The New Normal Blog

Posted: Mon, 07/25/2016 - 07:41 | Posted by: Nina Mogilnik | The New Normal
Therapist Charles Kinsey was shot by a North Miami police officer. Courtesy of NBC

Editor's Note: If you are following the disturbing story of the shooting of an unarmed therapist trying to help his autistic client by a Miami police officer, there has been an update over the weekend in which the officer has confessed that the bullet was actually intended for the man with autism sitting in the road with his toy truck.

I woke up one recent July morning, and I wept. As per my usual habit, I checked the news shortly after getting up. The first story I landed on was about a Miami police officer shooting the caretaker of a young autistic man who had wandered away from his center, and whom the caretaker had gone after to bring back. There’s no mystery here about the circumstances of the shooting, no reason to parse the police version of the story vs. the victim’s story. There’s just this:  a black man lying on his back, his empty hands up behind his head, and his autistic charge sitting nearby, playing with his toy truck. If you don’t believe me, here it is: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was completely rattled by this story.

Posted: Wed, 07/20/2016 - 15:20 | Posted by: Erica Steen | The New Normal
A Summer of Service participant. Courtesy of Erica Steen

These days, many high schools require teens to earn community service/volunteer hours to graduate. That’s easier said than done by any teen, and even more difficult for teens that aren’t neuro-typical. Parents of teens with disabilities have enough responsibilities without having to worry about how they will help their teen get volunteer hours.

Enter the Edlavitch DCJCC’s Morris Cafritz Center for Community Service’s Summer of Service Camp. With close to 30 years of experience putting together volunteer projects to help the DC community give back, and the expertise of amazing special education teachers, Summer of Service is a place where teens of all abilities can come together to strengthen the community and change lives. This unique program was co-founded by RespectAbilityUSA, with seed money from the Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund.

Posted: Tue, 07/19/2016 - 07:15 | Posted by: Dr. Tamir Rotman | The New Normal
A participant in Free Spirit Israel. Courtesy of Tamir Rotman

What is it about Israel that draws so much attention and interest? In this case, it's the positive attention and focus that is in the spotlight. Since the early nineteen hundreds (and possibly millennia earlier), Israel attracted Jewish youth looking for adventures and an opportunity to prove that they are better than what their previous circumstances set them up to be.

Posted: Fri, 07/15/2016 - 07:27 | Posted by: Rabbi Rebecca Schorr | The New Normal
'The A Word' takes an unwavering look into the world of a family grappling  autism. Courtesy of Sundance TV

It was Benjamin’s fifth birthday party. We had dozens of friends and family coming to our home to celebrate with him. The details of the party had been planned for weeks, and Benjamin had been looking forward to the day. Everything was going according to plan. Until it wasn’t. A relative had walked into the party and approached Benjamin for a hug. He recoiled from her touch and, screaming, ran to seek solace in his bedroom. Where he remained for the remainder of his party.  

The premiere episode of "The A Word," a British import on the Sundance Channel — and based on an Israeli drama — opens with the birthday party of five-year-old Joe. And like my son, Joe’s party is interrupted by behaviors that appear to be caused by the overstimulation that often occurs for those on the autism spectrum.

Posted: Thu, 07/07/2016 - 09:29 | Posted by: Nina Mogilnik | The New Normal
The author's three children in Copenhagen. Nina Mogilnik

I consider family vacations the most important thing our family does for itself. But these outings have never been without complications, and having an autistic child in the mix makes everything a bit more challenging. Although Noah is now 20 years old, vacations are still something to which we give great thought, and through the years, we’ve learned a lot, struggled at times, and racked up some pretty spectacular memories.

I recall the first time we took Noah on a plane. He was about 4 years old, and we took him and his older brother, Sam, to Florida. About 15 minutes into the three-hour flight, Noah was ready to de-plane. It was not a pretty sight, but my husband and I did our best to distract him, and we got to our destination not too much worse for wear.

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