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an‛s Jonath a Dre m ge See Pa 85

December 2009

Supplement to the Jewish Press Periodical Publication

2 • Building Blocks • December 2009

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 3





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Intervention: Halachic Implications


From the Editors The Widening World of Special Needs


Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Why the NY Legislature Needs to Create a Panel of SRO’s Gary S. Mayerson


Practical Aspects of Health Care Insurance and Special Needs Gary Shulman, MS. Ed.

Page 14


Parking Permits for People with Disabilities


The Link between Gaucher’s and Parkinson’s

Juby Shapiro

Leah Rothstein


Mainstreaming and Integration


Working Memory Difficulties


How to Advocate Effectively for your Child


Rediscovering the Better Angels of Our Nature

44 46


Sara Ireland-Cooperman


Controlling the Time of Your Life


Meeting Universal Social Needs


Stephen Feldstein Ronit Zweig, PsyD

Page 48



The Unique Challenges of Caring for the Disabled

Stephen Glicksman, Ph.D.

“Doc Jon” Michnovicz


New Horizons for Independence and Community Inclusion

Page 50

The Implications of Torticollis for Sensory Processing Dana Ledereich, MA OTR/L

Choosing a Camp For Your Child with Special Needs Shlomo Kertzner


The Asperger’s Conundrum Too Smart for the Services Needed


Blima Druker

Forum and Sibs Speaks 30- Family Edited by Perel Grossman

Dealing with Delays and Behavior Issues

Joshua Weinstein, MA.Ed, MBA Page 23

Rochie Korolitzky


When There is No Jewish Program That’s Right for Your Child


Financial Planning for Persons with Special Needs Dealing With Parental Guilt

Shoni Eidlisz, LMSW

Chaya Shandel Mandel and Kalman Greenberg

When There is More than One Child with a Disability


Miriam Goldstein, Ph.D.

Kalman Greenberg

Tzivy Ross Reiter, LCSW-R


Page 41

Pnina Bravmann, Au.D.,CCC/SLP-A, TSHH, SAS, Cert AVT and Jacqueline DeGroat, M.S.Ed., Psy.D

Rabbi Mayer Waxman


An Interview with Burt Jaffa, a Founder of PTACH Yaakov Kornreich




Page 24

We Love Feedback!! For questions or comments contact us at Printed in Canada December 2009 • Building Blocks • 5




Visual Supports for Children with Disabilities Malkie Adler, MS, CCC/SLP and Linda Rosenfeld, MS, OTR/L


Protecting Your Child During Flu Season


Can Diet Help Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Tuvia Marciano


Sheryl Mayer, MS RD


Animal-Assisted Activities/Therapy


Straight Talk About Stuttering


Applied Behavior Analysis as an Intervention

Dr. Jack and Robin Muchnick

Page 62

Avigael (Stephanie) Saucier Wodinsky, PhD



Yaakov Kornreich

Uri Schneider

Page 85

88- Directory Listings

Alternative Treatments: Applying Traditional Chinese Medicine to Children with Special Needs

the Experts 66- Ask Various

Breindy Rosenblatt

Reviews 83- Book Brocha Holczer



Reviews 70- Product Chaya Ilene Klass, and

BULLETIN BOARD 106 Bulletin Board RECRUITMENT 108 Recruitment Advertising 110

Advertiser Index

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Printed in Canada Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Building Blocks Magazine or the Jewish Press. 6 • Building Blocks • December 2009

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December 2009 • Building Blocks • 7


INTRODUCTION By Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Intervention: Halachic Implications


e truly live in great times of opportunity, especially as relates to those unfortunate members of our community who suffer from disabilities, which in earlier times had no available remedies. An example is what I recently heard out of Israel. A group is working with dog trainers from the United States to train seeing eye dogs for a segment of Israeli society in dire need of such assistance. Until now, most of these dogs only “understood” commands in English. The new program trains the dogs to respond to Hebrew commands. It is both a godsend and a new lease on life for sightless Hebrew speakers by providing them with safer, sight-free movement through the assistance of these dogs. The model for understanding the potential halachic implications of interventions to improve the capabilities of people with disabilities is the evolution of the status in halacha of the cheresh, the deaf-mute, an individual who neither hears nor speaks. Here, too, there has been much progress over the past 150 years, as epitomized by the accomplishments of the legendary Helen Keller – a deaf mute

who actually learned how to speak. Before that, the general assumption in secular society was that someone who could not hear but could speak, or who had the ability to hear but was mute, was that they were unable to learn. However, that was not the attitude of the Gemara. In Tractate Chagigah 3a, an example is brought of two mute brothers who were related to RabiYochanan ben Gudgeda, and who studied Torah diligently under Rabbi Yehudah Hanassi. When the brothers were tested, they were found to have a thorough understanding of halacha, Mishna and other areas of Torah that they had been taught. This Gemara serves as a precedent, proving that the Torah tradition recognizes the potential for clinical intervention to enable those with disabilities. It also has halachic implications. The Shulchan Aruch, (Orach Chayyim 55:8) finds that a deaf person who speaks, or someone who hears but does not speak, are considered to be of normal intelligence, and can be counted as part of a minyan. However, the Shulchan Aruch rules that one who can neither hear nor speak cannot be counted to a minyan, and is in the same legal category as a child or someone

who is mentally incomWhen the brothers petent. However, opinion is were tested, they were divided among more recent halachic au- found to have a thorough thorities as to whether understanding of areas individuals who would traditionally be exclud- of the Torah that they had ed because of their disbeen taught. abilities, but who have demonstrated compeTorah authorities are clearly tence due to effective intervention, can be counted willing to make their judgments in a minyan, and otherwise be as to the competence of an indiviewed as competent adults. The vidual based upon his abilities, Tzemach Tzedek (1789-1866) not his disabilities, and to conruled that even a skilled deaf sider the possibility that an efmute tailor, who was proven ca- fective intervention could merit pable of following the daily and a significant upgrade of their Shabbat tefillot, still could not halachic status. In this way, our Torah authoribe counted to a minyan. However, his contemporary, ties have validated the value and the Ketav Sofer (1815-1871), af- importance of the work of those ter seeing first hand what could who have devoted their lives to be accomplished at a school for improving the quality of life and the deaf in Vienna, ruled that any independence of individuals deaf mute who has been taught with disabilities. May Hashem to speak or to communicate on bless all those who are engaged some level may be counted in a in this holy labor of love, whose mission is to ensure that their minyan. In recent years, this halachic is- fellow man live happier and sue has been discussed in depth more productive lives. u by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef (which will Rabbi Klass is the Torah and be the subject of a forthcoming Halacha editor of the Jewish Press. His weekly column Questions and Halacha column in The Jewish Answers will deal with this topic exPress). But for our purposes, it tensively in an upcoming issue. is important to remember that

Reader’s Feedback “I spoke in Lakewood earlier this year. . . Before the talk, a couple came over to me and asked if I was the Dr. Glicksman that wrote the article on Prader Willi in the Building Blocks supplement. I told them that I was. They said. . . that they had to come to thank me, and, by extension, Mr. Klass (publisher of Building Blocks) and Mr. Kornreich (Senior Editor) for that article. They said that they have had 8 • Building Blocks • December 2009

so much trouble in the past explaining their child’s diagnosis to friends, schools and family, but that now they just give out copies of that article. They didn’t even stay for my talk. They just got a babysitter for that half hour or so that allowed them to come together and thank me (and you) as a family.” u Via E-mail from Dr. Stephen Glicksman

“I came across the article (by Aviva Willig) in Building Blocks magazine about correct pencil grip and handwriting difficulties. I would like your permission to copy it and send it to our first grade parents so they can understand why we are asking for good pencil grips.” u Via E-mail from Nami Friedman, Assistant Principal of Yeshiva Schools, Pittsburgh, PA

Please e-mail your Reader’s Feedback to: or mail it to: Building Blocks c/o The Jewish Press, 330 Third Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11215 and it will be considered for publication in our next issue.



