autism

Technology Can Enable A New World For People With Autism

Editor's Note: This blog originally appeared on Forbes. The Jewish Week Media Group is partnering with the Ruderman Family Foundation to recognize companies that hire people with autism and other disabilities for the "Ruderman Best in Business Award." Nominate a company in your community today!

April 2, 2016 was designated World Autism Awareness Day. Many world monuments were lit up in blue lights to show support for the cause. Colorful ribbons and pins were worn and emotional sentiments were plastered all over social media. While the gestures themselves were moving, the concept of autism “awareness” is simply not enough. Without autism “acceptance and inclusion”, none of this actually makes a difference.

A Company That Supports Employees With Autism. Courtesy of Rising Tide Car Wash

Autism And Faith: A Conversation With Shelly Christensen

Editor's Note: This blog originally appears on Faith Inclusion Network.

I initially “met” Shelly Christensen on the phone, when I called with some questions related to the inclusion of people with disabilities into Jewish communities.  She was incredibly generous with her time and, some 40 minutes later, I felt like I had a new friend in Minnesota.  Not long afterward, we got the chance to meet in person at an AAIDD conference and now we talk frequently since she is a Faith Inclusion Network National Board Adviser. 

Shelly has a lot of experience as a faith and disability advocate, traveling across the country to speak and be involved in many large Jewish and interfaith initiatives.  But what I appreciate personally about Shelly is her gift of encouragement.  I always come away from our conversations feeling wonderful!  Thank you for that beautiful gift and for all you continue to do to further the national faith and disability movement, Shelly.

Shelly and her son Jake. Courtesy of Shelly Christensen

New York Voter Guide On Disability Issues

Editor's Note: Thanks to RespectAbilityUSA for sharing this important coverage of the Presidential election with us.

As voters prepare to head to the polls in New York, RespectAbility is releasing its New York Disability Voter Guide. The #PwDsVote 2016 Campaign Questionnaire was designed for people with disabilities (PwDs) and those who love them to know where candidates stand on the issues.

New York Disability Voter Guide. therespectabilityreport.org

From An Autism Mom: 5 Things I Know To Be True

Autism can be so unpredictable. There's no cure, there's not one widely agreed upon cause, and no two people with autism are exactly the same. I remember when my daughter was first diagnosed at 3 years old, I asked questions like "will she ever be fully independent? will she go to college? will she marry? will she drive a car?" Of course, no doctor or therapist could answer that with certainty- and I asked them all! It's funny to look back at that time and think about how important those things were to me then, and to realize how very unimportant they are to me today.

There are just too many things about autism that are variable and uncertain. However, here are five things I know to be true about autism:

Dani Gillman

Baseball For All With Jerusalem's Friendship Circle

JERUSALEM—What was most noticeable at last week’s baseball game between the “Cubs” and the “White Sox” at Jerusalem’s Kraft Stadium were the smiles and laughter as players stepped up to the plate and then rounded the bases in an inaugural game for children with special needs, sponsored by the Friendship Circle of Central Jerusalem.

Baseball For All. Courtesy of Chabad.org

Self-Care And Spring Cleaning: Tips For Parents Raising Kids With Disabilities

As spring approaches, we begin to clean our homes and throw out items we no longer use. Whether it is the toy that your child no longer plays with or the sweater that your spouse never wears, spring cleaning is a time of “out with the old and in with the new”.

Self-Care Mantra. Courtesy of Google Images

Announcing The Second Ruderman "Best in Business" Award: Recognizing Companies That Hire People With Disabilities

Last spring, the Ruderman Family Foundation partnered with the Jewish Week Media Group to produce its first Ruderman “Best in Business” supplementrecognizing exemplary businesses that have demonstrated a history of employing people with disabilities, training and supporting them and developing innovative approaches to maximizing employee’s abilities. Ten businesses were selected through a national nomination and review process and were profiled in both a print and online supplement.

Ruderman "Best in Business" Supplement 2015

How Musical-Visual Bar Mitzvah Rituals Communicated My Son’s Essence

On January 18, 2016, my son George Chaim became Bar Mitzvah at our synagogue, Mishkan Shalom. Like my fellow parents who have experienced their adolescent children going through this intensive rite-of-passage, I am still kvelling, sometimes teary-eyed, as I face the reality that we have already experienced thirteen years of his—and my—life together.

The author with her son, George. Courtesy of Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Preparing For Our Son's Bar Mitzvah Is A Coming-Of-Age Moment For Us, Too

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

In less than a week, my son, George, will turn 13, and like generations of Jewish boys before him, he will become a bar mitzvah. 

For George, who is non-verbal and on the more severe end of the autism spectrum, his bar mitzvah service will be carefully modified. We've taught him how to select his Torah verses from an app on his iPad that he uses to communicate. Rather than a speech about his Torah portion, he is painting a collage about it. He will deliver prayers from his front row seat, as standing before the congregation would cause him sensory overwhelm.

As we've prepared for his service, I've questioned my choices.

The author with her son, George. Courtesy of Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

What Hillary Clinton's Autism Initiative Really Means

On Jan. 5, Hillary Clinton revealed an autism initiative that is fairly comprehensive in scope. It includes programs tailored towards all age groups, from early diagnosis in toddlers (particularly those in underserved communities), to educational support and anti-bullying strategies for students, to increased housing and employment options for adults.

More impressively, Clinton navigated the political minefield that is the autism community fairly successfully.

The author with her son. Courtesy of Amy Lutz
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