Meet The Moms
Iris & Alma
Iris & Alma
Iris Mehler, MS, CRC
Iris Mehler is going to be your best friend if you care about people with disabilities. She is excited to bring her passion for “striking the ‘dis’ and focusing on abilities” to as many people as possible.
Iris has 24 years of professional experience, and 13 years of personal experience as a parent and advocate, smashing barriers and screaming equality. In her previous life, she completed a masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and a post-graduate certification in Assistive Technologies (which became very useful once her daughter was born and their home suddenly turned into a durable medical equipment storage unit…).
Iris also holds bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Developmental Education in which she focused on alternative methods of learning, while teaching in child development centers in Tel Aviv, Israel and San Diego, CA. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), and is currently managing a team of 14 (professionals and paraprofessionals) in her daughter’s home-based, interdisciplinary rehab team.
Iris has worked extensively with people with disabilities as a career counselor through individual counseling and leading support groups.
After her daughter was born with quadreplegic cerebral palsy, she focused all her attention on creating a prototype for a play-based unschooling environment for her children. As a homeschooling family, Iris was able to take her children on global travels and explore other cultures with them. This also includes exposing other cultures to children with disabilities and their inclusion in such travels. One crazy adventure in particular she embarked on was to travel to India in search of the Dalai Lama because her daughter asked to meet him.
Iris has been involved in numerous efforts to bring attention to issues surrounding family life with disabilities. As part of that, her family was featured in a documentary film, Diaries of an Unconventional Journey. Her greatest achievement to date is the method she developed with her daughter’s help for communicating with non-verbal children with significant motor challenges called Kereni’s Method. This method takes the burden of communication away from the child and transfers it to the caregivers. Learn more about Kereni’s Method.
In addition to supporting families with communication challenges, Iris provides individual support to families in crisis after a new diagnosis, and consults for businesses and organizations on creating barrier-free and inclusive environments.
Alma Schneider, LCSW
Alma Schneider is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has nearly three decades of practice under her belt. She is a mother of four children, one of whom has Prader Willi Syndrome, Autism, ADHD and unbeatable charm and good looks.
Alma never planned or wanted to be a poster mom for families of children with disabilities but here she is! She finds sharing her life and work experience to be the most rewarding and valuable service she can provide to others in this lifetime. Her disability community has shown her the incredible beauty, resilience and kindness that exists, alongside the loss and challenges of living a life that was not expected. She would like to bring awareness, support and practical help to others about how to make their lives as rich and meaningful as they can be.
In 2010, Alma created the Montclair Friday Group, a free support and social policy group assisting hundreds of NJ parents to navigate schools, family life and society while raising children with disabilities.
In 2021, Alma was asked to be on the People with Disabilities Advisory Committee to the town council of Montclair, NJ to assist in making the town more inclusive and accessible.
Alma loves music which soothes her inner savage beast. She attended LaGuardia High School for Music and the Arts in NYC for voice and she also plays guitar but pretty badly. In 2005, Alma founded Parents Who Rock, LLC, a non profit association of musicians who perform concerts to raise funds for local charities.
Alma is also passionate about food and cooking. In 2008, Alma started Take Back the Kitchen, LLC, a consulting company helping families identify and overcome their psychological and practical obstacles to cooking.
Alma is a native New Yorker but left town to attend the University of Wi-Madison where she was a psychology Major. She returned to NY after living in Spain and Japan to receive her masters in Social Work at Hunter College School of Social Work. She is fluent in Spanish and can call a cab in Japanese.
Some other Alma Trivia:
Alma has worked at Planned Parenthood in WI, taught English in Japan, worked at the World’s Fair in Seville, Spain, worked on a psychiatric unit in Harlem, a Settlement House in Hell’s Kitchen, and Mercy Corps in NYC providing trauma work after 9/11.
She is a yard sale addict and cannot pass up a bargain. Ever.
She danced on stage with Baryshnikov at Lincoln Center when she was in the 4th grade.
She calls out anyone, including strangers, who uses the “R” word.