Introduction: The Widening World of Special Needs


uilding Blocks continues to increase the scope and diversity of topics it explores as it covers every aspect of the expanding field of Special Needs. In this issue, we delve into, for the first time, such challenging issues as alternative treatments, animal-assisted therapy, the impact of diet on special needs, families with more than one child with a disability and parental guilt. Again we offer a wealth of practical advice from the experts on how to navigate the process of qualifying your child for services, how to make the most productive use of your

time, how to set your family’s finances in order, how to choose the right summer camping program, how to maintain the general health of individuals with special needs, and how to cope when there is no ideal choice available for your child. We discuss a new finding of medical research and how it may impact our genetic screening practices, issues of concern to the special needs community in the health care reform debate, as well as inequities in the government system that jeopardize the legal rights of individuals with special needs. We explore some of the as-

pects of special needs which our community has yet to address, and the lessons and inspiration that we can draw from our daily contacts with special needs individuals. We meet a pioneer who helped to launch our community’s response to the special needs challenge, and individuals with special needs who lead, active, useful and rewarding lives. Once again, Building Blocks offers the most detailed and comprehensive listing of resources and services for special needs in the Jewish community. It features timely reviews of new books and products from a spe-

cial needs perspective, and an advertising marketplace for our community’s leading organizations and programs. Finally, Building Blocks gives voice to the inspiring personal stories and concerns of special needs individuals, care-givers and family members, in their own words, speaking personto-person, directly to you, our readers. In the pages of this issue, we are confident that you will find useful, enlightening, and even inspiring information and stories that will give you a new insight into the world of Special Needs. u From the Editors


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Are parents legal rights ? being violated

n New York, if a parent of a child with a disability is in disagreement with the school district’s proposed IEP, that parent may seek appropriate relief via an “impartial hearing.” In New York City alone, several thousand parents file for such hearings each year. What happens, however, when parents win their hearing before the “Impartial Hearing Officer (“IHO”), but the school district then takes an appeal to the Office of State Review? What are a parent’s chances when such an appeal is taken? In New York, unlike the situation in most other states, appeals taken from decisions rendered at the administrative level by “Impartial Hearing Officers” are now being decided by a single State Review Officer, Paul Kelly. This situation has created an undue concentration of adjudicatory power. Even worse, there is compelling statistical evidence that Mr. Kelly’s decision making is grossly biased in favor of school districts and against parents, even in those cases where the school district has admitted to failing to provide an appropriate educational program. Please understand, I am saying this as an attorney who has won many appeals at the SRO level and who continues to do so. Initially, the Office of State Review was founded to adjudicate appeals from the administrative determinations at the Impartial Hearing Officer (“IHO”) level because of concerns that the State Education Department had an inherent conflict of interest that disqualified it from adjudicating such appeals. For a period of years, the system seemed to work well enough. Decisions rendered by the Office of State Review were 10 • Building Blocks • December 2009

By Gary S. Mayerson

Why the NY Legislature Needs to Create a Panel of SRO’s not then decided by a single SRO, but rather were decided by a number of SRO’s on a “luck of the draw” basis, much like a litigant filing in federal court might be assigned to any one of a number of federal District Court judges and magistrates. By way of example, a litigant in the past might have had their appeal decided by SRO’s with names such as Frank Munoz,

of school districts and against parents, and whether Mr. Kelly was pressuring or intimidating subordinates in the decision rendering process. In order to probe this issue further in a more meaningful manner, my firm hired additional (law student) interns for the summer of 2009 with the idea that we would review the decisions that Mr. Kelly rendered after publica-

cases that we were able to identify as involving claims for prospective (i.e., Connors) funding, even in those cases where the student had won Connors funding relief at the IHO level, the SRO ruled against the student. This 100% track record (finding for school districts) on the part of our SRO in Connors cases speaks volumes. Based on our analysis of 187 of

Robert G. Bentley, and Joseph P. Frey. Not so today. Inexplicably, at the very same time that the number of filings for impartial hearings were perceived as going up in New York State (roughly 2004-2005), the Office of State Review’s adjudicatory power somehow was concentrated into the hands of a single individual – Paul Kelly. Very few people have actually laid eyes on Mr. Kelly. However, Mr. Kelly does appear briefly in a Channel 7 Eyewitness News investigatory report. See com/watch?v=GGt7XwADBko. In July 2007, the Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story concerning the activities of Mr. Kelly. To say the least, this investigative piece raised serious questions concerning Mr. Kelly’s lack of impartiality, whether or not Mr. Kelly was biased in favor

tion of the Wall Street Journal article when, presumably, Mr. Kelly would have been on his very best behavior. We analyzed all 187 reported decisions by Mr. Kelly from the beginning of 2008 through June 29, 2009. One hundred and two (102) of the analyzed decisions were Burlington/Carter tuition funding cases, and of those cases, nine involved a request for “prospective” (Connors) funding. See Connors v. Mills, 34 F. Supp. 2d 795 (N.D.N.Y. 1998). The federal Connors decision offers the basis for “prospective” funding relief for those parents of relatively modest financial means who simply cannot afford to bring a pure reimbursement case. Without Connors funding, many children with disabilities would simply go without. In nine out of nine reported

the SRO’s most recent reported decisions, even in non-Connors cases, the statistics would appear to indicate that: P Looking at tuition reimbursement cases in which the SRO “annulled” the IHO’s decision, 98% of those annulments were in favor of the school district, while only 2% of those annulments were in favor of the student and his or her parents; P Looking at tuition reimbursement cases in which the SRO “deferred” to the findings of the IHO, 76% of those deferrals were in favor of deferring to a decision in favor of a school district, while only 24% deferred to decision in favor of a student; P In tuition reimbursement appeals brought by the school district, the SRO overturned the IHO’s award of tuition re-


imbursement 42% of the time, while, in contrast, in only 1% of tuition reimbursement appeals brought by the student and his or her parents did the SRO overturn an IHO’s denial of tuition reimbursement; and P In 43% of tuition reimbursement appeals (involving approximately 102 cases), the SRO deferred to the IHO’s denial of tuition reimbursement, while in contrast, in only 13% of tuition reimbursement appeals did the SRO defer to an IHO’s award of tuition reimbursement. Section 279.1(c) of the Education Law mandates that the Commissioner adopt rules and regulations to ensure impartiality in the SRO appeal system. The recently departed

Commissioner, Richard Mills, apparently never fulfilled that mandate before leaving office. Now we are all paying the price. Instead of the “rule of law,� we now have the rule of a single person whose pattern of decisions on the record raise serious questions about his impartiality. Clearly, something has to give. The current situation cannot be permitted to continue. We now have a brand new Commissioner of Education, Dr. David Steiner, who recently assumed his new position following a distinguished background as Dean of the Hunter College School of Education. Hopefully, Commissioner Steiner will implement rules and regulations that will firmly restore the rule

of law and instill public confidence in the integrity of the appeal system. The very first order of business is for Commissioner Steiner to support the proposed amendment to the New York Education Law that, when enacted, will create a “panel� of SRO’s, so that appeals at this level will no longer be decided by a single individual. The proposed amendment can be found on our informational website, Parents of children with disabilities can write to their representatives in the New York Senate and Assembly to support the proposed amendment, and explain why it is simply unacceptable to have all of the decision-making authority concen-

trated into the hands of a single individual. To ensure fairness and “due process,� every accused criminal is assigned randomly to one of dozens of potential judges. Is there any reason why children with disabilities should not receive at least as much fairness and “due process�? u Gary Mayerson, a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, is the founder of Mayerson & Associates, based in Manhattan, the nation’s first law firm dedicated to representing children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Mr. Mayerson has testified before Congress, is the author of “How To Compromise With Your School District Without Compromising Your Child� (DRL Books) and can be reached through the website.

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Q & ISSUES & ANSWERS A By Gary Shulman, MS. Ed.


Practical Aspects of Health Care Insurance and Special Needs might be that the insurance company will then decide that it’s not worth the cost of the fight. However, while this strategy has worked for some parents, for others, it has only led to a continuation of the same fight, only on a different battleground. Another strategy to get the insurance company to cover a treatment cost is by proving that it is a “medical necessity.” If you can get care providers to fully document the “medical necessity” for the particular service or item, for the safety and wellbeing of the special needs child, the insurer may become more agreeable. But in other cases, even after providing the docu-

nfortunately, just having employer-provided health insurance, as important as it is, is often not enough, especially for families with special needs children. It’s important to investigate the details of the coverage and to understand what is actually covered. Some parents trying to collect on claims for services related to their children with special needs can get ping-ponged, or bounced back and forth by seemingly arbitrary rejections, putting them the insurers and the care providers. Some have suggested threatening to sue the insurance company in small claims court to pay for the item or service needed. The result

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mentation, the family might still have to file for a fair hearing before the insurance company will give in. With regard to the current effort, as part of health care reform, to restructure the current health insurance regulations, what should advocates for the special needs community do?

