Still, Danielle Sheypuk, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy, doesn’t let her disability keep her from dating and hitting the clubs. We can have good haircuts, wear high heels and are sexy,” said Sheypuk, a clinical psychologist who was recently crowned Ms. Sheypuk is in Ohio this week competing to become Ms.Wheelchair USA, using her tiara and her platform, to change stereotypes.“It’s difficult, especially in adolescence, because it’s assumed they’re not going to be dating or have sex or get married, so why talk to them,” she says. When it comes to dating, she lives by the advice she gives to her patients. “It’s a tough stage.” After the pageant, Sheypuk is going to increase her advocacy “10-fold” to make New York City wheelchair-friendly — from curb cuts to chair-friendly taxis.
SMA is caused by a missing or abnormal gene called SMN1, better known as the survival motor neuron gene.Finding out that your new baby has been born with special needs can be very overwhelming.If the disease is particularly severe, you might worry if you will have the financial means to make sure that your child has the best care available.Because children with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Types 0 and 1 have such a short life span, it is not beneficial for them to see an orthopedist.Supportive care is necessary in the forms of feeding tubes and help to the respiratory system.“We want to be in a relationship the same way anyone else wants to be.” And she’s already helping others live fuller lives.Sheypuk, 34, works at the Bensonhurst Outpatient Clinic of South Beach Psychiatric Center in Brooklyn, where she specializes in dating and relationships for the disabled. The picture of New York chic, she looks equally fab in a short metallic Diane von Furstenberg dress and Chanel heels and then a bright pink BCBG dress with Brian Atwood stilettos.A quick chat with the club’s manager rectified that — and they were in. “We find it challenging to see if we can go and we might not have gotten in if I wasn’t in a wheelchair,” she says.“Since they don’t expect to see someone in a wheelchair, [most places] say, ‘Sure, come up.’ It’s good to be out there to show people.” Sheypuk wants to use her own experiences — and her expertise as a psychologist — to break down stereotypes and stigmas about dating among the disabled.Children with SMA1 may eventually learn to sit up with support, but little else.They generally survive about 2 years before needing respiratory support. If your child has been diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type 0 or 1, then you can feel confident that he or she will be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.