Posted: Mon, 09/22/2014 - 07:20 | The New Normal

The leaves are changing.  The air is crisp, with a hint of a chill.  The sweaters and long pants are coming out of storage.  No doubt about it.  Fall has arrived. 

And with the change in season will come changes in routine, changes in activities and changes in expectations.  All the things that fill the heart and gut of a special needs parent with fear and dread.

My son Gabe is six years old, and he has autism.  He is charming, and funny, and very very smart.  He also exhibits behavior at times that is unusual, challenging, and unpredictable. 

Posted: Thu, 09/18/2014 - 21:02 | The New Normal

Editor's Note: We recently a new study that shows how mindfulness practice reduces stress, anxiety and depression in parents of children with special needs. Rabbi Yael Levy integrates mindfulness practice into Jewish worship and offers suggestions for how we can use mindfulness to prepare for the High Holy Days.

Q: What is mindfulness?

Posted: Thu, 09/18/2014 - 20:30 | The New Normal

The time leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a time of introspection and intense planning. We think about the past year and reflect on how we have changed and grown. At the same time many of us are juggling work, getting kids ready for school, making travel arrangements, planning out the menu, buying brisket and baking challah.  Most of us are not thinking about how we are going to get through services. For a parent of a child with a disability this thought might be on the top of their list. There might be a feeling of apprehension about the community’s ability to welcome their family in an inclusive way.

Posted: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 06:40 | The New Normal

The Yom Kippur Haftarah portion describes God’s reaction to rituals that are practiced without regard to people who need help and deserve respect.

“To be sure, they (worshippers) seek Me daily,
Eager to learn My ways….
They ask Me for the right way,
They are eager for the nearness of God:
"Why, when we fasted, did You not see?
When we starved our bodies, did You pay no heed?"….

Because on your fast day, You see to your business, & oppress all your laborers! ...
Such a fast (will not) make your voice heard on high.

Posted: Tue, 09/16/2014 - 06:33 | The New Normal

If you read a lot of blogs and articles, particularly those focused on disability inclusion, it may seem like there a lot of “shoulds." This is how you should treat people with disabilities; this is how you should speak about people with disabilities; this is how you should include people with disabilities.

Maybe you read these “shoulds” and they spark within you an idea of a possibility and you are inspired to make a change. Or maybe you read them and find yourself feeling guilty.

Posted: Mon, 09/15/2014 - 13:43 | The New Normal

Editor's Note: This blog entry was submitted to us by a friend of "The New Normal" who wishes to remain anonymous.

This time of year is full of prayer and tears. We ask G-d to forgive us for our sins and to give us what we need in the year to come. G-d always answers us, although sometimes it is hard to see or hear.  At times “luck” is on our side and others it seems as though the world is falling apart.

Over the past few months G-d has given me personal tests that I would rather do without.  A divorce, needing to move, looking for a new job ... all are things that I would have buried myself under the covers to ignore.  But luckily, with the support of a good therapist, amazing parents and friends, I have been able to overcome my ostrich-like habits.

But there is one thing that remains.  There is one thing that breaks my heart on a daily basis.  It has me searching for answers and crying my heart out.  My life’s challenges have impacted greatly on my daughter.