Past experience indicates that now is the time to organize politically, creating a broad consensus on a clear agenda of desired changes in the legislation as it affects the special needs community, both with regard to insurance regulations and other aspects of federal policies which impact the delivery of support


services to these families and individuals. When there was a threat last year on the New York State level to cut funding for services to those with developmental disabilities because of a huge state budget deficit, the various parent advocate organizations got together and stormed lawmakers in Albany. They succeeded in convincing them that it was in their political interests to maintain the funding, and find something else to cut. However, that required a concerted effort on the part of various organizations, and time is short to mount a similar effort on the national level in time to have meaningful input in the crucial details of the current health care reform bill. The thrust of the effort should be to point out to federal lawmakers that the compassionate and humanitarian approach is also the most cost effective approach to meeting the needs of families that must deal with these problems. Any legislation that increases costs to these families or makes it more difficult for them to receive the services they need, will ultimately be far more costly to the federal government because these families are already under great stress, and very fragile. These changes could wind up pushing that family over the edge; it could break up due to the added strain. The members of that family will then be forced to turn to Medicaid and other welfare services, and the special needs individual may have to be placed in an institutional setting because the family will no longer be capable of providing the necessary level of care at home. The long-term costs to

the government from that scenario would far outweigh any short term savings from reducing the current level of benefits to families on the edge below the minimum level needed to assure their continued viability. Instead, it makes economic, as well as social sense, for the government to increase the level of services to these families to help them deal with the strain, and for the system to continue to provide, what is, in many cases, the most supportive and ultimately effective environment for individuals with special needs - the family home. For those families with individuals with special needs who feel powerless and afraid because of the fundamental changes being considered for the health care system in Washington, now is the time to seek out an organization or support group which shares your concerns. They can help you to convey your fears more effectively to our elected representatives, at the time when they are making the crucial federal policy decisions on the future of care for individuals with special needs, and new requirements on the health care industry. But the time to act and make your opinion on these issues known is now. In unity there is strength. Your membership in these organizations gives them more clout to help fight for the critical interests of special needs families. u Gary Shulman, MS.Ed., is the Program Director/Training Coordinator for Resources for Children with Special Needs, Inc., 116 East 16th Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10003, He can be reached at (212) 677-4650 x20, by fax at (212) 254-4070, and by e-mail at

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718.802.1550 December 2009 • Building Blocks • 13

Q & ISSUES & ANSWERS A By Juby Shapiro

Parking Permits for People with Disabilities


s parents of special children, traveling with our special child can be a challenge. Many of our children have difficulty using public transportation and we may need to explore other options and modes of transportation. I remember when my two children with special needs were younger, what a tremendous undertaking it was getting to and from doctors appointments and general outings in the community. This can become especially tedious on alternate side of the street days when parking spots are few and far away. If I had known then what I know now about parking permits for persons with disabilities, my life would not have been quite as chaotic every time I had to take my children somewhere. In New York City there are two different types of parking permits for people with disabilities, the New York State Permit and the New York City Permit. To apply for either or both of these permits, your child will need a “Non- Drivers ID”. You can get one at your local motor vehicle office. You will need to bring acceptable proofs of your child’s identity and that they are a resident of New York State. These may include: a copy of your child’s birth certificate or passport, social security card, a document such as your child’s IEP that lists your home address. Additionally, the parent should also bring identification for his or herself, such as a driver’s license, passport or non drivers ID. To obtain an application for both New York State and New York City parking permits, call the PPPD- Parking Permits for People with Disabilities automated phone system at (718) 433-3100. Leave your name and address and which permit or permits you wish to apply for and an application will be 14 • Building Blocks • December 2009

mailed to you within two business days. You may also request that an application be faxed to you or you can obtain an application online by going to www. Letters may

is displayed. This permit is valid throughout New York City and State as well as in all 50 US states and all provinces in Canada. The permanent NY State disabilityparking permit is a blue hang-

if your child is certified by a physician as having a disability that severely affects his/her ability to walk for long distances. In accordance with the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 404A, your child must have one of the following conditions: 1. Has limited use of one or both legs. 2. Has a neuromuscular dysfunction that severely limits mobility. 3. Has another physical or mental disability that prevents him/her from getting around and makes use of public transportation difficult. 4. Is legally blind Your child’s disability must be diagnosed and described on the application by a New York State Licensed physician, medical doctor, osteopath or podiatrist (in a case where there is a bellow the ankle qualifying condition). Your physician will be asked to state on the application whether your child’s condition is temporary or permanent in nature and they must describe how your child’s condition affects his/her ability to walk.

New York City Parking Permits

be addressed to Parking Permits for People with Disabilities, New York Department of Transportation 28-11 Queens Plaza North, 7th Floor, Long Island City, New York 11101-4008.

New York State Parking Permit

The New York State parking permit allows you to park in publicly accessible spaces designated for handicapped parking in malls, shopping centers, hospitals, airports and any other off the street public parking lots where the universal handicapped parking symbol

tag. The temporary permit is a red plastic hangtag. The permit should be displayed from the inside rear view mirror of your car. It is valid until the expiration date printed on the permit. Approximately two months before it is due to expire, a renewal form will automatically be sent to you. The New York State permit may be transferred to any vehicle that is transporting your child and is not linked to a particular license plate. You are eligible to obtain a New York State parking permit for your child with special needs

The New York City Disability Parking Permit allows you to park at most curbsides on New York City streets including: • Parking on the wrong side of the street during alternate street cleaning days. • Free Parking at meters- no coins needed. • Parking in all “No Parking Zones” except those marked as taxi stands. • Parking at “No Parking” and “No Standing” spaces authorized for schools, doctors, press, diplomats, and government agencies.

Places you may not park with the permit include:

• All public Bus stops • Fire hydrants


• “No Standing Zones” that are not for doctors, press, schools and diplomats. • Cross walks

The New York City permit is only valid for parking in the five boroughs of New York City.

You are eligible to obtain a New York City permit for your child with special needs if you need to transport your child in and around the city in your own vehicle. This permit is geared for those who would find public transportation a great hardship due to the nature and severity of their disability. To qualify for the permit, your child must be seen by certified by an approved News York City Health and Hospitals physician or other physician approved by the De-

partment of Health and found to have a disability that severely and permanently impairs mobility. The PPPD office will have a list of hospitals and physicians who are approved in each borough. You will need to schedule an appointment for your child. On the day of the appointment, make sure to bring any relevant medical reports that document your child’s condition and how it affects their mobility. To apply for the New York City parking permit, fill out an application and have your child’s pediatrician complete the medical history page. You will then mail two photos of your child with copies of the registration of the vehicle or vehicles you wish to have listed on the permit. Unlike the New York State permit which



may be used in any vehicle, the New York City permit is a placard that must be displayed on the interior driver’s side dashboard of your car and must list the license of any of the cars you place it in. A permit may have up to 10 licenses and registrations attached to it but only one permit is given for an individual. Additionally, in the event that the permit is needed in another vehicle temporarily, you can call the PPPD office and obtain a temporary authorization for that vehicle for up to two weeks. The PPPD will review the application and soon after you will be given an appointment with their physician to determine your child’s eligibility for the permit. If your child is approved, the permit will be issued within five busi-

ness days. The permit is valid until the expiration date listed on the placard. Two months before your child’s permit is due to expire you will be contacted by the PPPD and asked if you want to renew the permit. New York City parking permits are automatically renewed unless in a few cases where a DOH physician requires a follow up exam or letter from your child’s physician that your child’s condition has not improved. u

Juby Shapiro is a special education advocate and is the founder and director of TAFKID a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping families whose children have a variety of disabilities and special needs. TAFKID’s phone number is (718) 252-2236 or via e-mail at She is also an advisor to Building Blocks Magazine.


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Q & ISSUES & ANSWERS A By Leah Rothstein


Will the Link Between Gaucher’s and Parkinson’s Lead to More Genetic Screening?

mong Ashkenazi Jews, the most common genetic disorder is Gaucher’s Disease (pronounced go-SHAY). Carriers occur in 1 out of every 14 people, which is a higher frequency than better-known genetic disorders, like Tay-Sachs and cystic fibrosis. Gaucher’s Disease comes in three forms, the most common of which, type one, can be very mild or even so asymptomatic that people may not even be aware that they have it. This is the most widespread form among Ashkenazi Jews, and occurs in 1 out of 450 people. Symptoms can include an enlarged liver and spleen, low blood platelet count, anemia,

and skeletal problems, which cause frequent bone fractures, as well as fatigue and depression. Type two and type three are far less common. They are also the most severe forms of Gaucher’s, occurring across various ethnic groups and resulting in severe neurological effects. Onset of type two takes place in children under the age of two, resulting in impaired development and death before the age of four. Type three is usually diagnosed later in childhood, and manifests with slowly progressive mental deterioration, seizures, and other neurological problems. Individuals with type three may live into their thirties

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or forties. The disease is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. That means that if both parents in a couple are carriers, any child born to them will have a 25% chance of having the disease, and a 50% chance of being a carrier (someone who has the disease’s recessive gene, but not the disease). If one parent in the couple is a carrier and the other parent is not, none of their children will have the disease, but any child born to them will have a 25% chance of being a carrier. Genetic screening determines the risk that a child born to a given couple will have the disease, by ascertaining whether the parents are carriers. Gaucher’s is treatable. Enzyme replacement therapy is the most effective option, but it can cost up to $200,000 annually. Other options include more specific treatments targeted at symptoms, such as blood transfusions, calcium supplements, joint replacement surgery or bone marrow transplants.

Testing for Gaucher’s is generally covered by health insurance policies, and the social stigma attached in our community to a family that has been identified with a genetic disorder is no longer as strong as it once was. However, since the odds of inheriting a severe form of Gaucher’s disease are fairly low, and because, unlike some other genetic disorders, the disease is treatable, some genetic disease organizations do not recommend that everyone be tested for Gaucher’s. This policy represents one side in an ongoing debate over whether universal testing of the general population for the presence of gene for Gaucher’s is helpful or harmful. Currently, genetic testing to determine an individual’s carrier status cannot accurately predict the type or severity of possible instances of the disease in future generations. Even if an individual is a carrier, and their descendant gets the disease, the odds are high that it will be a milder form.


