Thursday, August 28, 2014

It's always a Great day on Sarah's Great Day!

Cooking and eating food is central to every gathering of friends and family.  Memories are made, laughter is heard and good times are always had by everyone!  That is how the hosts of the online cooking show Sarah's Great Day want you to feel, like part of their family and part of their Great Day!  What is remarkable about this online show is that nothing is scripted, everything is captured in real time.  Casual conversation, tips and tricks, delicious food that warms you from the inside out and hosts that invite you to sit, stay and be in their company!  Val is Sarah's mom and talk about someone who is a champion for those with special needs! This show is very much proof of that.  Sarah, who just happens to have Down Syndrome, was just tired and needed a break from school for a time, so they decided to homeschool Sarah...there was just one problem....Val was not a teacher.  How could she teach Sarah the things she needed to know?  She knew she loved cooking and there are so many skills that cooking teaches you.  It can help you sharpen your math skills, fine motor skills, reading skills and personal interaction with others.  For Val, developing this cooking show has really allowed Sarah to come out of her shell and is one of the best things for a mother to see.... her once shy, quiet girl, developing confidence and beaming with pride and blossoming!!   When I met both of these girls I fell in love with them!!  I saw that they have a relationship like my mom and I do!! Support and love are the foundation of success that allows Sarah to enjoy life and to see her disability as a motivation to inspire others around her to see their disability in a positive way, too!   Another cool aspect to this show is how food and friends are brought together.  In many of the episodes, Sarah's friends and people who have had a major impact in Sarah's life, are with her in the kitchen!  Sharing food among friends is one of the most personal ways to give of yourself... Food is your heart on a plate.  Sarah's Great Day proves that disability doesn't ever define your ability to achieve your dreams.

This is a must see online cooking show! Check it out here: /

I got to interview these two lovely ladies, and that was a fun day!  Listen into our interview here:

                                                         I love your drive and determination to promote Disability Awareness!!  Thank you for being a cheerleader for all those with disabilities! You are Awesome!!  I'm quite a fan of yours', and also want to thank you for your very kind words about "A View from my Window"!  I really love hearing how listeners' feel about the show!  It made my heart feel so good!  Sarah's Great Day is such a great resource for everyone!  You have shown families that love, support and delicious food is a perfect recipe to reach the dreams they maybe never thought were possible! xoxoxo!

You really are a ROCKSTAR!!!! :) :) :)  Hugs girlie!! xoxoxoxo!!

Michelle Fischer is the host of  A View from my Window a podcast produced, by The Arc of Indiana

Monday, June 16, 2014

An Autism Awareness story that is close to my heart....

Autism Awareness Superheros!
Paul Howell and I first met when I wrote him an email telling him that I really liked how he delivered the news on our local television station. I could tell that he owned the anchor chair and was concerned about giving viewers what they needed.  I wrote the email, read through it about 100 times, had second thoughts about 100 times.... and then finally decided to send it!  I wanted to reach my dream of being a journalist, and who better to help than TV news anchor extrordinaire, Paul Howell!!!  I was confident that he could point me in a direction that would start the ball rolling.  I sent the email, relieved I had written and told him about my dream.  I expected that I would get a very generic "Thank You for watching, and best wishes in achieving your career path" reply.  I was totally wrong!  The reply I got was a list of steps that I could possibly take to start on the path of getting my foot in the door of the journalism field.  He suggested that I look into taking a journalism writing course and other college courses that may include an internship.  In addition to a list of steps to take, he also said that if he could help me in anyway, he would be happy to!  I was delighted!  We met a few weeks later at our local Barnes and Noble bookstore.  I couldn't believe that my favorite local anchor was sitting down with me and I was actually able to talk to him about my dream!  So, after calming down and realizing this was really happening, we settled into a conversation ranging from topics of how he got started in the news to his travels abroad.  I felt that he understood where I wanted to go, that my dreams were real, and that he really wanted to help me get there.  After that, it was full steam ahead on the dream train!  Having a disability meant nothing to Paul, but, helping me reach my dream did.  Even to this day, there aren't words to describe how much he motivated me to have the confidence to achieve my passion!  Years passed and Paul went on to marry his wife, Adriana, and they started their family with their bouncing baby boy.  Every parent's happiness is a healthy baby, but then Paul and Adriana started noticing that things weren't quite the same with their son.  The diagnosis of autism followed.  I was able to connect with Paul and interview him about his family's story.  It was incredibly moving for me.  Not only was I sitting across from the person who so patiently gave his time and energy to teach me, but I got the opportunity to show him that his efforts were never lost on me!  I felt honored that he was telling me of their amazing story of courage and resilience!  I was so proud that I could give back to Paul in this personal way.  I was proud that he and Adriana, even in the darkest days after diagnosis, didn't let the darkness last too long.  They wanted their son to live life to the best of his ability and be happy while doing it!  Their family is well on their way to that goal!  First grade in a mainstream classroom was accomplished with lots of hard work and determination!  Paul is still the same guy I met nine years ago.  Disability meant nothing to him then, and it means nothing now.  Helping the son he so deeply cares for and to reach the dreams he dreams of... that is what means the most to Paul and his family!  Autism doesn't define this family at all.. the ability and confidence to achieve dreams does!
                The first day of first grade! Lookin' super! :)            

