“As I learned and grew as a mother and an advocate, I realized there was nothing about my child that needed to change, but the world around her needed to grow,” says author Leah Witman Moore.
Moore’s debut memoir, Loving You Big is the story of an ordinary family facing extraordinary circumstances. She penned it to help others realize that disabilities do not have to be sad stories.
“It is my hope that people who love someone with a disability will see themselves reflected in my story,” she says. “I also hope people who don’t personally know someone with a disability will learn what it looks like — and we can build empathy within communities.”
Everything Jordan does is born of the support she’s been given to be as successful as she can be, according to the author, who says the 10-year-old approaches life with such joy.
“She even wakes up saying, ‘Hello Monday, I’m ready.’ “It is wonderful to be around someone who brings out the best in themselves and others,” says the author.
An incredible big sister to her twin brothers Austin and Oliver, Jordan is obsessed with wigs, Disney’s Descendants, and believes there is a YouTube channel inside their oven.
“She can’t wait to meet anyone to ask what they are going to be for Halloween,” Moore says. “And she isn’t afraid to tell you whether or not she agrees with your choice.”
At the onset of their journey, Moore felt there was much to mourn — and Cri du chat meant there would be plenty the family couldn’t access.
The Five P Minus Society was her first call.
“I needed to know I wasn’t alone,” says the author. “Having other communities remind me is important to counteract the isolation I felt as a new mother, parent of a child with a rare disorder, and a woman floundering to balance it all. It is not only transformative, but integral.”
And Moore and her husband have an incredible support system.
Surrounded by family and friends who know how to love them through moments when there aren’t words, when their spirits need lifting with humor, and nothing but a reminder they aren’t doing this by themselves.
“I know I can never completely fall apart because there is a tangled web of people catching me, even when I avoid asking for help,” she says it is the most important part.
Moore says she was challenged by her own expectations of what she thought life would look like as a parent and what it actually resembles — raising three children, one with a rare disability and epilepsy, one with attentional and sensory issues, and one with an auto-immune disease.
“Yet, (I’m) filled with the same piles of goldfish crumbs, homework time, and bedtime stories I imagined,” the author says, adding she’s baffled by how many people are still insensitive about individuals with disabilities, ranging from impolite to directly rude.
That’s why championing Jordan is everything.
“So much about being an advocate I couldn’t have prepared for, noticing where we could move beyond kindness and foster inclusion, I had to learn to raise my voice,” says Moore. “This is not done with anger or impatience, but by listening.”
“There is an implicit bias that individuals with disabilities are something to be mourned, a burden to society or unable to participate,” the author says by amplifying stories, we can eradicate these biases.
Equal access for all children to get the attention they need is her greatest wish.
This is why a portion of the proceeds from Moore’s book supports Inclusion Matters by Shane’s Inspiration, an organization dedicated to building adaptive playgrounds.
The author is a proud Roxbury High School graduate. She teaches English and theater in Westchester, New York and says she’s grateful to teachers who inspired her to write and find her voice.
Moore is next working on a middle-grade novel about a main character with a disability.
“It is important to me that there are more accurate stories available,” she says to change the disability narrative.
Follow Moore’s Journey at www.lovingyoubig.com. Loving You Big is available anywhere books are sold.