Therefore, opponents of universal screening argue, detecting the gene in advance turns out to be entirely unnecessary in the majority of cases. The position of Dor Yeshorim, the well-known institution dedicated to reducing the incidence of genetic diseases common among Ashkenazi Jews, is to offer testing for Gaucher’s by request only. But the situation is different for someone with a known instance of Gaucher’s in their family. “If someone has Gaucher’s disease in their family, we encourage people to get everyone in the family tested,” says Rhonda Buyers, Executive Director of the National Gaucher’s Foundation. “Gaucher’s disease has the

highest percentage among Ashkenazi Jews, and it affects the person financially and psychologically. It’s hard to deal with a chronic illness.” Complicating the question further is the evidence suggesting that mutations of a specific gene called GBA, which has previously been identified as the genetic cause of Gaucher’s, may also be a factor in Parkinson’s disease. A groundbreaking recent study conducted by an international collaboration of scientists uncovered the genetic link between the two diseases, which explains why the odds that Gaucher’s patients will also get Parkinson’s disease are five times as high as those for the

general population. The study showed that individuals with no symptoms of Gaucher’s, but who have a family history of the disorder and who have inherited the mutations of the GBA gene, also have elevated odds of getting Parkinson’s. They also tend to suffer the onset of Parkinson’s at a much younger age than Parkinson’s patients without the mutations. According to Ellen Sidransky, of the National Human Genome Research Institute, the presence of the Gaucher’s mutation is the factor which most reliably indicates that a person is at high risk to get Parkinson’s. The study results would indicate that it might be more important than was previously thought to test

for Gaucher’s. Since Gaucher’s carrier status is so prevalent among Ashkenazi Jews, this provides another argument in favor of universal Gaucher screening for that population -- to identify those who have the highest risk for Parkinson’s. This conclusion might also cause some Jewish organizations to reconsider their current position on universal Gaucher’s screening. In the meantime, further research is being undertaken that will continue to expand scientific understanding of the genetic implications of Gaucher’s disease, and its suspected links to other diseases. u Leah Rothstein lives in Elizabeth New Jersey and is a regular contributor to the Jewish Press.


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FAMILY By Tzivy Ross Reiter, LCSW-R


Challenges and Blessings: When There is More than One Child with a Disability

aring for one child with a disability can create extraordinary stress for families. Caring for two or more children with disabilities can create challenges that may seem overwhelming. Mrs. L. shared her story. “My first child did not have developmental disabilities. My 2nd child did not develop in the normal way that my first child did, but my doctor kept telling me not to compare my children. Yet I knew she was different. At 18 months, she was diagnosed with autism. “My 3rd child did not eat right, choked on his own food, developed some speech but then lost it. He was evaluated at 4 months. The professionals took me more seriously this time because he already had a sibling with autism. He received Early Intervention but wasn’t officially diagnosed with autism until 15 months. “By the time he was diagnosed with autism, I was already expecting my 4th child. I was consumed with fear my entire pregnancy, that something would be wrong with this child as well. This fear and anxiety created a lot of distance between my husband and I. At 12 months, my 4th child was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. “My life completely changed with each child’s diagnosis. When this happens, your dreams for your child die. You have to live for the moment. Ultimately, you have to create new and different dreams for your child and for yourself.”

Special Issues for Families

There are many agencies that find themselves serving families who have more than one child diagnosed with a disabil18 • Building Blocks • December 2009

ity. These families have unique needs that must be acknowledged and addressed including:

Extraordinary financial and emotional stress

The financial cost of special therapies, equipment, education and services of multiple children with disabilities can be overwhelming. The coordination of all of these services can be just as stressful. Mrs. B describes her experiences in the following way: “It’s hard to balance yourself. This child needs something; that child needs something else, where do you begin? You have to deal with multiple service systems, different administra-

that their respective caregivers are aware of the differences. “There is a lot of guilt involved, child, because each child needs so much. Sometimes you feel like you just want to shut down.”

Relationship and family stress

“When my children were diagnosed, I mobilized and went into fix-it mode. My husband was devastated and withdrew. We had different coping styles, which made it difficult for us to support each other. Other family members, attempting to be helpful, would repeat all the negative stories about autism they ever heard. “There was some very pain-

disagree about whether or not to have more children. The findings of genetic counseling can sometimes produce more stress on the family.

Mourning the loss of dreams

Mrs. W. has 2 children with developmental disabilities. She mourns the family that she always dreamed of. “It is definitely a loss. You have to come to terms with what you will never have, and come to accept and embrace what you have been given. It is a process. “This is not something you would have chosen. You have to give yourself permission to grieve.”

Intrusion by others

Due to the public knowledge of their situation, parents of multiple children with disabilities can at times be subject to the inquisitive or hurtful comments of others. When her 2nd child was diagnosed with a disability, a family member told Mrs. W., “I told you that you shouldn’t have gotten those vaccines.”

Social isolation

tors, different therapists, different bus schedules, etc. Sometimes treatment or IEP meetings are scheduled at the same time at 2 different places, so you have to choose. “Even something as basic as keeping track of their specific dietary needs can be overwhelming. One child can have milk and not wheat, and for another child it is the other way around. On top of keeping it straight for yourself, you have to make sure

ful discussion about ‘whose side caused it’ after our 2nd child was diagnosed. We had genetic testing done. They didn’t find anything; there was no family history of it. We then tried to move away from the topic, because it just wasn’t productive for anyone.” Family stress can be compounded if one partner feels that the caregiving responsibilities fall disproportionately to him/her, or if the partners

Friends who are not in this situation don’t always know what to say or do to be helpful, and may at times even avoid contact with the family. The feelings of loneliness that can develop are compounded by the sense that no one around them truly “gets it.” Even families that have one child with a disability can’t begin to understand their life. As one mother put it, “There are people who have one child with a disability who might suggest, ‘you should try this approach or that treatment.’ They don’t understand that with 3 kids, you just can’t do all that. You can’t even afford all those things.”


Other concerns

Parents of multiple children with disabilities may harbor secret feelings of shame or inadequacy. Mrs. W. admits, “You feel like you are damaged goods because you can’t even produce a healthy child.” They may experience periods of anxiety and depression, which require professional assistance. If parents also have typically developing children, they may feel great anxiety that their shidduch prospects may be affected by the diagnosis of their siblings.

Accepting the gift

Many parents acknowledged an ongoing struggle in focusing on the positive aspects of their situation, and the gift in the children that they have been given. “I have learned so much from my children: to have patience, to slow down and find the joy in the moment. My children have taught me to be sensitive to people who are different, but no less feeling, than we are.” Mrs. W. agreed: “I did not choose this, it chose me. But I was chosen for a reason. I would not be the person I am today if I was not the mother to these children. They have truly made me into a better person. I would not have known that I could even be that person if not for them.” While she still admits to painful periods, especially “at milestone events like starting a new school year or thinking about an upcoming bar mitzvah, I do feel that I was uniquely chosen to nurture my children and bring out their potential. They have disabilities, but they can accomplish, they can contribute, and I am helping them do that.” Ultimately, despite the challenges of caring for multiple children with disabilities, most

parents are able to accept their children for who they are and create a new and still rewarding vision of their family life.

How agencies and community members can help

Try to connect families who have more than one child with a disability with other families like them. Mrs. L. notes, “The rest of the family needs so much help. Service agencies tend to emphasize the needs of the individual, but they must recognize how this affects the rest of the family as well.” Try to create programs for parents, fathers, grandparents and siblings. Fathers in particular would benefit from more support because their needs are often overlooked. If you strengthen the father, it helps to strengthen the marriage and the entire family unit. Advocate aggressively for them and access as many services as you can on their behalf Give as much respite as possible. As one parent put it, “Just getting out of the house is an impossibility. Finding appropriate babysitting for one special needs child is difficult, and for more than one special needs child it’s just plain impossible.” Try to anticipate needs and help them plan accordingly. Arranging babysitting, either through a volunteer or respite provider can make all the difference in parents of multiple children being able to attend supportive events or programs. Be flexible, and make exceptions to policy, when possible, when working with families who have multiple children with disabilities. One agency conducting the psychological evaluation for such a family to help their children become eligible for services agreed to make a

house visit rather than requiring that the children be brought into the office. Resist the urge to rescue them or take over. Empower the family to make choices that affect their own lives. Try to find the common ground. Mrs. L. believes that “If I had 3 typical children and only 1 child with disabilities, my life would be so much easier. But this is what I was given. When I see other families who struggle with only one child with a disability, I think that my issues with my 3 kids can be as big for someone who has only 1. I try not to be judgmental, and I wouldn’t want people to be that way toward me.” Mrs. W. shares: “I would want people be open, and not make

assumptions about me or my family. I may have a lot of challenges, but there are also blessings in my life.” A life that looks different, feels different and is lived differently than many friends and neighbors, yet is still a life filled with meaning, joy and accomplishment. u Tzivy Ross Reiter, LCSW-R, has written extensively about issues related to mental health and developmental disabilities. She is Assistant Director at Ohel Bais Ezra. She is also an advisor to Building Blocks Magazine. OHEL Bais Ezra is a division of OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services. From the early to senior years, OHEL Bais Ezra provides a range of residential and community-based habilitation services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. For more information, please call 1800-603-OHEL or visit


