Posted: Tue, 05/06/2014 - 07:57 | The New Normal

On Sunday May 4 and Monday May 5, over 120 Jewish educators in day and supplementary schools came together with special educators and professionals working in inclusion issues in Newtown, MA for Hebrew College’s sixth annual GISHA conference. (Gisha means "good ideas" in Hebrew.)

Posted: Tue, 05/06/2014 - 06:44 | The New Normal

Editor's Note: Last month, The New Normal featured Inclusion advocate Shelley Cohen's perspective on a new Jewish day school for children with learning disabilities opening in Manhattan next fall. Now, Dr. Yoni Schwab (Assistant Head of School) responds with his perspective on the Shefa School.

This fall, the Shefa School will open in the new Lincoln Square Synagogue building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. As a new, stand-alone, pluralistic Jewish day school for children with language-based learning disabilities in kindergarten through eighth grade, it will provide expert, immersive instruction to help students overcome dyslexia and other learning challenges that interfere with reading and writing. We have seen significant demand for such a school, with children quickly enrolling from throughout the New York area and from across the spectrum of Jewish practice and engagement.

Posted: Wed, 04/30/2014 - 07:11 | The New Normal

Autism Awareness Month is over, and at “The New Normal” we’re proud that we could bring you different voices from the spectrum, including My Experience: Autism and Judaism, Autism and Vacations, Can Autism Acceptance and Recovery Coexist? and Aspergers-Friendly Seder. We will continue to cover issues related to autism and the Jewish community throughout the year and wanted to close out the month with a round-up of some of our favorite autism websites. Please share your favorite autism-related websites and blogs in the comments below. Ours include:

Posted: Tue, 04/29/2014 - 13:21 | The New Normal

Passover has long been a challenging time of year for our family. Last year, in a piece about difficulties our family has attending seder, I wrote this:
Each year we hope that it will be better. That a year of further maturation and therapies will make it easier on Ben. And, therefore, for me too.

This year, however, we decided that hoping was not enough.

Posted: Tue, 04/22/2014 - 20:37 | The New Normal

Editor's Note: When Paula Fox first wrote for the New Normal, her tale of learning to read Torah only to struggle to reach the reading table inspired us to create the Bima Project. The idea was that we would help an interested synagogue create a more fully accessible bima that included an adjustable table. Paula and the folks in her shul moved rapidly toward this goal on their own and we are now thrilled to share their creative solution.

I learned to read Torah a year ago and now have read three times at Adath Jesurun Congregation in Minnetonka, Minnesota. As a wheelchair user, I was sitting too low to see the Torah on the regular Torah reading table. 

Posted: Mon, 04/21/2014 - 06:50 | The New Normal

As we approach the summer, many families are starting to make plans for camp, trips or cruises. Some parents of children with autism may feel as though it would be impossible to take a vacation with their son or daughter because of the child’s difficulty in behavior and communication and inflexibility in new situations (a characteristic of autism).

I recently came across a newspaper article that talked about Royal Caribbean’s first autism-friendly cruise line.