Kids With Disabilities Or Special Needs In Ads Becoming More Prominent, Thanks To The Mom Who Made It Happen

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald March 01, 04:00 am

Five years ago, seeing kids with disabilities or special needs as models in ads was usually met with surprise, shock and disapproval. Thanks to a mom's push, however, that's no longer the case today.

Palos Park's Katie Driscoll, who launched Changing The Face of Beauty in 2012, has made a huge impact on the representation of kids with disabilities or special needs in the media. Not only are these children a common sight in retail posters, flyers, magazines and catalogs as advertisements and features, now their images appear in more prominent spots.

Driscoll has been vocal to companies about putting special needs kids in their marketing materials. She has helped out both talents and agencies in making this happen. The idea came from her own daughter who has Down syndrome.

Her child, like any regular child, is also a consumer after all. "There's more than $200 billion in discretionary spending from individuals with disabilities, so why wouldn't they be represented?" the mother wondered, per People.

One talent agency in Los Angeles has even established a department specifically for casting kids with disabilities and special needs, according to Chicago Tribune. "For 25 years, I've been saying there's a wave coming and we have to be ready to catch it," casting agent Gail Williamson said. "It feels like the wave is starting a little bit."

Driscol has been lauded for her ideas and efforts in fostering inclusivity for special needs kids and breaking down the stereotypes against those with disabilities. The Kennedy family, especially Maria Shriver, is one of her ardent supporters. Her Facebook page has also amassed thousands of followers.

She's one woman who has indeed made a crack at the glass ceiling. For Driscol, however, what gives her the most satisfaction is the reaction she gets from the parents and the children themselves. She believes her organization paved the way for more opportunities for these kids.

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