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.

For Kids With Special Needs Who Crave Structure, Tips For Some Summer Fun

Summer is upon us. Thoughts have turned from desks to lounge chairs, from carpools to lazy afternoons by the pool and from early morning alarms to long evenings spent making s’mores and catching fireflies. It’s typical to believe that all families look forward to things like summer vacation, but assumptions like these can be a challenge. Children with a variety of learning and other disabilities thrive on the structure and routine of the academic year, making summer vacation, with its large stretches of unscheduled time, overwhelming for both children and their parents. Add to this concern about the loss of academic skills acquired throughout the year (commonly referred to as “summer slide”) and these few months might seem daunting.

Summer Family Fun. Getty Images

Exploring And Interpreting Disability In The Bible: Clearly And Comprehensively, Part II

In Part I of Exploring and Interpreting Disability in the Bible, a "wide-angle" perspective showed that the Bible does not often segregate the disabled. If biblical models encourage integration, why are many of us with disabilities still segregated?

Exploring And Interpreting Disability In The Bible: Clearly And Comprehensively

In recognition of the Shavuot holiday beginning on Saturday night, June 11, we have invited Rabbi Michael Levy to share his perspective on Torah and disability. This is the first of two parts. Rabbi Levy dedicates his writing to the marriage of Motti and Zahava Sturm.

A young Jewish boy prays at a synagogue in downtown Tehran. Getty Images

Two School Solutions For Jewish Children With Disabilities

If you are the parent of a Jewish child with disabilities, you have already learned that public schools “magically” welcome, include and teach children with disabilities very well. Indeed, where I live around the nation’s capital in Maryland, there are some of the best public school programs for children with disabilities in the country. Moreover, they are doing it with expert skills for tens of thousands of children at no cost (other than taxes) to families.

Take A Deeper Look: Supporting All Families

When a child has a medical problem, when a child is in the hospital, we get it.  As family, friends, and neighbors, we understand the emotional and physical strain on the child and his or her family.

Whether we call, send texts, arrange for meals, run errands, drive carpools, or simply check in to offer support, we know we need to do something. We often feel awkward or guilty if we don’t at least offer to help.

The Steinart family. Courtesy of Michelle Steinhart

The Kindness Of Strangers And The Strangeness Of Family

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Rabbi Heschel’s famous saying that when he was younger, he admired people who were clever, but as he grew older, he admired people who were kind.  There is genius in that, in recognizing that kindness is key, to everything.  And most especially when there’s a disabled child in the mix. 

Nina Moglinik

Seeing The Person, Not The Disability

Most weekends, my thirteen-year-old son George and I go food shopping together. He likes to push the cart, pick out his favorite treats and help me count out pieces of fruit and drop them into bags. He’s also very fast and organized at unpacking our grocery cart.

The author's son George helping unpack groceries. Courtesy of Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Parsha Emor, Responses To Disability And What Must Change

Parsha Emor contains a disturbing mitzvah: those priests who have disabilities are explicitly prohibited from officiating at the Temple. Of course this related to a tiny percentage of a tiny percentage of the population—grown men whose fathers were Kohanim. It was only relevant during Temple times and only with respect to animal sacrifices. So it may be irrelevant. Until the Temple is rebuilt there is no possibility of sacrifice. Even when the Temple is rebuilt it may be that, following Rambam, there will be no sacrifices. So why the geshrei?

Disability Inclusion. Courtesy of Google Images

Celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, May 19th

Editor's Note: Accessibility Partners was one of last year's "Ruderman Best in Business Award" winners. Nominate a company that hires people with disabilities for this year's award!

Get ready to have your world rocked, because on Thursday, May 19, 2016, Accessibility Partners is celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). This is an international effort of disability and accessibility advocates with the overall goal of getting people talking, thinking and learning about digital accessibility and users with disabilities.

For a day of this magnitude, we want to bring the awareness to everyone: a free overview of your website’s homepage for accessibility OR a review of a document of up to 3 pages (Microsoft Word or PDF).

Global Accessibility Awareness day. Courtesy of Sharon Rosenblatt

Innovative Housing Model For People With Autism And Other Disabilities

Editor's Note: We are sharing Denise Resnik's powerful blog about a new housing model for adults with disabilities. Denise's blog originally appeared on Home Matters.

Thankfully, much has changed since we were told to plan to institutionalize our son Matt 23 years ago when he was doagnosed with autism-–and yet, much still needs to change to respond to the housing demand at our doorstep.

Matt represents a generation of more than 500,000 U.S. children with autism entering adulthood this decade. In many ways, I’ve been planning for what happens when the school bus stops coming almost from the first day it arrived. Where will he live? How will he be safe? How can we be sure he’ll be happy, healthy, productive and not sliding backwards?

First Place Phoenix. Courtesy of Denise Resnik
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