The New Normal

Everyone is welcome in The New Normal, a Jewish blog about disability. We're a source of information, inspiration and a challenge to received wisdom.

What Are YOU Thankful For? Part 3

Editor's Note: In honor of Thanksgiving, we asked our "New Normal" contributors to reflect on the intersection of gratitude and disability. We'd love to hear what you are thankful for in the comments below! Read parts one and two here.

Like most people of all faiths, I am grateful for family. Thanksgiving, the quintessential American holiday includes traditions involving family, food and celebration.  I am thankful for the people with disabilities and, in many cases, their families who have taught me a lot about that word family and about how struggles to improve society and to improve their local communities have results in that almost mythical tide that raises all boats. 

Steven Eidelman

What Are YOU Thankful For? Part 2

Editor's Note: In honor of Thanksgiving, we asked our "New Normal" contributors to reflect on the intersection of gratitude and disability. We'd love to hear what you are thankful for in the comments below! Read part one here.

When raising a child who has autism, a sleep disorder, and all of the other diagnoses that come as a result, I often hear, "I don't know how you do it." The simplest answer is that we all do what we need to do. This is our life; it is the only life we know. And even though it is extremely challenging at times, we love our son unconditionally and we do what we need to do to give him what he needs.

The Steinhart Family. Courtesy of Meir Pliskin Photography

What Are YOU Thankful For?

Editor's Note: In honor of Thanksgiving, we asked our "New Normal" contributors to reflect on the intersection of gratitude and disability. We'd love to hear what you are thankful for in the comments below!

When I thought about the question, what I am grateful/thankful for, the answer came to me very quickly.  I am grateful that my parents, my family and my friends constantly reinforced the notion “to keep trying.”  

Looking For A Guidebook On Inclusion? Check The Torah

Inclusion is a mindset. Inclusion means always thinking about who might be feeling “on the outside” and bringing them to “the inside” for meaningful engagement, contribution and belonging.  I believe this definition is consistent with the Torah’s direct and indirect inclusion messages.

Inclusion Collage. Courtesy of Temple Israel Center

Three Ways Teachers Can Make Parents Their Partners

Editor's Note: Thanks to Lisa Friedman and Matan for sharing this blog, which originally appeared on the Matan web site.

In our Matan Institutes we work with Jewish Educators to guide them in including children of all abilities in Jewish education, offering concrete teaching tools for reaching every student and empowering them to make lasting change in their schools and communities. One of the things we discuss at length is the critical need for strong partnerships between parents and the school.

Educators and classroom teachers can often get “stuck” on the various ways that parents challenge them and they typically want specific pointers on how to handle difficult conversations with parents.

Parents As Our Partners. Courtesy Of Matan

Ruderman Inclusion Summit: "Including Humans In Human Activity"

More than 550 activists in the field of inclusion for people with disabilities from around the world came together for the Ruderman Family Foundation’s first-ever international Inclusion Summit, which took place in Boston on November 1st and 2nd.

Award-winning journalist John Hockenberry. Courtesy of Noam Galai

Senator Tom Harkin, Driving Force Behind The Americans With Disabilities Act, Receives Morton E. Ruderman Award

“We’ve come so far as a country since passage of the Americans with Disability Act. However, the work is far from over. Economic self-sufficiency, that's the bone in my throat. That's the thing that we just haven't really accomplished," former Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat of Iowa, told over 500 leaders in disability inclusion Sunday night November 1st at the inaugural 2015 Ruderman Inclusion Summit.

At the Summit, the Foundation honored Senator Harkin with the Morton E. Ruderman Award for his lifelong dedication to disability inclusion, including his steadfast work on the historic ADA bill. As part of the award, a $100,000 donation will be made to the Harkin Institute of Public Policy at Citizen Engagement at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa to help further tackle the most pressing issues facing those with disabilities.

Why "Pushing In" Benefits All Learners

Support Services for diverse learners, such as SETSS (Special Education Teacher Support Service) Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Counseling, are invaluable resources that can change the way a mainstream classroom accommodates students with disabilities.

Students who require this type of related services receive a legal document called an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) from their local education agencies, which dictates how often students should receive each therapy and for how long. Where the session takes place, however, can make a world of difference.

Each Of Us Deserves To Imagine Our Future: Lessons From Lech Lecha

The difficulty of paying attention while praying is so well known that it is a source of mirth. Tom Sawyer squirms until the minister's "Amen," after which he feels free to capture an annoying insect. Our sages were well aware of the mind's tendency to wander.  They rarely made concentration during prayer absolutely mandatory. One exception is the end of the first paragraph of the Amidah (silent devotion): "Blessed are You, Lord, the Shield of Abraham." The origin of the prayer perhaps explains the need to concentrate during its recitation.

Autism, A Roll Of Tape And Ways To Make Classroom Inclusion Real

Editor's Note: This blog originally appeared in e-Jewish philanthropy.

In my work as a coach and trainer at Ramapo for Children I partner with hundreds of schools, community organizations, agencies and synagogues to create inclusive environments for the broadest range of children to become successful.

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