(@Nataliew1020/Twitter)

Disabled children advocate Natalie Weaver from Cornelius, North Carolina, is aware of the cruel realities of discrimination by internet trolls all too well.

When a proposed policy change to Medicaid in her state threatened the well-being of her disabled daughter, Weaver became an active spokesperson.


Weaver's 9-year-old daughter Sophia suffers from Rett syndrome - a neurological disability affecting speech and basic motor functions like walking, eating, and breathing.

Sophia also suffers from an undiagnosed syndrome that causes facial disfigurement and deformities to her hands and feet.

"She's had 22 surgeries," Weaver told CNN.

"She has a feeding tube. A colostomy bag. She has seizures and choking spells because of both the deformities and the Rett syndrome."



Natalie Weaver's daughter Sophia has Rett syndrome, a neurological disorder that impairs brain development. A particularly cruel tweet led Weaver on a months-long struggle to protect her daughter. http://cnn.it/2E8PJOP pic.twitter.com/piDx8tSPb6 twitter.com



Frustrated over the impending health reform in her home state, Weaver went public about her daughter's health conditions online.

That's when the mother began receiving hate messages from trolls, telling her she'd be better off by "killing her child."

"People, they seek you out and want to hurt you."
"There are people who go out of their way to make sure you see their cruelty. I get people telling me to kill my child, to put her out of her misery."

But the worst message came from a troll who exploited a picture of Sophia in a tweet to encourage other parents to abort fetuses with disabilities.

It read:

"It is okay to think that every child matters however a lot of them do not hence the amnio test which should be a mandatory test and if it proves negative and the woman does not want to abort then all bills accrued after that is on her and the father."

Weaver was appalled and asked for her friends and followers to track down the troll and report the tweet.

Eventually, Twitter suspended the offending poster.

Thank you @TwitterSupport & @jack for listening! The account that was using my daughter's image has been suspended! Thank you to the thousands of people who reported this & supported us! Thank you for taking a stand against hate!pic.twitter.com/77jPFljYPs twitter.com

But not everything was fully resolved.

The form users fill out on Twitter to report violations does not include a section for disability discrimination.

"Twitter needs to add people with disabilities as a category in their violation reporting. Otherwise people don't know the appropriate category to select for hate towards people with disabilities."


So Weaver took matters into her own hands to respond to the ignorance and the negativity inflicted on her daughter.

She introduced the world to Sophia so people could get acquainted with the person behind the face.

"Get to know Sophia in this Thread," Weaver tweeted, with a picture of her little girl.

"I realize that I have to share a lot of the bad things that go along with Sophia's conditions and fighting for her life, but today I'd like to share who Sophia really is."


Get to know Sophia in this Thread: I realize that I have to share a lot of the bad things that go along with Sophia's conditions and fighting for her life, but today I'd like to share who Sophia really is. She isn't her disabilities and she isn't her diseases.pic.twitter.com/cvxxz8gj38 twitter.com


Her all-time favorite color is Green! Sometimes she can even say Green. She loves all types of music and will pat her hand to the beat, perfectly. She enjoys popping bubbles and having us read to her. She also rolls her eyes at mommy and is sassy, just like a typical 9-year-old.pic.twitter.com/AJIJWWZf6D twitter.com



She is the reason I started advocating almost 2 years ago. She is the reason I was strong enough (with help from others) to save lifesaving services for thousands of kids in NC.pic.twitter.com/Sfn0o36F6Q twitter.com


She can wash away your pain and fears in an instant, just by holding her.pic.twitter.com/0MXwQM5uVg twitter.com


She is a major daddy's girl! She laughs all the time and has sweet dimples under her eyes when she smiles.pic.twitter.com/7KM1IRblFX twitter.com


Sophia has a younger brother and sister, named Alex and Lyla. They are growing up knowing compassion, unconditional love, and acceptance of people with differences.pic.twitter.com/17zDJDth8S twitter.com

Sophia undergoes routine surgical procedures and endures a lot of pain.

But in spite of it all, Weaver says her daughter remains a light in the family through her strength and courage.


Though Sophia experiences pain and challenges every day, she laughs and smiles in between those moments. She's had 22 surgeries but recovers quickly and handles pain really well. She surprises us every single time!pic.twitter.com/9nxzRO6tE2 twitter.com


"I think many times, people don't even view Sophia as a person," Weaver told CNN.

"I know it happens with other people with disabilities. And people view her as a disability, but I just want them to look at her as my child."


She has helped me become the person I was always meant to be. She has pushed me to face all my fears and I'm better because of her.pic.twitter.com/Ybn8BqbGH9 twitter.com



Though we have to deal with a lot of pain and challenges in our life, we know the true meaning of happiness and living in the moment. All the bad makes all the good even more amazing. We appreciate the little things and we love our beautiful girl. We are so proud of her.pic.twitter.com/dUFZGZrPz9 twitter.com



H/T - CNN, Indy100, Twitter

Photo by Jens Lindner on Unsplash

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