Disabled Writers is a resource to help editors connect with disabled writers and journalists, and journalists connect with disabled sources. Our goal is specifically to promote paid opportunities for multiply marginalized members of the disability community, and to encourage editors and journalists to think of disabled people for stories that stretch beyond disability issues. 


Vera Didenko

Image: A head shot of a smiling white adult individual, wearing a light gray trilby (covering most of their short dark blonde hair), a narrow purple-clear pair of eyeglasses, a gold necklace with a small circular gold medallion and a small peach silk ball, and a black v-neck shirt with a white circular pin featuring a multi-colored logo of Greater Cleveland Congregations. The background features unnamed individuals sitting in pews at a participating Greater Cleveland Congregations location.

Contact Vera: shakersquared at gmail.com

Vera Didenko is a disabled adult blogger who chronicles their life's journey and the adventures they encounter along the way. Vera is recognized for their contributions in both radio broadcasting, from 2001 to 2008, and federal government defense accounting, from 2008 to 2013.

Born with the name Vera Pletin in 1981, they were diagnosed with what was considered "mild autism" at age 3 1/2. The diagnosis led Vera to a severe behavorial handicapped preschool program, which they would take part for three years before being placed into second grade due to their math and reading test scores. In 1998, Vera graduated from Lakewood High School with a membership to the National Honor Society.

After one year of studies at Cuyahoga Community College in 1999, Vera decided to pursue a different path; paid volunteering. Vera signed up with Americorps City Year in 2000, and served until June 2001.

Shortly thereafter, Vera was accepted into the Ohio Center for Broadcasting, where they studied basic broadcast operations in both radio and television. Prior to graduation in 2002, Vera landed their first paying radio job with the Nationality Broadcasting Network, which included the satellite home to WKTX-AM/830 (based in Cortland, Ohio) and NBN-TV, providing visual content presented, primarily in the Hungarian language, to the SCOLA cable network. Also in 2002, Vera was employed by (the now defunct WWMK-AM/1260) Radio Disney Cleveland as a promotions assistant. In 2004, Vera began work for the Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting Company as a sales secretary for WEOL-AM/930 and a continuity assistant for both WEOL-AM and (at the time) WNWV-FM/107.3 until early 2008.

In 2008, Vera would be selected out of hundreds of applicants to work for Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), a subdivision within the U.S. Department of Defense, working in their Accounts Payable department until near the end of 2013. During their tenure, Vera had some growths, both personally and professionally; they legally changed their name to Vera Didenko in 2011, and led a team for the first time in 2012, as part of a site wide innovation fair. Vera was also a co-facilitator for the organization's annual customer service refresher course in 2012.

In early 2014, Vera began studying Judaism, both reading from their religious text as well as learning basics of the Hebrew language. Vera completed their Judaism conversion studies by becoming a Jew in mid-2015.

Vera was reassessed for autism a second time in late 2014, and received a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Level I, in early 2015. The diagnosis, similar to their first diagnosis, gave Vera motivation to pursue writing about their experiences. 

Vera started their first blog, "This, That, and Vera," in March 2015, chronicling what life was like as an autistic adult who was learning how to live life after decades of abuse. Their work continued over to their second blog, "Shaker Squared," in November 2017. Now, Vera has combined both of their online works into an updated version of "This, That, and Vera," in February 2018.

Since late 2014, Vera lives in the city of Cleveland, near the border of inner-ring suburb Shaker Heights. When Vera is not blogging, they like to go to Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, both to study and to worship. Vera also enjoys travelling, whether it's on public transit, by railway, or driving out into the middle of nowhere.

You can find Vera at This, That, and Vera


Learn From Autistics, May 2017: Voices From the Spectrum #35: Vera Didenko on Autistic Burnout

Autistics Speaking Day, November 2016: INFJs, Old Souls, and Vera

The Autism Positivity Project, May 2015: Acceptance and Love, Self-Care, and Vera #AutismPositivity2015

Vera is available as a source and for personal essays, opinion editorial, and reported features

Additional communication availability: Text, chat, videoconference

Languages: English (Fluent), Russian (Basic Written), Hebrew (Basic Written)

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Jax Jacki Brown

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Alyssa MacKenzie