March 6, 2018 | Faces Of FREE

My name is Stefanie Russo. I was adopted at 2 ½ years old. I grew up going to church with my Mom and Dad. My Dad is an associate pastor at our church and I grew up going to a Christian School. My Mom was a huge advocate for me while I attended and fought to get services for me while I was there.

When I was four years old, I was diagnosed with ADHD and I have been on almost every medication there is for it. At the age of 14, I was diagnosed with a developmental disability called Turner Syndrome.
While attending Wilson Technical Center during my senior year of high school, I developed a passion for programming and the inner workings of computers.

In 2014, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, otherwise known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Later, in 2016, I had a stroke due to Turner Syndrome and lost the use of the left side of my body. Today, after physical therapy and rehab, you would hardly know I had a stroke.

I am now living on my own in an apartment and have a job working as a Peer Specialist at Family Residences and Essential Enterprises. I co-facilitate two of our self-advocacy groups. Speaker’s bureau raises awareness as we share our personal stories of dealing with life with a disability. I also sit on our Human Rights Committee and help with our statewide lobbying efforts.

I work towards my personal goals every day and continue to learn and advocate for myself and others with Developmental Disabilities.