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.

Autism Awareness Month: Sensory Overload And Jewish Holidays

Editor's Note: Originally published by Jewish Book Council as part of the Visiting Scribe blog series on The ProsenPeopleWe are delighted to share Liane Carter's perspective about autism and her family's experience.

Purim is one of the many “they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat” Jewish holidays. But for an autistic child like my son Mickey, Purim is first and foremost a holiday about sensory overload.

It starts with the noise: the raucous Purim spiel; the cacophony of gragers; the booing, howling, hooting, and hissing to drown out Haman’s name during the Megillah reading. Add blazing lights, the pink sugary smell of cotton candy, the bang and clang of carnival games, and the press of a hundred children pushing past him to grab the Dunkin Munchkins. It’s simply too much for an autistic child with a hyper-vigilant sensory system.

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

Join Us: "Toward Inclusion: Perspectives on Disability, Social Responsibility, and Belonging”

The Jewish disabilities inclusion community has long served as a model of collaboration and cooperation between of various backgrounds.  The recent Ruderman Inclusion Summit in Boston assembled hundreds of people from all parts of the Jewish world.  And the Ramah TIkvah Network has served Jewish campers of all backgrounds since 1970.  A “typical” camper may come from a Reform background, attend a Conservative Movement camp, and participate in activities sponsored by Chabad (Orthodox) or Friendship Circle. 

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

At AIPAC Conference, Improved Inclusion Efforts For People With Disabilities

As all organizations know, it is much easier to say you will be inclusive than to actually become inclusive. Real inclusion is intentional, not accidental. It takes real leadership and implementation efforts. Thankfully, during the past two years, AIPAC has made huge strides in this arena.

The Art of Giving: A Purim Challenge For People With And Without Disabilities

Guiltily, I admit that sometimes I don’t concentrate on the prayers that I am reciting.  Occasionally, however, a phrase that I have repeated for decades captures my attention. 

Rabbi Michael Levy

The Ruderman White Paper: On Police Violence, Media and Disability

Last week, the Ruderman Family Foundation (RFF) released its first “Ruderman White Paper”—a comprehensive, scholarly investigation of media coverage of disability in instances of police violence from 2013 to 2015. Its focus was to expose the lack of coverage on this important issue. New Normal editor Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer spoke with Jay Ruderman, Foundation President, about why the Foundation is supporting this kind of study.

Police Violence. Courtesy of Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr

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
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