Picture of three dancers holding hands

Dance of Partnership

Janice Fialka -- Bio
Micah's Writings
Emma's Writings
More References
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DVDs & CDs
Journal Articles

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What Matters: Reflections on Disability, Community and Love
ISBN: 978-1-987935-10-3



What Matters: Reflections on Disability, Community and Love
$25.00 per copy
(plus shipping).

This is the story of Micah, who has an intellectual disability, his community, and his ground-breaking journey to full inclusion in K-12 schools, college, work and life. It is told by Micah, as well as his parents, his sister, friends and colleagues in essays, poems and interviews.

Despite such labels as "low I.Q.", "unemployable" and "not-a-student," the book powerfully chronicles how Micah was fully included since elementary school, and later, how he challenged discrimination in the federal court, and won, how he moved 300 miles from his home to became a teaching assistant at Syracuse University, and most recently, how he survived heart surgery.

It offers practical strategies to ensure authentic lifelong inclusion, create circles of support, help parents shift from protectors to guides. Micah and his community are mentors on how to honor interdependency, redefine disability, cultivate relationships, and live a meaningful life. A book of hope and practical guidance for families, self-advocates, professionals and all the rest of us---because we all need to be included.

Janice Fialka has taken up the adventure of parenting bravely, creatively, and mindfully, and here she shares a lifetime’s harvest of wisdom and practical guidance for families, educators, clinicians, and all the rest of us. I am grateful that this mind-opening, life-altering, soul-stretching book is in the world.

- Krista Tippett
Executive Creator/Host, On Being + The Civil Conversations Project
Author, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living

Take into your heart the message embodied in this book and everything else about inclusive education will naturally fall into place. If you read only one book this year, make it this one. It’s the real deal.

- Cheryl M. Jorgensen, PhD
Inclusive Education Consultant

This book offers delight, clarity and insight not only for those seeking inclusion in society, but for all people working to change things that matter to us. Whatever our cause, the questions persist: How do we persevere for the long term without being overtaken by anger and exhaustion? How do we celebrate and cry together and learn that joy is always available in our deep connectedness, no matter the external circumstances? These questions are answered here, by this persevering, insightful, loving family and their friends.

- Margaret Wheatley
Author of Leadership and the New Science and many other books

This collection of writings by Janice Fialka, her family, and others captures the evolution of their lives over three decades—lives of adventure, love, laughter and risk taking. With powerful honesty and eloquence, her writing shows us what it means to be fully inclusive, and what it means to be fully human. This collection is an essential toolbox for families and educators who are navigating a world of diverse abilities.

- Dan Habib
Filmmaker, Including Samuel
and an upcoming film featuring Micah Fialka-Feldman

Additional Reviews

View Table of Contents

View Excerpts

Order the eBook

Parents and Professionals Partnering for Children With Disabilities: A Dance That Matters
By Janice M. Fialka, Arlene K. Feldman and Karen C. Mikus
Foreword by Ann P. Turnbull



Parents and Professionals Partnering for Children With Disabilities
$27.95 per copy
(plus shipping).

Written from both the parents and the professional's points-of-view, this book is rich with stories, examples, and practical suggestions. Using dance as a metaphor, the authors provide a developmental approach to understanding and forging positive adult relationships while showing concrete ways to advocate for and with children.

Read what people are saying about the book.

Whose Life is it Anyway? How One Teenager, Her Parents, and Her Teacher View the
Transition Process for a Young Person with Disabilities
co-authored by Janice Fialka,
Martha Mock, and Jenny Wagner Neugart

Whose Life Is It Anyway?
$10 per copy (plus shipping).

This publication is a unique exploration of the emotions and relationships between three key transition partners: Becky, the youth; her mother, and her teacher. It includes talking points for group discussion about relationship building and best practice in adolescent transition.

Outcomes include helping all partners raise expectations about what youth with special health care needs can achieve, how to meaningfully involve youth in the process and ultimately, how to better understand each participant's perspectives.

Co-authored by national trainer Janice Fialka; Martha Mock, University of Rochester; and Jennifer Wagner Neugart of the Waisman Center.

This book can also be electronically downloaded by going to: http://www.waisman.wisc.edu/hrtw/Publications.html .

The perspectives of the student, parent, and a teacher are a wonderful idea. Your book gives lots of insight into the transition process. I really like the length of the book and the discussion questions. I will use this book in my transition courses. What a creative work!?

- Debra A. Neubert, PhD., Professor,
Department of Special Education, University of Maryland

In your creative and insightful way, you have put together very powerful scenarios related to transition planning. I really like the way you blend the "procedural facts" with the emotions of each of the key stakeholders. You capture reality so well.?  

- Ann Turnbull, Co-Director,
Beach Center on Disability,
University of Kansas

DVD: Through the Same Door: Inclusion Includes College
(ISBN: 0-9791903-0-4)

Available now on DVD.
Select the correct button below.

Order here for individuals:
$30 per copy, plus shipping.

Order here for institutions:
$65 per copy, plus shipping.

To print a paper order form for this item (and others below), click here.  

This DVD won the
2006 TASH Image Award for the Positive Portrayal of People with Disabilities.

This inspiring film documents the new movement of fully inclusive education by exploring one young man's desire for a life without boundaries.

As a high school student, Micah wanted the college experience, and he got it. See how it's done, learn how it works, and witness how Micah's journey challenges us all to reexamine what we believe possible.

Note: DVD is captioned for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

More info: DVD Cover & Back

Watch a 2-minute clip from the DVD. Click here.