  

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     

  

IVDU is a project of Yachad, an agency of the Orthodox Union

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 19

FAMILY By Sara Ireland-Cooperman


Financial Planning Considerations for Persons with Special Needs

1 years old. A significant age mostly associated with a legally mandated maturity level or a milestone of adulthood. However, for parents of a child with special needs, 21 is an age that is the source of much apprehension and uncertainty. Chances are, for the first 20 years of their child’s life, parents have been taking advantage of federal and state laws and programs that provide services for their child with special needs. The age of 21, oftentimes being a legal cutoff age for educational support for the special needs community, leads parents to wonder, “What will happen to my child when I die?”“How will I maintain my child’s financial stability?” or “How will I ensure my child’s needs are met when I am no longer the primary care giver?” Ideally, parents of children with special needs should start considering these problems long before their child’s 21st birthday, because it is never too early to begin the complex process of financial planning. The best advice to parents is to become knowledgeable in all the options and choices that could benefit their child. There are organizations and foundations, such as Ohel and MetDESK, MetLife’s division of estate planning for children with special needs, which specifically address these concerns, and help parents make the difficult decisions needed to ensure their child’s smooth transition into adulthood.

Supplement Needs Trust (SNT)

One of the favorite legal tools for such financial planning is the Supplement Needs Trust (SNT), sometimes called a Special 20 • Building Blocks • December 2009

Needs Trust. It is a legally binding document that enables a person with a physical or mental disability, or an individual with a chronic or acquired illness, to have, held in Trust for his or her benefit, an unlimited amount

for the special needs of a disabled beneficiary or his future lifestyle and consider the establishment of an SNT. As with every trust, there are complex considerations and legal details involved in the set-

into a pooled trust, parents, grandparents, or even the individual with a disability. The trust pools the funds set aside for many beneficiaries to invest and manage, though each beneficiary still has his or her own discreet account. A major advantage of pooled trusts is that they give people of modest income access to sophisticated trust services. The nonprofit agency that establishes the trust makes the investment decisions and serves as trustee. Any money left in the trust after the beneficiary dies, stays in the trust to help other persons with disabilities. Before the pooled trust is set up, those who will contribute to it will designate who should be consulted to decide what the trust will be used to pay for.


of assets. An SNT provides for supplemental care above that which the government provides, which can include eye glasses, medical check-ups, transportation or purchasing a vehicle, education, insurance, home maintenance and rehabilitation. An SNT can stand on its own, or it may be part of a Last Will and Testament. Even a wealthy family, that would otherwise not be concerned with governmental benefits, should be aware that other types of financial arrangements may not be sufficient to provide

ting up of an SNT that should be discussed with an accountant, financial planner and/or lawyer with prior experience with SNT’s. Factors that should be taken into account include the age of the parents, the state of their health and the size of their estate.

Pooled Special Needs Trust

A subcategory of SNT is a Pooled Special Needs Trust, which has to be established through a non-profit organization. Anyone can put money

Just like for a parent of any child, guardianship is another crucial issue that should be considered carefully by parents of a child with special needs. Guardianship grants a designated adult legal power to make decisions for another person, who is considered incapable of making decisions for himself. General guardianship provides the guardian full decision-making powers and autonomy in matters of finance, residence and health. Limited guardianship, as the name implies, defines specific areas in which the guardian is empowered to make decisions on behalf of the beneficiary. This type of guardianship strengthens the independence of an adult with developmental disabilities by giving the guardian power only over those activities that the individual is unable to


perform on his own. When setting up a guardianship for their child, parents should also draft a letter of intent. Even though it is not legally binding, a letter of intent provides direction from the parent for the guardian of the child as to their specific wishes and expectations for their child’s future. The letter should also include details of the child’s medical history, daily habits and routines, including housing and services -- any information that might help the guardian take care of the child’s needs. There is an alternative to guardianship for a child who only needs help managing his money. He may be eligible for help through the Supplemental

Security Income program (SSI), which offers benefits to a child with disabilities from the Federal government. An SSI Representative Payee can be designated to receive and disburse SSI funds on the child’s behalf. The Representative Payee is required to submit an annual accounting to the Social Security Administration on how the SSI funds were used. Making the proper financial arrangements to secure the future of a child with special needs is a difficult and complex task. Parents who recognize its importance should consult experts with experience using the various legal and financial tools that are available to help them make appropriate plans for their

child’s future. As MetDESK states in its mission statement: “In planning for the future of your child or dependent, remember that you are the primary expert, but you may also need to turn to a number of other experts for assistance… though many of these issues can seem overwhelming, it is important you take the time with

those experts today to provide for your child’s tomorrow.” u

Sara Ireland-Cooperman is trained as an ABA therapist by the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism. She began working with youths with special needs as a teenage volunteer for YACHAD / National Jewish Council for Disabilities and has continued that involvement as a YACHAD coordinator. She is also a freelance writer for The Jewish Press.

For More Information… Sources: special-needs-planning.html#overview

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 21

FAMILY By Stephen Feldstein

Dealing With Parental Guilt


uilt is a means by which we may motivate or punish ourselves for what we may have done, think or feel. There are other ways of doing this, but the use of guilt for this purpose is traditional, especially in the Jewish culture. Often, the mother who discovers that she has a developmentally disabled child, subjects herself to large doses of guilt as a punishment and perhaps as motivation to overcome the difficult odds against successfully raising the child. People who heap large doses of guilt upon themselves were usually raised by demanding parents and feel a strong desire to do the, “right thing.” There is another consideration in this situation. By definition, there is a limit to how far a child with developmental disabilities will progress during their lifetime. The child’s abilities and skills will peak at a very young mental and emotional age, and will remain at that level throughout their adult life. That means that the parent, especially (stay at home) mothers, remain in the same relationship with the adult child that they had when the child was much younger. The mother cannot discontinue her parental role. Guilt is taught to children, by their parents, in order to instill in them self-control skills. Most children have begun to develop an internal sense of guilt by the time they are seven years old. The process is usually complete by age 22. The child who does not have a fully developed sense of guilt must get it from a parent, who remains responsible for the behavior and consequences of the child. The parent must also experience, sympathetically, the emotions, for the child. Living for another human being is 22 • Building Blocks • December 2009

a big burden to carry over a period of many years. Normally, the relationship between a parent and their child evolves. As the child matures and learns self control and self

direction, the parent gradually allows the child to take control and responsibility for himself. The parent can still provide empathy through listening, comfort, compassion and understanding, but does not have to live through the trials and tribulations of the child’s everyday life. But the parent of a person with developmental disabilities remains trapped in a relationship with their child that will not evolve over time. Anyone trying to help a parent, who is a primary caregiver for their child with developmental disabilities, must understand that the relationship between that parent and child may be very delicate, and that the utmost caution is necessary. The parent may be weighed down by a tremendous feeling of guilt, which they do not deserve, but which they cannot escape. Many parents in this situation accept the guilt as part of, “My life that I have no choice about.” Some may perceive their guilt as a burden or as a punishment, though few would openly admit it. Some parents deliberately isolate themselves with

their child to avoid the fear, embarrassment, shame, self-blame and helplessness they may experience after carrying their guilt for so long. Parents with a strong sense of responsibility and guilt may blame themselves for some or all of the failures involved in the life of a child with developmental disabilities. Some may even cling to the unrealistic notion that one day the child will simply, “Snap out of it.” Clinical professionals seeking to help such a parent should remember that any guilt they bear would take a long time to ease, if ever. Parents who isolate themselves and do not seek early help will eventually need to go back and undergo a painful re-examination of their relationship with their child, and their notions about themselves. False hopes may have to be confronted. Demanding parental attitudes may have to be adjusted. The guilt may never fully go away, but some of it may be converted into a positive motivating force. The parent must be encouraged to undertake the hard and emotionally challenging task of appreciating the accomplishments that are possible in their long-term relationship with their child and their professional helper. If the child has been placed in a residential group home and the parent’s contact with their child is now in the role of a visitor, their relationship is very different. That relationship must be mediated through the group home aide, who must deal with sensitivity with the parent and

what may be perceived as their over-indulgence or lack of involvement. The aide must keep in mind that the parent still feels an unending sense responsibility for the behavior and consequences of their child, even though he is no longer living at home. The aide must be willing to listen and empathize with the parent’s pain and guilt, and appreciate what the parent must be feeling with regard to their child, including bittersweet memories and unresolved issues. If the group home aide believes there is a harmful relationship between the parent and child, then it must be referred to clinical professionals. Rather than feeling sorry for the parent, the aide should try to understand what it would be like to experience the issues of being a lifelong parent of a child with developmental disabilities. No matter what the circumstances, the parent feels the natural obligation to provide, first, what the child needs to survive, then to thrive, and then finally to achieve independence, reach their goals in life, and finally to give back. When their child’s disabilities prevent these functions from being fulfilled, and their goals go unrealized, the parent must deal with the guilt created by these failures. Helping the parent to carry such a burden is surely an important mitzvah. u Mr. Feldstein began his career as a school psychologist. He has provided inpatient psychiatric services, worked in psychiatric clinics and managed residential care services for adolescents. Since 1996, he has worked as a psychologist for people with developmental disabilities. He grew up with a developmentally disabled sibling and served as a foster parent for severely disturbed children. He is currently the Director of Mishkon ICF, as well as the Mishkon psychologist. He can be reached at 718 851-7100 ext 212.

