Conversation with Janice Fialka at Book Beat, Sun., March 26th

Author, Lecturer, and Advocate Janice Fialka will be at Book Beat on Sunday, March 26th from 2:00-4:00 PM to have a conversation regarding her book What Matters: Reflections on Disability, Community and Love. Books will be available for signing and purchase at the event. If you have any questions or would like to reserve her book, please call Book Beat (248) 968-1190. This event is free and open to the public. Book Beat is located at 26010 Greenfield Rd, Oak Park, MI 48237.

Listen to an Interview with Janice on NPR-Michigan Radio (91.7)


What Matters is the story of Micah, who has an intellectual disability, his community, and his ground-breaking journey to full inclusion in Michigan’s K-12 schools, college, work and life. It is beautifully told by his mother, Janice, as well as by Micah, his sister, a second grade inclusion teacher, 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, conduct meaningful IEP meetings, and help parents shift from protector to guide. 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, 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

Janice Fialka chronicles her family’s odyssey through challenges and obstacles, false turns and foul winds as they make their way, step by step, with heart and courage and gathering wisdom. What Matters is also a reflection on our wild and dazzling diversity, and the universal and irrepressible agency that lives inside every soul, ready to spark up and surprise us if we’re prepared to pay attention, and then fan those first flashes into life-giving fires. This is a book for parents and teachers, lawmakers and policy people, and anyone interested in creating a future fit for all — a place of joy and justice, powered by love.  -William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education (retired), University of Illinois, Best Selling Author, Teaching with Conscience in an Imperfect World

Janice Fialka, LMSW, ACSW is a nationally-recognized lecturer, author, and advocate on issues related to disability, parent-professional partnerships, inclusion, raising a child with disabilities, sibling issues, and post-secondary education. She is the Special Projects Trainer with Michigan’s Early On® Training and Technical Assistance (Part C of IDEA). Janice is also a parent, poet, a compelling storyteller, and an award-winning advocate for families and persons with disabilities.

In 2009, Janice and her family were honored with the “Life Time Achievement Award” by Family Voices for their advocacy in disability. She was named Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) – Michigan Chapter in 2007.


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