Scottsdale resident Rachel Kaplan tells a story of inspiration as she penned books on being kind and living with a disability.
The author had two book signings at Barnes and Noble, 10500 N. 90th St. She recently published “Snowball’s Winter Wonderland Adventure,” which gives a narrative of friendship, teamwork and climate change.
Her other books are: “Growing Up with a Disability” for children to learn the importance of kindness and acceptance; and “The Adventures of Smokey,” which is about her dog she got from Arizona Foothills Rescue.
She donates all the proceeds from the book about Smokey to benefit the rescue organization.
“My dog, Smokey, is my best friend. We both rescued each other. He is there for me when I have anxiety and calms me down. I read him bedtime stories every night. He waits to have them read and falls asleep,” said Ms. Kaplan.
“‘The Adventures of Smokey’ is about adopting a dog. He is more than a dog. He is my best friend. He helps me through my anxiety in hard times. He is the best distraction.”
In addition to her dog, Ms. Kaplan quells her bouts of anxiety through music, playing her guitar, scrapbooking and blogging.
Writing books can be considered an accomplishment for anyone embarking on that endeavor; but for Ms. Kaplan, the achievement was a milestone as she recalls her personal experience of not learning to read until high school.
The Pinnacle High School graduate said learning to read lessened her frustrations and helped her imagination grow.
“I started out learning from watching Disney movies and musicals and from Disney books that were read to me. I was good at remembering what I saw and heard,” Ms. Kaplan, 25, said.
“There was a special reading program that Ms. Evans, my teacher at Pinnacle High School, was trained in. She worked very hard with me and taught me how to read. She taught me how to sound out words and made it fun.”
From conquering struggles in school to embracing reading and writing, Ms. Kaplan is an example of what she tries to demonstrate to today’s youth, which is to be themselves and not let anyone stop them.
Her motto is: Anything is possible, even the impossible.
Apart from writing, she enjoys working part time at Family Eyecare of Glendale.
“‘Growing Up with a Disability’ tells my story through my eyes. It lets people know what I experienced daily. It talks about accepting people who are different and not to judge them before you know them,” Ms. Kaplan said.
At times, Ms. Kaplan was embarrassed and bullied, said her mother Sue Kaplan, sharing how her daughter struggled with a severe learning disability and daily anxiety.
“As a parent who has a special needs child, there is a struggle to recognize their potential, and have them reach their potential, and feel accepted and unconditionally loved. Rachel’s disabilities are still a source of struggles,” said Sue Kaplan.
Aside from special needs children’s struggles, she mentioned obstacles many adults face when living with disabilities such as the inability to drive and few employment opportunities.
“We are fortunate that she is able to assist in her dad’s office on a limited basis. As special needs services end when an individual becomes 21, they become isolated and feel alone,” Sue Kaplan said.
“There are a lack of opportunities for social interaction and employment. We are faced with a large body of youth and young adults who need opportunities to feel productive, work, and have self-worth.”
She said it is important to share her daughter’s struggles with a learning disability, tremors with her hands and bouts of anxiety since many children face similar struggles.
“My inspiration and motivation is seeing my children happy. Everyone has challenges to face. It is just that individuals with special needs have tremendous challenges to face.”
She encourages youths to be kind while understanding that many people are different and have struggles.
“Work toward achieving your dream. Accept people for their differences because it is what makes us unique. Be empathetic. Be a friend,” Sue Kaplan said.
Independent Newsmedia News Services Specialist Delarita Ford can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.