Posted: Fri, 07/04/2014 - 07:54 | Posted by: Michelle Steinhart | The New Normal
Avi puts on tefillin with his father. Courtesy of Michelle Steinhart

So, Jewish life after Bar Mitzvah… It is hard to believe that there is life after Bar Mitzvah!  Since our son Avi was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, we have been very goal-driven.  What did he need to achieve his goals?  How can we maximize his potential?  What will his role be in the Jewish community, if any?  Until quite recently, this was very much a blur.  Some days the answers seemed clear; other days, we had no idea.  

As I wrote in a blog a few months back, Avi’s Bar Mitzvah was more than we could have ever imagined. 

Posted: Wed, 07/02/2014 - 06:59 | Posted by: Rabbi Ilana Garber | The New Normal

In our world of parenting a child with special needs, all you have to do is say “Holland” and everyone knows you are dealing with challenging days and lost dreams. As Emily Perl Kingsley expressed in her famous poem, having a child with special needs is like planning a trip to Italy only to land in Holland. There is a new language, new places to visit and new people to meet. Everything is different, but that does not mean it’s bad.

It has taken me a long time to be able to write that — and truly mean it. And while it is still painful to realize we are in "Holland," having a 3-year-old son with Fragile X Syndrome has inspired me to be a better mother and to become an advocate for his needs and the needs of other children and adults with this genetic disorder.

Posted: Sun, 06/29/2014 - 18:51 | Posted by: Meredith Englander Polsky | The New Normal
Meredith Polsky

Just over a year ago I wrote on this blog about my daughter, Lucy, who was leaving our local Jewish community day school after first grade. I have been planning this “one year later” blog post for quite some time – and yet, when I go to put pen to paper, I don’t know where to begin.

So I’ll start with this: Lucy is doing great. She adjusted quickly and easily to public school. She is happy and confident and more than a few adults who know her have commented that “she is a different kid”. 

Posted: Tue, 06/24/2014 - 18:47 | Posted by: Rebecca Modell | The New Normal
Working on a new product. Courtesy of Shusterman Connection Points

Some 70 talented innovators in their 20s and 30s from around the world ran a very different kind of marathon in Israel, as they competed to invent prototypes of tools for people with disabilities using cutting-edge digital and 3D-printing technology.

Posted: Mon, 06/23/2014 - 19:48 | Posted by: Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer | The New Normal
Dr. Wendy Ross

Dr. Wendy Ross, a developmental pediatrician in Philadelphia, founder of the nonprofit Autism Inclusion Resources (AIR) has recently been named a "CNN Hero."

As a doctor who regularly diagnosed children who have autism, Ross was heartbroken to hear stories of social isolation from the families whose children she was treating. Because many children with autism become overstimulated in loud, crowded or new environments, parents often opt to keep the family home rather than experience fun family outings, like going to a ball game. But Dr. Ross knew that isolation didn't serve her patients with autism well in the long run.