Compact Disk (CD)

From Puddles to PRIDE : A mother's poems about her son, his disability, and her
family's transformation

Order CD here:
$10 per copy (plus shipping). Be sure to note which version of the CD you want (the price is the same for either one).

CD with Power Point (requires a PC with Power Point)

Audio CD only (no visuals)

Janice has recorded three of her poems on this CD with stunning original piano music written by Stefan Kukurugya, and powerful visuals, photos, and graphics.

This is a marvelous new addition to Janice's collection. The CD can be played at parent gatherings, professional trainings and workshops, to begin a meeting, or in the quiet of one's own home. The CD contains the three poems.

Camille Catlett (Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute) describes the poems:

The first poem, ?Advice to Professionals Who Must Conference Cases,? delivers powerful statements on the importance of compassion in sharing news to families. It is a beautiful, moving plea to professionals to be compassionate with parents who come to tortuous meetings to hear updates about their children.

The second poem, ?On Having to Give Bad News: A Tribute to Professionals,? honors the caring individuals who work with children with special needs and who have the capacity to pull parents from the blazing heat that threatens to melt their hopes and dreams. The third poem, ?From puddles to PRIDE,? is a proclamation, shouted out on the streets of Chicago, at the first ever Disability Pride Parade on July 18, 2004. On that street, the author says, ?there are no puddles of shame?only sunshine?and pride!? Experience this joyful event that will change the perspectives of those who participate and those who watch from the sidelines.

"This amazing CD features children and adults of all ages, abilities, and cultural backgrounds. The stories of these spirited individuals will invite professionals to see and support children and families in new ways. As you watch/listen to these three poems, prepare to have your heart and mind opened to tender, passionate, and wise messages from the soul of a parent.

"The CD is a powerful resource for preservice teachers and practitioners. It can support us in choreographing different ways of collaborating so families are empowered and professionals too."

And Mary Beth Doyle, PhD, St. Michael's College, VT, writes:

"This CD is simply beautiful. I have always enjoyed your writing, but with the slide show too, it is over the top!?

Articles and Essays

The Dance of Partnership: Why Do My Feet Hurt?  Published in Young Exceptional Children (Winter, 2001) Volume 4, Number 2. This was Janice's keynote address given at the Division of Early Childhood's (DEC) Thirteenth Conference on Children with Special Needs, New Orleans, Nov. 20, 1997. 

Working with Families: Rethinking Denial. Reprinted with permission from Young Exceptional Children, Vol. 5, Number 2.

Nudging the Network (PDF) Janice and her family learn that it takes regular, open and intentional conversations to support Micah's peers and community to include him in 5th grade basketball games, at the prom, in school, and in the community. (2008)

Detours, Not Dead Ends: Micah's dream to live in a dorm (PDF) Janice tells the story of how Micah's university friends supported him when he was denied his right to live in the dorm. Included are lessons learned about ways to support Micah as he moved into adulthood.(2008)

What's a Parent to Do? Micah's College Dream (PDF) Janice shares how she and her husband learned to listen and support Micah's dream to go to college. She describes how parents have to move from being 'protectors' to 'guides' of their children. Included in her essay are several practical principles that guide her family as they shift in their parenting role. This article is followed by The Power of Inclusion: Personal Reflections on Creating Change written by Shea Howell, PhD, a university professor who was one of Micah's professors. (2011)

Hidden Treasures Behind Closed Doors (PDF) Janice and her husband, Rich tell the story of Micah's long legal battle to live in the dorm. She describes how this fight transformed his community and strengthened his self confidence, capacity to advocate, and connection to his expanding circle. This article is followed by Micah's The Power of Inclusion: Personal Reflections on Creating Change. The third article in this series is written by Micah's sister, Emma Fialka Feldman, My Brother's Journey: A Sibling's Perspective about College and What Comes Next. (2013)

Essay by Janice (2013): How Roger Ebert's clarity and courage helped me redefine my son's disability.

Interview with Janice (2013): Janice talks about Micah's birth and childhood and how she and her family came to expect that Micah be welcomed as a valued member of the community and school, not in spite of his "disability" but because, like everyone, his experience is unique and essential to the whole.

Pieces of the Bye: The Importance of Preparing to Say Good Bye to Children and their Families. This link opens the Jan-March issue. Janice's article begins on page 9 and carries over to page 10. Published in Michigan Association Infant Health's The Infant Crier (Jan-March 2006, No. 111). (PDF)

Least Dangerous Assumption: Changing the Way We Think. Published in Everyone Together, Volume 1, Issue 2, Summer 2005.

Keeping the Dance of Reciprocity Alive (Leading Change, CENMI)

Opening New Doors: What's New in Transition (Michigan Transition Resources, CENMI)

The Power of Peer Support: Making Inclusion Work in High School 

Brief Amazing Moments of Inclusion: Self Determined Athlete (Newsline, CENMI) (PDF)

A Word to Educational Professionals About Parents, Transitions, Feelings, and Dreams Janice's article begins on page 1 and carries over to the bottom of page 2. (Newsline, CENMI) (PDF)

"Be Careful What You Wish For ...": Five Reasons to be Concerned About the Assignment of Individual Paraprofessionals" Published in the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)'s Online Journal, Vol. 37 No. 5, May/June 2005. (PDF)

Advice to Professionals Who Must "Conference Cases"
From Puddles to Pride
For more poems by Janice see It Matters: Lessons from my son

For a printable version of this page

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