This family and their heart warming experience is very close to my heart!

Swimming like fish! :)

Michelle Fischer is the host of A View from My Window, a podcast produced by The Arc of Indiana

For more information on Little Star Center click here:
there are also Little Star Center locations in Lafayette and Bloomington.

Hear my interview with Paul here:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Arc of Indiana's Teaching Hotel and Training Institute: More than just an ordinary building...

I LOVE working for the Arc of Indiana!  2014 began with a major announcement surrounding the creation and building of a hotel that's geared toward giving people with disabilities the option of going to post secondary education after getting out of high school.  Valuable skills will be taught right in the hotel which will open the opportunity to use those skills to gain employment in the hospitality field or in another field of their choice!  My heart is jumping for joy just thinking about how wonderful this project is, and how it will impact lives in untold ways!  This project is changing the face of what employment means for people with disabilities.  Can you imagine the excitement that will go on inside this building once it's built and up and running?  Smiles will be abundant, laughter will fill the halls!  Warm hellos and handshakes will greet you as you walk in.  Personal touches will be seen in every room by all the artwork, made possible through the artistic eye of artists with disabilities.  If you come stay at the hotel from out of town and want something to remind you of your stay in Indiana, I have no doubt that those in the gift shop will jump at the chance to help you find the perfect "Indiana" treasure!  This hotel and training institute is more than just an ordinary building. This building, will change lives.  It will help people with disabilities see what they bring to the table in who they are.  They will be a team player in getting things done for guests and maintaining the hotel, and they will  have chosen to be in the hospitality field.  Think about the word choice...  there are many factors that lead to making different choices for different people, but for people with disabilities, choices are freedom.  Freedom from stereo-types, freedom from can't and won't.  Freedom from feeling useless and not worth anything.  Choices make us feel like everyone else!!  Choices help us to see that we are part of the weave of brings life to our soul and pep in our step!  The Arc Teaching Hotel/ Training Institute will break the stereotype of what is possible in the lives of people with disabilities.  Can you lend a hand to help continue to change stereotypes? To upbuild and encourage, to change the self-image of people with disabilities and give us hope!!  We need your help!!!  Money is made and exchanged for things that we feel are important.  I can't emphasize how important this is......Dreams are one of the things that give life to the soul and the motivation to not give up!!   There are so many things that people with disabilities are up against, that hurt us and break us down, and squash every ounce of hope and confidence out of us everyday.....Don't let the ability to make our own choices be one of them!!  Employment is life, and with your help in donating to this project life will be just that much sweeter!!!  From the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you for helping us live the life we have always wanted!!
Jeff Huffman-

Thank you for always wearing your heart on your sleeve and understanding how important changing the landscape is for those of us with disabilities! You are an awesome cheerleader!  I'm glad to know you and your family, to work with you and to call you my friend!  The disability community is so fortunate to have you in their corner! :)

Jeff talks about the hotel and the reason it came about here:

Arc Staff: You all continue to amaze me with how you hold true to your mission to help those with disabilities!  Thank you for allowing me to experience the ride and to experience your incredibly generous hands and hearts in helping me achieve my most cherished dream and allowing me to help others in the most wonderful way possible!
Here's to helping many other dreams be ACHIEVED!!  XOXO!

Michelle is the host of A View From My Window, a podcast produced by The Arc of Indiana

I thought this was an interesting article I read the other day and thought it went along with this post!

