Every so often a special needs story comes along that touches me deeply. The story of filmmaker Dan Habib’s award-winning work on behalf of his son, Samuel, is such a tale.

Perhaps it was Samuel’s thick, dark hair, big, inquisitive brown eyes and sweet smile that first captured my heart. Maybe it was the photo of him in the wheelchair required to realize hard-won freedom and growing independence that rang true, or the proactive response to the unexpected diagnosis and physical challenges of cerebral palsy by Habib’s family that most resonated with me.

Maybe it’s because there’s an older sibling involved.

Perhaps it was discovering that Samuel also had a tube inserted into his tender belly to ensure he received enough nutrition to achieve all those fragile parental dreams of inclusion and live a full, long life. Maybe it’s because I, too, know the parental love, pit-bull determination and sleepless nights required to realize even the smallest developmental milestones in a child with special needs. Or, because I’ve also learned how to turn unresolved grief of what might have been, into fully embracing the beauty of what is.

Most likely, it was all of the above.

The journey of Dan and Betsy Habib, and their sons Samuel and Isaiah, closely mirrors my family’s journey with our son, Eric. Habib’s on-going work to achieve inclusion for his son and other children with special needs does my heart good. I understand well the passion behind the quest to help change the inclusion landscape for millions of kids with special needs, passion fueled by a beloved son.

Read on for a small part of this terrific story, and then do yourself a favor and visit the website link below to find out more about Dan Habib’s ground-breaking work on inclusion and to find out how you can help him spread the message. This site will inspire and uplift you, and help fuel your own advocacy efforts.

Or, it should.


Dan Habib is more than an award-winning filmmaker and photojournalist. His professional accomplishments are impressive. But I’m recognizing him here, in part, because I believe that Habib is one special dad. Moms usually receive much of the credit for the parenting efforts and the success of their children, especially in special needs families. Most deserve such credit and more. But I believe strongly that dads are VIPS, too, and that their parental/advocacy contributions can help make or break a dicey parenting experience and improve the lives of all their children.

Dan Habib is one involved daddy.

Habib is the director and producer of the award-winning documentary Including Samuel, which documents the family’s efforts to include their now 10-year-old son, Samuel, in everyday life. Habib’s youngest son has cerebral palsy and needs a wheelchair to get around. Raising Samuel has been an unexpected parenting journey that Habib admits has transformed his life and that of his entire family.

Habib is also Filmmaker in Residence at the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. According to his website bio, Habib’s prior gigs include photography editor of the Concord Monitor. where he was also named the national Photography Editor of the Year for papers under 100,000 circulation. His freelance work has appeared in numerous publications, including Time, Newsweek, Life, Mother Jones and The New York Times. The filmmaker has been named New Hampshire Photographer of the Year six times and helped judge the Pulitzer Prize.

Heady stuff.

But this accomplished, talented and creative man readily admits that he rarely thought about the inclusion of children with disabilities before he had his son Samuel. Now it’s his life’s purpose. Dan’s passion, commitment, and his deep love for his child resonated with me the moment we first connected years ago. We are made of similar parenting cloth.

Check out this terrific dad and find out more about his work, family and the powerful documentary, ‘Including Samuel’ here.

It’s worthy of your valuable time.

Photo of Betsy, Samuel (10), Dan and Isaiah (14) Habib, & the Including Samuel DVD cover used with permission of Dan Habib.

Judy Winter
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations
Winter Ramblings Blog
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