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 To Say To The Parent Of A Child With A Disability

Yesterday in this space, I discussed three surefire ways to shut down a conversation with the parent of a child who has a disability. Of course, talking about disability can be one of the trickiest, most awkward-moment-producing topics around. Differences raise fear and anxiety for all of us and that limits the chances for meaningful dialogue. But I hope that with increased disability awareness education, like my post of yesterday and this one, we can create more productive conversations. Try any one or all of these three topics!

Gabrielle Kaplan-Meyer

What Not To Say To The Parent Of A Child With A Disability

Forget religion and politics, sex and money: talking about disability can be one of the trickiest, most awkward-moment-producing topics around. As a parent of a child with a disability, I’ve participated in more than my share of unproductive conversations based in other people’s projections of my experience.

Gabrielle Kaplan-Meyer

A List That's Hard To Look At: Stapleton Not The Only One

My recent piece discussing what we could learn from Kellie Stapleton, a mother accused of trying to kill her daughter with autism and herself, inspired me to research other similar cases.

Here is what I found after a brief online search. This list is not comprehensive, and certainly can't begin to quantify the much larger number of caregivers who think about ending either their lives, or the lives of their children, or both.

Frances Victory

Lech Lecha: How To Speak Gently To Family

An incident in this week's Torah portion "Lech Lecha" involving Abram (soon to be Abraham) and his nephew Lot provides guidance on healing and sustaining relationships between family members.

Rabbi Michael Levy

Watch This Beer Commercial. Now Do Inclusion. Just Do It.

I don’t really drink beer.  Occasionally, on a hot day, with friends, I’ll slowly nurse one drink all day long.  I don’t really watch commercials, either.  Occasionally, when flipping channels, I stop if something catches my eye.  And yesterday something did.

This Guinness commercial made me want to drink more beer and watch more commercials.

Raising A Child With Autism? Yes, There's An App For That

Raising a child with a disability is overwhelming. My daughter was three and a half when I finally received her Autism diagnosis, but she’d been in early intervention therapies since she was 8 months old. PT, OT, ST, ABA, AVB, etc.; we worked our way through the therapy alphabet.

Dani Gillman

Noah: The Dove, And How To Offer Assistance

The Hebrew Bible spans about 3,500 years.  In the first eleven chapters of
 Genesis, a few verses may chronicle a few centuries.

Rabbi Michael Levy

Reflections On Kelli Stapleton, A Mother Accused Of Attempted Murderer

Research has shown that mothers of children with autism have the highest rate of stress compared to parents of children with any other special needs. Recently, Kelli Stapleton, a mother of a 14-year-old daughter with autism, allegedly tried to kill herself and her child by using carbon monoxide poisoning. The police rescued them and Mrs. Stapleton is expected to be charged with attempted murder. The first question that comes to mind is: What exactly drove this woman to try and kill herself and her child? 

Frances Victory

A Mom With A Disability: Having Children Via Surrogate

“Tell me again,” Nadav says. My six-year-old lays curled into my side as I rest my back in bed. Well, I explain. Ima's back was broken, and the doctors said I couldn't carry you in my tummy for such a long time because you would be too heavy. So we took a little bit of Ima, a little bit of Abba, a little bit from Hashem and put it all in to Jenn.

Shana Schochet Lowell

Yes, Joe Biden Had A Sukkah, And Matan Kids Decorated It

By this point, there's been quite a bit of buzz in the Jewish community about the fact that Vice-President Joe Biden not only celebrated Sukkot, but did so in a sukkah built on the grounds of his residence at Number One Observatory Circle.

And while this is amazing, there is more to the story, as there is more to a sukkah than its walls and roof. Hint: It's all about the decorations.

Dr. Jill Biden and the gang from Matan rejoicing at the vice-presidential sukkah. Photo courtesy Meredith Englander Polsky
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