For more information and to make a donation to the Teaching Hotel/Training Institute click this link:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Behind the Mic Book Review: Jewel Kats


When I started reading the books you see pictured here by Jewel Kats, all I could keep thinking was, these books are so valuable in teaching young women and girls to be ok in their skin and to make their disability fabulous!!  Jewel and I have yet to meet in person, but as we started talking, it quickly became apparent that she walks to the beat of her own drum.  She warmly weaves into her writing the idea that it's ok to be who you are and to be proud of how far you've come despite circumstances that may have beat you down.  Jewel has had her share of challenges.  At the tender age of nine years old, she was in a very serious car accident and spent months in the hospital.  She endured eight surgeries after this terrible ordeal.  Since then, arthritis and osteopenia have made it extremely painful to move and function in everyday life.  All of these things could bring her down, but part of Jewel's success is her positive outlook and her desire to help others.  One of the ways she does this is by writing about her experiences and then getting out and meeting her readers through speaking engagements and book signings.  We had the pleasure of meeting virtually through Facebook and I could sense that she really connects with her readers and when they are in her presence, she enjoys taking the time to chat and getting to know them!

What I found exciting about these books was, in every single one of them you are taken on an adventure or taught a very important lesson.  I LOVED Cinderella's Magical Wheelchair because as you are taken into Cinderella's world, you feel every emotion that she goes through.  As she sees her dream of going to the King's Costume Party dwindle, Monique from Enchantment University comes and restores Cinderella's faith in how beautiful she is...and she also helps her to see that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  The prince thought that Cinderella was beautiful because she was confident in herself and in her wheelchair....That wheelchair was a help to her, it wasn't all of her.  Assistive equipment is a part of life for those with special needs. You know what Jewel does??  She puts her own twist on her equipment.  Whatever it is, the equipment becomes a glam accessory - something to make her happy when she uses it!  Cinderella's Magical Wheelchair  teaches everyone to embrace their glamour!!

The Princess and the Ruby - An Autism Fairytale.

This book teaches the value of putting yourself in another person's shoes.  We are all unique, and people with autism are unique, as well.  They just have to learn, work and live in a way that works for them.  We all do that.  It's important to embrace our differences and appreciate them.  Ask anyone who has autism what their goals and dreams are... You'll be delighted to find that you may have more in common than you thought!

DitzAbled Princess - A comical Diary, inspired by real life

You get to be a fly on the wall with this book!  I love it when a book allows you to do that!!  Jewel invites you into her life as a woman who juggles all her different roles in life - rockin' a funky 80's look, being a wife, sister, daughter and mom to her dog Snowie, an award winning author, motivational speaker..(this girl is super woman) ...all the while showing the challenges she faces who's the boss!  The most important thing to learn from this book is finding a way to smile and laugh at yourself... Life is too short to focus on what you don't have.  Instead, focus on the positive and always look to help others.  Don't be afraid to allow those who support you to lovingly push you to your greatest and sometimes undiscovered potential!

Jewel - Thank You for showing girls and women of all abilities that there is beauty and glamour in all of us and that embracing it is what makes our disabilities FABULOUS!! <3 <3

Michelle Fischer is the host of A View from My Window, a podcast produced by The Arc of Indiana

Friday, January 31, 2014

A fellow Journalist's humble request.


Dear Anderson,

Today,  I am writing to fulfill a dream.  I've been keeping this dream private for several years now, and I finally have the confidence and professional skills to give it light.  I am writing to request an interview with you!!  I've watched your show since 2004, and it would be an incredible experience to be in the studio...interviewing you!  On the flip side, you may be able to gain some unique insight into a part of society that you may not often encounter - the disability community.

My name is Michelle Fischer.  I live in Lafayette, Indiana and my childhood dream is to be a journalist like you.  I was born with cerebral palsy and had a very normal childhood.  My parents never treated me differently - neither did friends or schoolmates.  My life was cruising along and I had the same plans as most people my age.  I thought I'd get married, have kids, and maybe live in a foreign city in Europe somewhere.

My dreams of a normal life ended one day so quickly.  Out of the blue, I woke up HATING my disability.  I was angry and lost.  I felt as if I was given the wrong person's body somehow!  I beat myself up over not being normal and I was angry at how long it took me to do simple tasks such as getting myself ready in the morning or cooking a meal for myself.  My struggles all came into perspective when I read your book, "Dispatches from the Edge."  I related to everything you felt while going through the devastating loss of your father and brother,  as I was dealing with a profound loss I felt inside of myself.  Since third grade,  I had a dream of pursuing a broadcast journalism career, and through watching and modeling myself after you, I am beginning to realize my goals.  Journalism allows me to cope with my pain and push my worries and anxieties into the background.  Instead, I focus on the art of storytelling and shining a big light on my subject.

