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Mar 14 2013

How I Prepare My Autistic Son for Passover

By at 9:54 am
grilled cheese

No grilled cheese for eight days?

Every year around this time I come down with an acute form of memory loss. I call it Passover Brain. With just two weeks to go before the first Seder, the panic sets in and suddenly it’s as if I’m observing the holiday for the very first time.

Where did I store the seder plate? How do I get those crumbs out from way underneath the oven? Does anyone make haroset safe for my nut-allergic kids? And why–why–is the only thing in my “Pesach” folder a 3-year-old shopping list? Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 20 2013

Ten Things I Wish Someone Told Me About Parenting a Child with Special Needs

By at 9:47 am
liane kupferberg carter and son

Liane and her son.

As part of our month-long series dedicated to Jewish Disability Awareness Month, Liane shares advice for those just starting out on the special needs journey.

I’m a proud member of a tribe. No, not just that tribe. I mean the tribe of special needs parents. There’s no way you’d spot us in a crowd. But even without a secret handshake, special needs parents manage to find each other. Maybe it’s that unmistakable look of exhaustion and resolve many of us wear. Whatever it is, I’ve been part of this particular tribe for 20 years. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 13 2013

For My Son on the Autistic Spectrum, Where Does He Fit into the Jewish Community?

By at 9:45 am
jewish day school

Jewish day school. Photo credit: Clive Moss

As part of our month-long series dedicated to Jewish Disability Awareness Month, Benay shares her hopes and concerns about her son’s future Jewish education.

I watch my 5-year-old at Jr. Congregation on Shabbat, and I am amazed. Here, in a small room with children, songs, and a teacher he knows and loves, he is comfortable and in his element. He participates, and more than that, he wants to be a leader, a teacher, and a student. He runs onto the bimah in the sanctuary for Adon Olam, and he thinks he’s leading the congregation.

Witnessing my son’s emphatic participation is huge. He was first diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum at 2 years old. Thanks to my husband and sisters, who insisted he be evaluated on the early side, he has benefited from four years of intensive therapy with dedicated and talented therapists and teachers and has made astounding strides. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 9 2013

Special Education Speed Dating

By at 9:43 am

I’ve heard it said that you don’t know how good you’ve got something until it’s gone. This is a story about the opposite. How I didn’t know how lacking something was until I left.

As the Yiddish saying goes, change your location, change your luck.

When we picked up and moved more than three thousand miles away from our home in order for me to stay home full-time and be a better care giver to our son, who is on the autistic spectrum, I anticipated many positive changes. The most pleasant surprise, however, has been the school system. I now realize, with that ever-clear hindsight, that our old school system was lacking. Sorely lacking. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 19 2012

Traveling and Asperger’s Syndrome Don’t Always Go Together

By at 2:02 pm

airplane flying through the skyIn about one month’s time, God-willing, my newest niece or nephew is scheduled to make an initial appearance in Dallas, TX. The following week, family from all over the country will descend on the Lone-Star State in order to welcome him or her into our family and into our covenantal people. I, however, will be making the trip alone. And it saddens me.

Different families have different approaches, I have discovered, when it comes to family simchas. As far as my family goes, presence at a family celebration, be it a college graduation or a baby naming, is de rigueur. Even when it involves cross-country flights. Distance was never considered a barrier to attendance. Neither, to the best of my knowledge, were finances. Somehow there was always a way for the family to be together.

Which is why my decision to travel solo next month is a painful one. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 15 2012

News Roundup: New Studies on ADHD, Autism, and CT Scans

By at 12:56 pm

All the Jewish parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.

are you my mother? book cover

Part of the Kindergarten Canon.

- Education Analyst (and father) Michael Petrilli has developed a list of 100 books he feels every English-speaking child should read. (Thomas B. Fordham Institute)

- A new study by the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine shows that the development of ADHD in children may be linked to how much mercury-rich fish the child’s mother ate during her pregnancy. (Reuters)

- The Upper East Side is home to a great “breastfeeding resource,” Yummy Mummy, which caters to moms of every sort, and offers prenatal breastfeeding classes to locals. (New York Times)

- Children with autism may wander away from home more frequently than was once believed, according to a new study, which says that about half of those children with Autism Spectrum Disorder will run away from home, and of those, at least half are missing long enough to raise serious concern. (ABC News)

- A significant increase in the number of children given CT scans when brought to a hospital is raising a red flag for some who believe such tests may increase the risk of cancer later in life. (Reuters)

Aug 30 2012

Teaching My Autistic Son How to be Cool

By at 4:06 pm
pokemon characters

I guess these guys are cool?

I knew as a mother, I was going to have to teach my kids things, like teach my daughter to put on makeup, or my son to ride a bike. But this? Seriously?

I am now expected to do something as a parent I never expected to do. I need to teach my 6-year-old how to be cool. (Huh, what? Can’t I teach him about sex instead? That might be simpler.)

To the outside world, Reuben is like every other 6-year-old. But we have a secret. What comes natural to other kids can take upwards of 100 hours to teach him. My son is on the Autism Spectrum. So far every issue we have faced, I have taken in stride, until now…. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 24 2012

Easy Behavioral Tips for Kids with Special Needs

By at 10:15 am
little boy pulling hair tantrum

No more tantrums.

My son Reuben is 6 years old and was diagnosed as autistic three years ago. My kid is not so different from yours; he is just an exacerbated version. Reuben gets scared of the dark (mostly when he doesn’t want to go to bed), doesn’t want to eat brussels sprouts (who does?), and smacks his sister when I’m not looking (though sometimes I think she might deserve it).

The difference is in how difficult it is get him to modify his behavior unlike your kids (although I am sure you would disagree).

Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 25 2012

Do All Our Kids Really Need to Feel Like Winners?

By at 2:54 pm

trophyOn the last day of his after-school tennis program, my 6-year-old came home with a trophy.

“Wow Zack, I’m so proud of you!” I said.

“Why? Everyone got one.” His blasé tone shifted immediately and somewhat manically to intense excitement.

“Oh yeah! Oh yeah!” Zack chanted as he pumped the trophy overhead, just like he’d seen a classmate do at his recent reading awards ceremony. Read the rest of this entry →

May 23 2012

Time-Saving Tips for Extra Busy Moms

By at 12:14 pm

pocket watches

Everyone is busy and everyone has trouble keeping up. While I don’t claim any special level of industriousness for myself, I can say that, in the phrase people often use, I have a lot on my plate.

I’m divorced, and I live in Israel, where I have no family, other than my children, to help me out with life’s occasional emergencies. My sons are 16 and 12, and my older boy was diagnosed with autism (PDD/NOS) at age 3. He goes to a number of afterschool therapy appointments every week and sometimes I fill in for his aide at school during the day. My younger son has his own afterschool activities, some of which he cannot get to on his own. I work as the movie critic for the Jerusalem Post, reviewing films, covering the Israeli movie industry, and interviewing Israeli and foreign filmmakers. Read the rest of this entry →

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