Jonny Hickey, who
has autism, and his family. Once shy and withdrawn, Jonny’s family says
Xena has brought him to life, inspiring him to make a video to promote
April’s status as both Autism Awareness Month and Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals Month.
“My name is Jonny,” the boy says in a video that aired on WXIA-TV,
the Atlanta NBC affiliate, “and this is my puppy, Xena. Well, my Xena
was hurt really bad. By some not-so-nice people. And I have autism. So I
think we make a pretty perfect team to spread the word to be nice to
animals, and nice to kids like me.”
My son is diagnosed, we know what word to call it. That’s a blessing.
But I know that he’ll have struggles like Irving describes. I don’t
ever want my kid to feel that way, but some of it is inevitable. I want
him to know how smart he is. I want him to feel confident and to love
reading as much as I do. But no matter what we do, he’s going to feel
some of this.
Irving’s novel A Prayer for Owen Meany is
my all-time favorite book. I just finished reading it again, actually I
listened to the audio book for the first time. It was interesting
listening to it when I’ve read it so many times. My son will probably
have to listen to many a book in order to read quickly. It was just this
weird confluence of dyslexic themes.
If you’ve never read A Prayer for Owen Meany, stop what you are
doing and go buy the book. If fact I think there’s a pdf of the book
online, just start reading right now and buy it later. Or better yet,
buy the audio book and experience it like a reader with dyslexia might.
Another key step: letting go of the idea that you bear sole
responsibility for lifting your parents’ spirits. They are adults, they
have chosen not to move closer to you, and so they deserve some respect
for their autonomy. It’s not up to you to make their choices more
palatable to them. An attachment to one’s doctors makes perfect sense to
me, by the way.
Think of the near future as a phase where you
allot X time daily, Y monthly to this crisis. Decide X and Y in
cooperation with your husband — and interspersed with alone and couple
time — to keep that crucial relationship fed. Such blunt thinking may
seem odd now, but it will reward you later in preempted future regrets.