Serge Kovaleski - New York Times Journalist

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Dear Mr. Trump: A Letter From A Mother Whose Daughter Struggles With Her Own Special Needs

Dear Mr. Trump:

Serge Kovaleski, NY Times Journalist
Serge Kovaleski, NY Times Journalist (

I watched the CNN news clip of your recent Presidential campaign stop where you imitated the way you thought New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski would react if questioned regarding a previous story he’d written. Mr. Kovaleski has arthrogryposis, a congenital joint condition that limits the flexibility in his arms. As soon as I saw the way you bent your hands and moved your arms as you attempted to demonstrate his supposed response, my mouth fell open. I couldn’t believe you mocked a person with a physical disability.

You see, this imitation hit home pretty hard for me. Although my daughter, Lindsey, (35) has some developmental delays, she is high functioning. She lives on her own, works a part-time job, and walks all around our small town. Her most obvious disability is her benign essential tremors. She’s had them ever since she suffered a grand mal seizure when she was sixteen-months-old. These tremors can cause her upper body, head, and arms to tremble like a Parkinson’s patient —although Parkinson’s has never been her diagnosis.

Her shaking has drawn a lot of attention and questions from strangers over the years. There are times when her movements resemble the movements you made on stage. When she was young, some kids (we called them bullies) teased her and imitated her shaking—just like you attempted to imitate Mr. Kovaleski’s condition. You may have exaggerated his movements, but you actually captured several of my daughter’s. And until yesterday, I’ve never known an adult to mimic my girl’s disability in the way you attempted to mimic the journalists.

From past news clips, Mr. Trump, I know you don’t try to be politically correct. I know you don’t even try to protect another person’s feelings from hurt. But I’m at a loss as to why, being the intelligent human being you profess to be, that you can’t seem to understand that individuals with disabilities struggle more and work harder to do the things that may come easy for you, for me, or for anyone without a recognized physical handicap.

Mr. Kovaleski is evidently a competent journalist (although you appear to disagree with this issue). In addition to the New York Times, he’s reported for The Washington Post and has received a Pulitzer Prize for his work. Yet you loutishly attempted to distract from his journalistic endeavors by making fun of his disability, as if his inability to adequately control his limbs translates to him being unable to create a decent and accurate article.

Lindsey (2015)
Lindsey (2015)

When I showed the news clip to my daughter, I watched her reaction. As soon as she saw you begin to mimic Mr. Kovaleski’s perceived awkward movements, she turned her entire body away from the screen.

“That’s wrong, Mom!” she said. “No one should make fun of people like that.” Then she went on to tell me it hurts when strangers bring attention to her tremors. She worried about the man you were impersonating. “I can’t help it. I try to do the best I can, but I can’t control the shaking. Maybe he can’t either.”

She refused to watch the rest of your news clip. “Why would he do something like that?” she asked. “He’s a grown man.”

I shook my head. “I don’t know, Lindsey,” I said. “I just don’t know.” I explained you are running for President of the United States and are on the campaign trail trying to win over votes.

“Well, not my vote,” she said. “He can’t have mine.”

So Mr. Trump, I’m sure you will use one of the excuses you’ve always used when you’ve opened your mouth without thinking and said or done something so outrageous certain segments of our society recoil.

Once again, it feels as if you are the bully on the playground. But in my world, my opinion doesn’t matter as much as my daughter’s. She is the one with a noticeable tremor, a genuine disability. And she says you were out of line.

Fortunately, from what we’ve read on the internet, it looks as if you’ve been offered sensitivity sessions to deal with your lack of compassion for individuals different from yourself. Our recommendation? Sign up immediately. Please. The sooner the better.

Linda Atwell

Loving Lindsey Cover

My first book will be coming out September 26, 2017. If you are interested in learning more about Loving Lindsey: Raising a Daughter with Special Needs, please click here.

I share many passions in this world: antiquing, gardening, hiking, traveling, taking amateur photographs, writing, sitting on a white, sandy beach with my husband and sipping a frozen margarita—just to name a few. If you enjoy any of these things too, let's connect! The world is better with friends.

  • BOOM! YES! Lindsay has the right idea. So glad you wrote this xo

  • Debbie Garvin

    Lindsay is much smarter than Donald Trump. He could learn a thing or two from her.

    • Debbie—your are so funny. Trump could definitely learn from Lindsey. Maybe she ought to run the sensitivity sessions. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by. Sure appreciate you leaving a comment. I can’t believe all the shares on this post. Merry Christmas to you!

  • Linda and Lindsey, you two are quite the team! So glad Linda wrote this post, and so glad Lindsey won’t stand for Mr. Trump’s bad behavior. Way to go, ladies!

    • We appreciate another woman who handles herself well. I’m so glad we had the opportunity to meet and get to know each better. I hope our paths cross many, many times over the upcoming years.

      • Thanks, Linda! We will make certain our paths cross as often as we possibly can. It would be my pleasure indeed!

  • FlutistPride

    Leave it to Donald Trump to have poor taste….

    • And he seems to have it over and over and over…. Thanks for stopping by and reading and leaving a comment. We sure do appreciate the love.

  • Janet Galvez

    Very well written! Hugs to you and Lindsay!

    • Thank you Janet. She loves hugs. I’ll be sure to pass on onto her.

  • Amanda Canfield-Kidd

    I love this! And I love Lindsey! I went to high school with her. You have done such a great job with her. She is the sweetest, most considerate person! Bless you both!

    • Amanda: I plan to read all these comments to Lindsey and I know she will be thrilled to hear you went to school with her. Your words meant the world to me today. I know they will mean a lot to her too. Thank you so much for reading and stopping by to leave some us some love.

  • Kristi – Finding Ninee

    It’s not like Trump was going to even be considered as somebody worthy of my own vote, but the fact that he stood on a stage and made fun of somebody… I am so angry and so sad, and and and. Thank you for the video and for writing this. Love to you and Lindsey, Linda! xoxo

    • Trump was never somebody I had EVER considered voting for either, but the more stuff he does, it ultimately cements my decision as far away from his politics as possible.

      I can’t believe how much we think alike. Happy holidays.