FAMILY By Ronit Zweig, PsyD

Controlling the Time of Your Life


wenty-four hours in a day. Seven days in a week. No matter where you live in the world, that we can all agree upon. How efficiently we use our time, is another story. As adults whether single, married, divorced, with or without kids, aging or young parents, household help or not, we all have responsibilities to juggle. I often begin my Time-Management seminars by asking the participants to fill out a typical weekly schedule. Invariably, I get the question, “should we write in what we want to happen or what really happens”? That is exactly my point. Successful companies are very good at two things: the ability to clearly define the requirements of each task and to manage them in a timely manner. A productive CEO can appropriately balance their own needs with the goals of the company. Specifically, they know when to handle a situation themselves, and when and to whom to delegate. In a family - the most important business of all - the adult(s), is/are the CEO. The employees are the children, extended family, friends, professionals, teachers, community, etc. to whom tasks can and should be delegated. While we may be saying aloud, “I need help,” often inside we fear that if someone else does the task, it won’t be done “right.” So instead of delegating to an appropriate resource, we sabotage the help with perfectionist tendencies. Know this: there is no agreed-upon perfect “anything,” and there are no extra points for being a martyr. Take, for example, the evening routine. Have kids who get hysterical when it comes time for bath, pajamas, and brushing their teeth? Instead of picking out their pajamas for them so they match perfectly, or insisting that they must bathe first, brush their top teeth first, etc., why not engage them in the de-

cision making process? Offer the child the closed ended option of “do you want to brush your teeth first, or take a bath first?” Avoid the opened ended option of, “what do you want to do first?” The question will almost never elicit as a response any of the things you need them to do. Not only does the closed ended option work better, you’ll be amazed at how much easier

it is when the child feels that they are in control. This sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised at how many parents cringe when the child chooses mismatched pajamas, brushes their teeth in some random order, or washes their toes first. It is important to remember the bigger picture, that what needs to get done, is getting done. Morning Routine: Instead of continuously shouting out the remaining minutes for your child until “T-minus-zero,” put a kitchen timer in their room. Let them watch the minutes tick down for themselves. Very soon they will develop an internal understanding for just how long it takes them to put on their socks. Result? Much less yelling on your part, and more time to devote to other tasks at hand. Another key issue in managing time is recognizing what we can and cannot control. Height, eye color, developmental disabilities, aging parents, and

natural disasters, are some of the things we cannot control. The time we spend complaining about or avoiding them, we can control. Instead of biding our time in the doctor’s waiting room, or on-line for coffee, complaining to someone on the phone about how long it is taking, (all things you cannot control), try to use that time productively - return phone calls, pay bills, do paperwork, or help your kids with their homework (things you can control). As a psychologist, I am a proponent of sharing and “getting things off your chest.” However, if you seem to spend hours on the phone rehashing to anyone who might listen, about the things you can’t control, or if your habits of eating, sleeping, playing computer games, or reading seem to take up a lot more time than they do “for most people,” perhaps you are using them as excuses to avoid attending to the more annoying, frustrating, never-ending other tasks that you have more control over. You’re just postponing the inevitable, and now you have less time to do it! Of course, the more responsibilities you have, the more important it is to manage your time as efficiently as possible, and nobody has more household responsibilities than a caregiver. But perhaps even more important than our role of caregiver to others, is our role of caregiver to ourselves. What rock can be depended upon if it is breaking at its core? Taking care of your own needs is crucial to the role of caregiver. While an individual’s situation may afford more or less time, everyone must make the time to rejuvenate. In fact, I suggest you put it on the calen-

dar. The same way we schedule doctor’s appointments, school meetings, special occasions, and other “important” events, so too we need to schedule time for ourselves. If you can’t get out for a manicure, take a few minutes to give yourself one. If you can’t find the time to finish a book in one sitting, set time aside to read ten pages a night. Make one night a week take-out night, and give your chef’s hat a rest. Listen carefully: this is NOT selfish. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re on an airplane, pay attention to the safety instructions they give you about putting on the oxygen masks in case of an emergency: “If you are sitting next to a child, place YOUR MASK ON FIRST, then assist the child.” After learning my techniques, participants are encouraged to spend one week recording their actual time on tasks at twenty minute intervals from the time they open their eyes in the morning to the time they close their eyes at night. This will quickly show you how your life runs in “real” time. Most often people discover one of two things: how much time they have been wasting or how much they underestimated the actual time their tasks require. Making the requisite adjustments by delegating, prioritizing, and focusing on the things in your life that you can control help you to live your life in a timely manner. u Dr. Ronit Zweig is a CognitiveBehavioral Psychologist in private practice in Brooklyn. She is also a Professional Organizer who tailors home and office systems for individuals, families, and companies. She offers workshops and lecture series on a variety of psychological and organizing topics. She can be contacted at: or via her website, www.theoRganZingdoc. com. Her services are also available through a grant by the JBFCS. Interested families can contact Suri Peretz, at 718-854-0454 ext.212. December 2009 • Building Blocks • 23

FAMILY By Blima Druker

Meeting Universal Social Needs


veryone has social needs, which are learned, and as we grow, those needs increase and change. To fulfill these social needs, a person needs to have social skills. These skills include communication, problem-solving, decision making, self-management, and peer relationship abilities, which allow us to initiate and maintain positive social relationships with others. Being liked, feeling accepted and having self-confidence are all related to an individual’s social skills. Deficits or excesses in social behavior can interfere with learning and teaching. Social competence is linked to peer acceptance, teacher acceptance, inclusion and post school success, like maintaining a job, social relationships and a marriage. Social skills learning starts when a toddler is taught to say “please and thank you,” and continues into adulthood as we try to master the social graces in courtship rituals, board room etiquette etc. Some children never learn appropriate be-

havior in social settings, or the proper way to interact with others. Perhaps their parents did not teach them, or maybe they

were witnesses to the wrong social values and behaviors. Even if they were given the proper role models to emulate, there

are some children who don’t or can’t pick up social cues as readily as others. For individuals with disabilities, learning how to fulfill their social needs is crucial. In today’s society, both Jewish and nonJewish alike, we are judged as people by our social skills abilities. Social cues given off by others can be misread and in social scenarios there is no do-over. The old saying, “you only have one chance to make a first impression” still holds true. If learning social skills was given more of an emphasis, these individuals would see greater successes. If we can provide individuals with disabilities with the relevant social skill instruction that will engender positive daily routines, by making socializing and interactions fun, individuals will be more inclined to want to socialize. This will help “typical” peers and professionals become more understanding, accepting, and engaging of those with social difficulties. Social skills are everywhere; they are needed to get along

Theoretical Underpinnings A social need is an innate need for interaction and communication with others. Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist, in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation,” defined a five-level hierarchy of basic needs that has influenced many different fields, including education. The basic needs are: Physiological Needs – Are biologically based and consist of the need for oxygen, food, and water. Safety Needs - When all physiological needs are satisfied and are no longer controlling thoughts and behaviours, the needs for security can become active. Both children and adults 24 • Building Blocks • December 2009

display signs of insecurity and the need to be safe. Needs of Love, Affection and Belongingness - When the needs for safety and for physiological well-being are satisfied, the next class of needs are for love, affection and belongingness. Here is where our social needs and desires start to take shape. Belongingness is a function of successful relationships, whether with a friend, teacher, parent, employer or spouse. These relationships require both giving and receiving in order to be called successful. Needs for Esteem - When the first three classes of needs are satisfied, the needs for esteem

can become dominant. These involve needs for both self-esteem and for the esteem a person gets from others, thereby building on our basic relationships. When these needs are satisfied, the person feels selfconfident and valuable. When these needs are frustrated, the person feels inferior, weak, helpless and worthless. Needs for Self-Actualization - When all four lower levels of need are satisfied, the need for self-actualization is activated. Maslow describes self-actualization as a person’s need to fulfil their higher mission in life. For example, a musician must make music, an artist must

paint, and a poet must write. Beyond this basic hierarchy, higher levels of needs include the need for understanding, aesthetic appreciation and spiritual needs. Maslow believes that the only reason why people would not move up the hierarchy of needs toward self-actualization is hindrances placed in their way by society. All individuals, child or adult, with or without a disability, share these same basic needs that must be met in order to feel dignified and accomplished, and to cause others to view them as respectable, capable, trustworthy and competent. …Druker


