A Life Like Anybody Else: How a Man with an Intellectual Disability Fulfilled His American Dream, Michael Long’s story is one of hope and advocacy, in spite of what others may have expected. Michael was born with an intellectual disability and cerebral palsy, and in spite of the trials set before him, went on to achieve exceptional things. A Life Like Anybody Else recounts the events from his childhood to being the first person hired with a developmental disability by the State of California, and his present role in the disabilities awareness movement. Michael’s story is one of inclusion, acceptance and the courage needed to spur proactive change for others. 

When Michael was born, the doctors told his parents he may never speak, but he did. As a child in the second grade, a teacher ignorantly referred to his mental state and attempted to demoralize him. These ill-informed comments caused self-esteem issues, and for Michael, the feeling that he was different, or less than others. But in 1986, after a personal development class, everything changed. His confidence grew, and what he had always heard from his own family, he now began to believe. Michael knew he could live a life like no other, which is exactly what he has done. 

He founded a self-advocacy movement called People First and set up chapters all across California and abroad to help others. In 1992, Governor Pete Wilson of California hired Michael as a Consumer Coordinator at the Department of Developmental Services, making him the first person to be officially hired by the State of California with an intellectual disability. 

 A Life Like Anybody Else is a powerful memoir that calls for inclusion, education and acceptance for all. It will inspire readers to achieve their goals, to overcome obstacles, and will highlight misperceptions surrounding people with disabilities.

TIMELY TIE-INS

  • Men’s Health Month- June
  • Disability Pride Month -July
  • Americans with Disabilities Act Anniversary -July 26 
  • National Nonprofit Day-August 17
  • Disability Awareness Day- September 5 
  • National Disability Employment Awareness Month & Learning Disability Awareness Month- October 
  • World Cerebral Palsy Day- October 6
  • National Family Caregivers Month- November
  • World Kindness Day- November 13
  • International Day of People with Disabilities -December 3

TALKING POINTS

  • Michael Long can share how the topic of disability awareness and opportunities for the disabled are approached by society from first-hand knowledge
  • Expose the need for acceptance and awareness of people with disabilities in our schools’ curriculums
  • We are living in a world where different isn’t always seen as good. Michael brings a unique perspective to this discussion 
  • 5 Ways an inclusive society is better for everyone 
  • The importance of social awareness and advocacy groups, what it means to the disabled community and the community at-large 

Michael Long is an author, advocate and inspirational speaker, who hopes to focus his life’s work on awareness and inclusion of people with disabilities within the educational sector. Michael’s story is the American Dream, and one of acceptance, triumph and advocacy. He now looks to inspire and motivate others with this message.

ADVANCE PRAISE

“A book told in the voice of an individual with disabilities is a rarity. This book — so rich and full, so vivid and moving, so free of cliché, so bursting with hope — is a marvel.” Rachel Simon, New York Times bestselling author of Riding the Bus with My Sister and The Story of Beautiful Girl

“Wonderful … Informative and inspirational … A different perspective.” — Barbara E. Bromley, Ph.D., California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

“Michael Long tells the truth in this book. And the truth about what it means to be a human being is hard to come by.” Nancy R. Thaler, Deputy Secretary for the Office of Developmental Programs, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

“Every page is full of breathtaking honesty, hard-won insights, love for others so deep you feel it in your own bones, clarity about the rights of people with disabilities, and enthusiasm for all life has to offer, from education to employment to civic involvement to romance to living the American Dream. His journey from child to man is populated by many naysayers who put him down and tell him what he cannot do, but also caring parents, good friends, and one teacher who made a huge difference. As I read on, watching Michael come to believe in himself, move into an independent life, and strive to make his mark on the world, my emotions rose and fell and rose again — until he became a prominent and influential self-advocate and public speaker, and then, my heart soared.”  Rachel Simon, New York Times bestselling author of Riding the Bus with My Sister and The Story of Beautiful Girl

“Michael has made presentations in my Mainstreaming and Special Education classes for a number of years. I cannot praise Michael’s contributions enough…He is an example of the results for which we all strive.” — Patricia M. Phipps, Ph.D., Professor / Special Education, California State University, Chico

“Michael Long has been a visionary pioneer forging dreams of a future where people with disabilities are living, working, learning, and playing in communities that recognize the value of all people. He is an outspoken, courageous leader and ‘hero’ in the self-advocacy movement. … I have personally witnessed the transformation in others when they have been ‘touched’ by Michael — he is a unique and generous human being.” — Laura Larson, Executive Director, State Council of California Developmental Disabilities Board