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Posted: Tue, 08/16/2016 - 12:07 | The New Normal

This has been a grueling political season, full of rancor and too much ugliness to catalogue.  Some days, I just want to hide under the covers and pretend it’s all a bad dream. But then I think about my children. 

Having children is, at least for me, the ultimate act of cockeyed optimism. There are so many reasons to be fearful of bringing children into the world, of exposing them to the awfulness to which human beings can lower themselves. But then of course there is the profound, unparalleled opportunity to try to shape another human being by the values and beliefs you hold dear, and that is in many ways irresistible. Not to mention sometimes just flat out joyous fun.

Posted: Thu, 08/11/2016 - 10:15 | The New Normal

Editor's Note: This blog originally appeared on newsworks.

It's been over a decade since my son George, 13, was diagnosed with autism, which means that it's been that long that I've been a member of a certain tribe: that of special needs parents.

Through the ups and downs of the challenges that my husband and I have faced coming to understand how best to meet our son's needs, I've met, shared with, laughed and cried with so many resilient, insightful, spiritual, funny parents who are doing what I'm doing—extreme parenting with no road map, taking life not one day, but one hour and sometimes one minute at a time.

Despite the intensity of the experience, many, though certainly not all, of us live with a sense of purpose and even a sense of peace.

Posted: Wed, 08/10/2016 - 07:40 | The New Normal

Until yesterday, I only felt sadness and despair about about the massacre of people with disability in Japan on July 26th. Then I realized there was something I could do. You, too. Actually, you're likely already doing it.

The attacker stabbed 19 people to death as they slept at the Tsuki Yamayuri-en facility in Japan and wounded 26 others. The suspect, a 26-year-old former staffer, had planned the killings, Reuters noted. In fact, he'd stated that he was going to do the deed in two letters given to the speaker of the lower house of parliament in February.

Posted: Thu, 08/04/2016 - 07:19 | The New Normal

When Hillary Clinton took to the stage the final night of the Democratic National Convention, several disability activists had one question for the candidate. Will she include people with disabilities in a meaningful way in her speech?

The convention already had touched on disability issues—from Anastasia Somoza, a young woman with cerebral palsy delivering a speech Monday, and Sen. Tom Harkin highlighting the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Tuesday, to discussions on mental illness and drug addiction, as well as speakers such as Rep. Gabby Giffords and Rep. Tammy Duckworth addressing the convention.

Posted: Mon, 08/01/2016 - 09:14 | The New Normal

Children are served best in classrooms and other learning enviornments that consistently take into account their specific learning needs. The support children receive is most effective when it is offered throughout the entire day of learning—by all educators—as opposed to only specific periods of the day.

With this premise, in November 2011, the Jim Joseph Foundation awarded a grant to Boston-based Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) (in partnership with Gateways: Access to Jewish Education and Yeshiva University School Partnership) for the development and implementation of the B’Yadenu model in five Boston-area Jewish day schools: Gann Academy, Jewish Community Day School, Maimonides School, Solomon Schechter Day School and Striar Hebrew Academy of Sharon.

Posted: Tue, 07/26/2016 - 13:41 | The New Normal

Editor's Note: Thanks to RespectAbilityUSA for sharing this blog that originally appears on their web site.

“I am here today to tell you a story of hope,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, before speaking about his life and experiences as a person with multiple disabilities.

“It’s a story of a young boy with physical and severe learning disabilities,” Malloy said.

He related his early experiences and how “reading and writing were almost impossible” for him.

“A child thought to be, as the term was used in the early 1960s, ‘mentally retarded’ as late as the fourth grade. A boy who could not tie a shoe or button his shirt until the fifth grade. Someone who knew the harsh words of bullies on the playground and discrimination in the classroom.”