with others, make friends, develop a positive disposition and a pleasant personality, the attainment of which are life long endeavors for most people. The most difficult part of mastering social skills is understanding, following and remembering the rules of social interaction that exist in most situations. This basic understanding is all part of fitting in, and equally applicable to all members of society. The key to success in teaching social skills is a natural setting. As a child I remember feeling awkward learning numbers from a workbook; why not learn them on a phone or on a calculator where numbers will be used? It is most effective to teach

social skills as actual situations arise. For example, school would be the perfect place to teach children social skills like following directions, developing friendships and problem solving. For individuals with disabilities, learning is always a challenge; therefore learning social skills in natural settings will make them more concrete and attainable. Practice is another way to increase confidence in the mastery of social skills, which is doubly important, because individuals with disabilities are constantly second guessing themselves, especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships. With practice, they will develop a greater degree of confidence

in a variety of social situations, and when people become more comfortable with whom they are, they will naturally be more themselves. This concept is the basis of effective interpersonal communication — just be yourself and feel perfectly at ease with who you are and what you bring to a conversation. This is what we are trying to achieve - the essence of a natural relationship, hence meeting a natural social need. If we professionals and nonprofessionals alike were more in tune to the fulfillment of social needs for individuals with disabilities they would see tremendous benefit from our actions. So whether we are in the

school hallway, shopping in a local dress shop, at a barber, or a place of employment and even acting as a shadchan, it is up to us to recognize the importance of fulfilling these social needs. On a small level we can play a part in making someone feel more confident and fulfilled, thereby promoting a true sense of belonging and the feeling that one is a valued member of society. u

Blima Druker is an Area Coordinator for HASC Center. Her mission is to enhance the life opportunities of the individuals she works with. She believes every individual with a disability should be regarded as a productive and valued member of society. She can be reached at 718-535-1993 or at She is also an advisor to Building Blocks magazine.

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December 2009 • Building Blocks • 25

FAMILY By Rochie Korolitzky


New Horizons for Independence and Community Inclusion

oday people with special needs are spending more time in their neighborhoods and communities than ever before. In the past they attended their own schools, lived in separate residences, and worked in isolated environments. Today, many have been mainstreamed into our community schools; live at home as part of their community, and hold job in standard work environments. Their outlook has drastically improved and, regardless of their age, diagnosis, background or level of ability, individuals with special needs have their own personal hopes, dreams and aspirations, and it is our duty to help them to achieve them. Armed with the right tools and necessary skills, adults with special needs

can be very productive in their day to day lives. Work is one of life’s vital activities. Creating employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities gives them the chance to apply their skills, earn a salary and receive appreciation and recognition for a job well done. The steps necessary to ensure that these adults enjoy success in the workplace include assessing their talents, interests and capabilities, and working with their strengths. In addition, they must to be taught the specialized skills needed in the field in which they will be seeking employment. This is part of my responsibility as a director of a Day Habilitation Center for women with special needs. My professional

colleagues and I also work to support more inclusion and independence for these women, while simultaneously making certain that they remain safe. The key to our success is making sure that these women are constantly offered opportunities to continue to learn and grow, so that they may lead more vibrant and productive lives. We offer “secretary in training” activities for those women who are interested in eventually entering a training program for office work. Their activities include answering office phones, filing documents, making copies, and using various kinds of office supplies and equipment. This prepares them for referral to a dedicated vocational training program and, eventually,

gainful employment. We also teach them a variety of self-help subjects, such as maintaining proper personal hygiene and anger management, which they need in order to function well in a communal work environment. We even discuss current events and give them other relevant information on events happening in the world so they can better participate in “water cooler” conversations and otherwise socialize with their fellow workers. In addition to pre-vocational skills, we provide these women, who, professionally, we refer to as “consumers,” with important life skills that maximize their self-sufficiency. We all strive for purpose and meaning in our lives; we all want to feel important and needed.

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FAMILY We encourage our consumers to get involved in volunteer activities, which enable them to feel productive and good about themselves. Those with good reading skills can volunteer to read stories to children in a doctor’s office. Those who have good cooking skills can help prepare lunches in a school. Some members of our program enjoy going to a nursing home where they help by wheeling the patients into the cafeteria, feeding them, and singing with them. It is hard to tell who enjoys it more, the nursing home patients who love the attention and company, or our consumers, who are made to feel important and genuinely needed. One of our talented ladies is known as “Morah Pnina” at the school where she works as a part-time assistant teacher. Pnina loves to aid the teacher in

all aspects of classroom activity, and the children love her. Each individual has her own goals, dreams and aspirations, and it is our goal to help these women to achieve them. We teach them daily living skills, such as how to travel independently, that may help them someday to function better in the work place, but the greatest gifts we can give them are the tools they need now to be more independent and to help themselves. Some of our program participants are given the opportunity to set up and choose the activities in their own personal daily or weekly schedules which give them the most satisfaction. Some are enrolled in a budget cooking class where they go through the entire process. They start by choosing a healthy recipe for themselves. They then shop for it, keeping

within a budget, cook their own lunch, set the table, and finally clean up. This teaches budgeting skills, cooking skills and a real sense of responsibility and personal accomplishment. Some of our women enjoy art, sewing, and jewelry-making classes. Some prefer learning how to apply make-up, nail care or hair styling. Still others work on their personal hygiene habits, like the proper way to brush their teeth, while others enjoy going to a bank to learn how to use an ATM, or conduct a transaction with a bank teller. We are always seeking new ways to help them to improve their lives and gain more independence. Several of the women in our program have married successfully; others have found permanent employment; and many have reached at least some of their long-term personal goals.

Our women would like to be treated like the other members of the community. Many shop in the local stores, stroll in our parks and attend the same community events we do. But making them truly feel that they are part of the community is up to you and me. Those of us who work with persons with disabilities recognize that they often have more to give us than we can hope to offer them. By opening our hearts, homes and communities to them, we are not just bettering their lives, but our own lives as well. u

Rochie Korolitzky supervises the Chayeinu HASC Center Day Habilitation, a post seminary-like program for special needs women in Boro Park. In addition she is on the HASC Board of Staff Trainers. She has a dual Masters in Education and Special Education and has been working with the special needs population for nearly a decade.

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December 2009 • Building Blocks • 27

FAMILY By Shlomo Kertzner

Letter to Parents Choosing a Camp For Your Child with Special Needs Dear Parents, Sending your child with special needs to camp is not only a tremendously positive experience for your child, it can also open a new chapter in your life. Your whole family will gain from the experience. For your child, camp presents a golden opportunity to make new and lasting friendships, to grow and develop, and to discover new strengths. At camp, your child will be given every opportunity to fulfill their dreams of actually playing sports, swimming, and enjoying the same fun activities that other children do during the summer. For parents, summer camp is

a time to recharge their physical and emotional batteries that have been drained by the demands of care-giving to a child with special needs. It also affords them the opportunity to renew their critical personal relationships that may have been damaged by the inevitable strains of prolonged caregiving. The benefits continue, even after your child comes home from camp, due to the added self-confidence, self-sufficiency, and the experience that socializing with children their own age has given them. As recently as just a few years ago, there were very few summer camp options avail-

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able to the parents of children with special needs from the religious community. But that situation has changed dramatically, and today one of the greatest challenges facing these parents is to choose the camp that is “the perfect fit” for their child among the many programs now available. Here are some points to consider for parents who are approaching the idea of summer camp for their child with special needs for the first time. Is my child ready for summer camp? What is your child’s age? Children under the age of 6 may not adjust easily to being away from home for an extended period of time, and many programs won’t accept children who are that young. You may want to consider the “day camp” option first, to prepare your child for the overnight camp experience. Has your child had positive overnight exposure away from home? Have they stayed overnight at the home of a friend or relative, and if so, how did those experiences go? What do you or your child expect him to do at camp? Make your child aware of what each summer camp offers him. If your child can express himself, get him involved in the camp selection process. Your child’s positive expectations about the camp experience can be selffulfilling. What type of camp do you prefer? Some camp programs for special needs will have campers with different kinds of disabilities, while others will be for children with a specific disorder, such as mental retardation, developmental disabilities, autism, cancer, or cerebral palsy.