At the State House in Indianapolis IN with Arc of Indiana  Executive Director ,  John Dickerson at a Developmental Disabilities Commission meeting
At the 2012 Special Olympics Indiana State Games in Terre Haute  IN.
Interviewing a star athlete,  Andrew Peterson and his Dad Craig
He doesn't let his disability of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome stop him
from being a top notch runner and public speaker!!
I have started what I consider phase one of fulfilling my dream of becoming a journalist.  In November 2009, I became the podcast show host for the Arc of Indiana, a non-profit organization that helps people with disabilities be all they can be, through many supports.  Since this time,  I have conducted 55 interviews with a variety of people, including parents and volunteers,  Executive Directors, CEO's, authors and bloggers.  Spanning topics from Autism and  Self-Advocacy to Employment and Epilepsy. There are no words to describe how much I love my job and I honestly think of you every time I do a show.  I believe I am a voice for people with disabilities and I am the one, through my interviews, that let's them see that although they may feel forgotten, they are not.

On Location at the Special Olympics with Laura, whose son Tom is in
Special Olympics. That's my producer Sally filling in for my sound engineer Bryce!
I have a great team behind me!

Please don't hesitate contacting me.  I know that this request is one you probably haven't seen before. It's taken me a while to build the confidence to reach out to you.  While you're considering this, I have a question for you to think about:  Have you ever met a journalist who has cerebral palsy?  My response to you, if your answer is what I think it will be, is simple: Don't you think its time?

Your fellow Journalist,

Michelle Fischer

I'm ready to work with you! <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Check out my podcast episodes, I think you will like what you hear!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Love and Marriage: A dream that can become a reality for everyone!

I often dream of my wedding day.  I want a vintage wedding... Ah, yes!  I love all things vintage!  A vintage dress with a touch of whimsy and a touch of elegance.  Roses and daisies will adorn my bouquet.. in bright reds, pastel pinks and burnt oranges.  Four of my closest friends who have laughed, cried, and supported me through the ups and downs of life, the bonds of friendship deepening each year, standing beside me on this most sacred day.  The bond between mom and daughter is unflinching as you see the bond strengthen, yet now your relationship becomes deeper.  Her advice becomes even more the essence of you.  The advice that you scoffed at as a kid, viewing it as “uncool” or “cramping your style”, becomes so precious that you wondered why you turned a deaf ear to it to begin with.  Realizing that as the years of your marriage progress, you will most likely do things like your mom, your grandma, your aunts and your friends- giving the indication that you may not have turned a deaf ear to everything they lovingly taught you, after all.  I continue to be so grateful for the women in my life.  They are examples of strength, compassion and love.  I learn so much about what marriage means from examples of women in my life.  Whether its a look, a touch, or a kiss... They show respect for their husbands for taking the lead in their family incredible gift that we have been given in marriage!  I’ve seen evidence so many times that this gift is not taken for granted, but highly valued.  Think about it:  Because you have listened and learned, observed and perhaps questioned... these are the things that shape you as a person to be ready to be a wife and a partner.  Then a potential husband catches your eye and has qualities that match your personality well, but also most important, he fits in with your goals, values and dreams.  Your dedication to each other becomes more solid through times spent together with conversations, laughter, tears, time with friends and families.  All of these building blocks become the stepping stones to a strong foundation of a firm, rich mutual love and respect....that can last the test of time. The handling of this gift takes much effort, but when that effort is are rewarded endlessly!

People with disabilities feel the same about marriage.  They want to be able to tell people how the girl met the boy, how they cooked together for the first time, had their first kiss...the first moment they realized they are crazy about each other and you can’t imagine life without them there. The butterflies in your stomach when you know you have found the perfect dress. I’ve been told by many of my friends that we are all “disabled” in some way, its just that some disabilities are more visible then others.  That’s what makes the accomplishment of a goal like finding that special someone so sweet!  Marriage is not a fairytale, its a building project...building a team, a foundation of trust and support.....a unified and fortified wall against anything that is a threat to undermining this gift.  A challenging, yet rewarding journey.  Everyone, disabled or not, should have a chance to have this gift.  The gift of love and marriage doesn’t just have to be a can be your reality!

*Picture Courtesy of Angela and Matt Sharp :)
**Article Originally appeared in Unique Me Magazine

Michelle Fischer is host of  A View from My Window, a podcast  produced by The Arc of Indiana