Nov 19 2012
In 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 →
Nov 7 2012
Rabbi Ilana Garber is the associate rabbi of Beth El Temple in West Hartford, Connecticut. She serves on a professional advisory committee for the Hebrew Health Care Home Health and Hospice program and as co-chair of the Rabbinical Assembly Women’s Committee. Rabbi Garber was kind enough to share her experience with work/life balance with us for our month-long series on Women, Work & Money.
Who is in your family?
I have been married for five years to a wonderful man who is a professional musician. We have two sons, a 3-year-old, Noam, and a 19-month-old, Yaron. (You can read Yaron’s story here.)
What’s your work schedule? Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 19 2012
It’s my son’s big bar mitzvah year… but Miles is a different kind of bar mitzvah boy.
Miles is a child with ADHD. You might be thinking, ahhh, another parent that says their child is ADHD. Why don’t we just add it to the list, right? That’s what we thought. We thought to ourselves it’s just a label. It’s a teacher telling us something is wrong with him just to label him because he’s wiggly, obstinate, and uncooperative at times. Well, you’re wrong. It’s real and it’s here and it’s a huge part of our life.
My husband and I were both brought up Jewish. We both went to Hebrew school. He, conservative. Me, reform. We always had the view that Miles would go to Sunday school and Hebrew school just like we did. Why wouldn’t he, right? Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 30 2012
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 →
Aug 28 2012
For New York families with special needs kids, we’ve just got word of a great Rosh Hashanah service that you might want to check out.
Congregation Rodeph Sholom on the Upper West Side is offering a Rosh Hashanah celebration for families with special needs. On Tuesday, September 18th from 11 a.m. to noon, join the Rodeph Sholom family for an interactive service open to the entire community–members and non-members, all ages welcome. There will be singing, instruments, apples and honey (and a variety of other healthy and tasty snacks), and of course, the shofar! Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 21 2012
Earlier this year, Rabbi Ilana Garber found out her 1-year-old son has a genetic disorder known as Fragile X Syndrome. She was kind enough to share about this difficult experience with us, from the day of his diagnosis to her current fight to improve prenatal testing questions.
I understand that your 18-month-old son was recently diagnosed with Fragile X syndrome. What does that diagnosis mean? How are your son’s behaviors different from other children?
Fragile X Syndrome is a genetic disorder. Unlike most genetic diseases (like Tay Sachs, for instance), with Fragile X, it’s not about two parents being carriers of a disease; instead it’s about one parent having a mutation on the X chromosome. I am a carrier of a pre-mutation of the gene (which has certain health implications for me down the road) and my son has over 200 repeats of the mutation, so he has Fragile X Syndrome (FXS). Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 24 2012
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
On 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
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 →
Apr 6 2012
Raising a child with autism comes with a lot of crap. I’m not talking about the stares from strangers, the battles with insurance companies and school boards, or even the underlying, ever-present stress of wondering what my son’s future will look like. That’s all part of it, of course. But the crap I speak of today is of the tangible, dust-collecting variety.
What can I say? Autism takes up a lot of freaking space. There are the binders of therapist-recorded data, the pendaflex folders filled with evaluations and invoices, and, of course, the endless piles of teaching materials.
From the huge dry erase board on which we draw Benjamin’s daily schedule, to the card next to the bathroom sink featuring a pictorial breakdown of the act of hand washing (water on, wash hands, water off, dry), to the playroom closet stuffed with toys and games and visuals his therapist uses during sessions, our house is pretty much blanketed with tools that help Benjamin learn to communicate, follow routines, and transition more easily.
Benjamin, 8, was diagnosed 6 years ago, so by now these items have become a natural part of the landscape of our home—a part I rarely think about them. That is, until Passover rolls around. Read the rest of this entry →