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Introducing: The 504

Parents of special needs kids are, fundamentally, parents first. Sure, their kids are different, but they're still kids. And just as the internet has revolutionized social aspects of parenting (connecting people through shared experiences, even while occasionally spreading viral misinformation), it also has opened a new world to parents of children with disabilities and developmental disorders. 

The best of the web offers grassroots support, insight and, sometimes, professional-grade comedy for parents and kids alike. It is with this in mind that proudly introduces its new special needs blog, The 504. Our mission: to explore issues and themes, news and views unique to parents raising exceptional children. 

As part of the new blog, we'll report on news relating to all special needs. We'll present viewpoints of guest bloggers – on staff and off – and exclusive interviews with experts. 

We are pleased to host weekly contributions from Jacqueline Laurita, who chronicles life with her 3-year-old, Nicholas. Laurita may be familiar to you for her starring turn on Real Housewives of New Jersey, but it's as a mother of an autistic son that she found her calling. 

"I often wonder what led me to this life as a reality TV personality in a seemingly meaningless, drama-filled series. I didn't know it would be a platform to help others," she writes in My New Normal, her new column for Parenting, which debuts this month. "Whether you have a child with autism, some other disability, or none at all, we all need your support."

That's what this blog is all about: support. It's about sharing our stories and, where we can, offering advice. It's about celebrating our kids and appreciating them as the exceptional people they are. They're funny; they're weird; they're adorable. They can be a pain in the ass, but they're our pain in the ass. And we love them ferociously.

A word about the title. "The 504" refers specifically to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans With Disabilities Act. The act is designed to protect students – children – from discrimination based upon their disability status, whatever that disability may be. 

While this blog will occasionally touch on federal financial assistance, it will attempt to cover all of the issues facing parents with special needs kids. And it will attempt to do so in the spirit of inclusiveness, hope and joy. 

We're learning as we go here, right along with you. Your input is encouraged, so send along your thoughts, ideas, admonitions and hosannahs. But mostly, we hope you find something here that speaks to you. Welcome to the conversation. Welcome to the 504.