When Christinne Rudd was a little girl, doctors told her mother she would never be able to walk because of her cerebral palsy.
Years later, when she was expecting, a nurse told her she wouldn’t ever be able to hold her son in her arms, because one arm didn’t “work.”
That son is 6 now, and Rudd — who walks with a cane after many surgeries — can still pick him up when she wants. She has spent a lifetime correcting wrong assumptions about how cerebral palsy and other disabilities affect people’s lives, to the point that it has become a profession. She blogs, writes articles and has served as an informative and motivational speaker at events such as the Independence Expo for United Spinal Association and Family Cafe. She’s also an adviser to the Orlando chapter of Florida Self-Advocates Network’d and serves as a board member and treasurer for FAAST.
“I try to keep up on the resources available in the disability community and pass them along when I can,” she said.
One of her favorite resources is the ABLE United account. She chose to save her funds there instead of in a special needs trust, after researching both and finding ABLE United to be more flexible and much less expensive.
“I like that I’m able to monitor it and am able to choose what happens to the money,” she said.
Because ABLE United accounts are still fairly new, she has educated various people who fear loss of benefits and aren’t aware of this new avenue of savings. Before this option was available, people with disabilities had no way to “save for a rainy day.”
“People have been conditioned to think that they can’t save anything,” she said. “Luckily, that isn’t the case anymore.”
Rudd has advocated for improving healthcare relationships between doctors and their patients who have disabilities. She has given speeches to disabled parents who are raising children and taught them how to become self-advocates. When she’s offered the chance to tell someone about ABLE United, she seizes that opportunity, too.
“I think that ABLE United brings something to the table, something very valuable, and I don’t think enough people know about it.”