There are pluses and minuses to both approaches. If your child is put into a summer camp environment with other children who have similar needs, he will likely find it easier to fit in. On the other hand, being exposed to children with other disabilities will broaden your child’s base of experience. It is possible that the disabilities of the other children may make your child feel uncomfortable, or they could have the opposite effect, with your child mimicking their bunkmate’s symptoms (i.e. limping, slurred speech etc.) immediately after they come home from camp. Fortunately, that usually does not last for very long. There is another option to consider, sending your child to a regular camp which has one or more bunks designated for children with special needs. Generally, the bunk will have children with a variety of disabilities, but in some cases, they are specific to a particular disorder. In either case, these camps offer an opportunity for mainstreaming your child through daily contact and interactions with typically developing children in camp of the same age. Check out the camp in advance. Once you have narrowed down your choices, it helps to visit each camp that you are considering before making your final selection. It’s preferable to see the camp while it is in session. You can learn a lot just by watching the body language of the counselors and the kids to see if they are enjoying themselves. Find out what the criteria is for hiring counselors, and if they receive any special training. Check out the camp’s physical


facilities. Are they well equipped and well maintained? Ask to see a typical day’s program of activities. How much of the time is devoted to recreation, educational activities and Torah studies? What is Shabbos like? Talk to the camp staff and counselors, and to parents who have sent their own kids to the camp recently. Another oftenrevealing statistic is the rate of return of campers, year after year. Medical and emergency arrangements. It is comforting to know that all of these programs have trained medical personnel on their staffs, and contingency plans to deal with any medical emergencies that are likely

to arise. However, some camps are better equipped and staffed to handle these situations than others. The same is true with the ability of these camps to provide the specific diet or medical care that a child may need over the course of the summer. It is therefore the responsibility of the parents to talk to someone on the camp’s medical staff and satisfy themselves that the camp is fully prepared to meet all of the particular health needs of their child. Location location location!!! Finally, do you want to send your child to a camp program that is local or far away? Each option offers its pros and cons: A nearby camp: • Is easier to get to in case of

an emergency or just for an impromptu visit. • Reduces travel costs. • Makes it is more likely your child will meet other local children whom they already know. A camp that is further away: • Expands your list of available choices. • Offers your child a wider range of new experiences and environments. • Means higher travel costs and longer travel times. • Can turn a family camp visit into real vacation. Parents need to have confidence, first that their child is ready for camp, and second that they have chosen a summer camp program that will keep their child safe and fully meet

his or her needs. Then the parents can look forward, without guilt, to a badly needed respite for themselves, as their child enjoys and grows from the camp experience, widening his horizons, developing her skills and becoming a more self-sufficient person. u Shlomo Kertzner is the director of Camp Ahuvim. For many years, Shlomo was actively involved in different organizations that benefited children with special needs and their families. He worked tirelessly as a counselor in summer camps for special needs children and then opened up his camp, exclusively for autistic boys, a first in the frum world. He currently works as a Reshab & Respite Supervisor at Ohel Bais Ezra. He can be reached at 347-438-6103.

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December 2009 • Building Blocks • 29

FAMILY FORUM FAMILY FORUM Edited by Perel Grossman

The Family Forum section of The Jewish Press’ Building Blocks magazine was introduced to allow parents, relatives and even friends of those with learning or physical challenges to share ideas and information, raise concerns, and take comfort in the triumphs of others over adversity. One theme echoed by some of our con-

Esther Hornstein

tributors was what appears to be a gap between what is available for people who are, unfortunately, severely handicapped, and those who are suffering from “mild” disabilities. It would seem that the community doesn’t appear to offer quite as much for those whose challenges are not “life threatening”.

Common Sense and Child Vaccination


e live in an age of rampant cancers and autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, diabetes, polychondritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and thyroid disease. This is a new phenomenon, something not seen in previous generations. As both the mother of a 2-year-old son and a student of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, I am concerned with understanding the possible source of this phenomenon, and then acting accordingly to protect the health of my child. There are many potential environmental factors which could be responsible for the sharp increase in the incidence of these diseases. However, since they have become so prevalent, it is logical to assume that the agent or agents responsible are very common in the population. A possible agent would be one or more of the vaccines with which we routinely immunize our young children against a variety of diseases. This is not a totally new or novel idea. There has been a lot of speculation that the preservative known as thimerosal, which contains ethyl mercury and which was commonly added to vaccines for children manufactured prior to 1999, might have contributed to the recent sharp increase in the incidence of autism. Upon the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the use of thimerosal was

30 • Building Blocks • December 2009

phased out, starting in 1999, as part of general effort to reduce children’s exposure to mercury from all sources, but thimerosal is hardly the only potential problem ingredient in many vaccines still in use today. They contain a lot of other ingredients and preservatives, such as aluminum, whose effects on human tissues have not been fully tested. These vaccines usually contain active ingredients meant to generate antibodies, and hence, immunity, to at least 3 different childhood diseases simultaneously. But some of the diseases against which these vaccines are meant to afford immunity are more dangerous than others. For example, polio, rheumatic fever and diphtheria are often crippling or life threatening, but childhood measles and mumps are generally much less serious. The practice of bundling immunizations against multiple illnesses into a single vaccine is problematic, and may pose an unnecessary added risk to your child’s health. When you inject a vaccine, you expose the child’s body to a weakened form of the disease against which you are trying to create the immunity. The exposure stimulates the body’s natural defenses to create antibodies that will protect it against the full strength version of that disease. However, the body naturally encounters agents spreading diseases one at a time. By injecting a young child with the agents of three or

more separate diseases simultaneously, you are tripling the risk that child’s immune system may not be capable of fighting off all of them at the same time. In light of that risk, for my two-year-old son, I have chosen to heed the warnings of certain pediatricians about administering vaccines to young children. They note that every vaccination poses a small but real inherent risk that the child’s immune system may not react as we expect it to. The child may be particularly vulnerable to one of the antigens or the additives in that vaccine. Vaccinating a child with a disease factor to which he or she is particular vulnerable is doubly dangerous because the disease goes straight to the blood level (a Chinese medical term), and hence bypasses the body’s natural defenses. This can expose the child’s internal organs directly to the pathogen in the vaccine, potentially causing adverse effects. These pediatricians also urge parents to think twice about immunizing their child at such a young age against the less dangerous childhood diseases, such as measles and mumps because the dangers from the vaccination may well be greater than from the child actually contracting the disease, especially if the child is otherwise healthy. Others advise waiting to administer the polio vaccine until a time when the individual will be traveling to a country where there is a polio outbreak.

Finally, there is the consideration that these vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing the disease. A reminder of that fact was an outbreak of the mumps this fall in Boro Park and Lakewood among kids who came home from the same summer camp, even though some of them had previously been vaccinated against the mumps. There is also a school of thought which argues that it is not healthy to try to protect our children from routine exposure to many of the disease factors and antigens normally found in the environment. There are studies which suggest that children who grow up in a home environment from which all potential factors which could trigger their body’s natural immune reactions (e.g. pets, common food allergens, dust) have been removed, are more likely to develop allergic reactions to those factors later in their life. For my own son, I have been selective in choosing the diseases I have had him vaccinated against, choosing only the more serious ones, such as DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus), Pneumococcal (pneumonia) and Hib (a leading cause of bacterial meningitis). I have insisted that he be inoculated against only one disease at a time, and make sure that he is not the least bit sick when he gets the vaccine. This allows my son’s body to recuperate from any ill effects from these Continues on Page 34

FAMILY FORUM Adina • Queens, NY ere is an issue I would like to bring up as the sister of a special-needs child:It is very easy for us to help those who are the obviously in need-- the man dressed in rags, the woman in the wheelchair, and the outwardly developmentally disabled. All too often, however, we neglect those whose needs are not as readily apparent-the man dressed for Wall Street who lost his job and is having trouble making ends meet, the woman who looks healthy but suffers from a debilitating chronic condition, or, as in my brother’s case, the seemingly normally developed child who suffers from disabilities and disorders that are not so readily apparent. Baruch Hashem, we have many wonderful organizations catering to those children who need it most. Our community does an excellent job of making sure that those children receive a quality edu-


M. Y. • Monsey, NY y oldest son, now age sixteen was born with a very mild case of Asperger’s syndrome – part of the autism family. (If you have never heard of Asperger’s I would recommend you google it, as I will be unable to fully describe it in this setting). He is normal in almost every way and at first glance, most people would be unable to pick up on anything being amiss. However, the little subtleties that an adult may not pick up in a casual conversation with him are blatancy obvious to his classmates or peers. I won’t go through a lengthy description of his issues, suffice it to say, he was not able to either function or be accepted as he is in a yeshiva setting (or for that matter, in a standard public


In Need of a Yeshiva cation, both Jewish and secular. However, there is a whole class of children who can most certainly be said to have “special needs” but not on the same level those who benefit from already existing programs. Unfortunately, there seems to be a serious dearth of programs catering to these moderately special-needs children. In my brother’s case, the situation is such that he is not currently in a Yeshiva. You read that right: my younger brother, a member of a fine Modern Orthodox family, living in a strong, well-known Modern Orthodox community, is deprived of a Jewish education simply because my parents have been hard pressed to find a Yeshiva that can accommodate his needs. A yeshiva that is equipped to deal issues such as behavior, tics, OCD and other common issues facing higher functioning children with special needs.

The Yeshiva he went to when he first started school, while academically appropriate, was ill-equipped to deal with his outbursts and other antics; my parents looked into another school, but found that the children in the “special” track were severely mentally and developmentally disabled. They didn’t have the resources to deal with my “in the middle” brother. They are continuing to look for alternatives, but for now he is in a small, nondenominational private school that has wonderful resources for him. He is excelling in all of his subjects-except for Limudei Kodesh, and that is because in this non-Jewish school, there are, of course, no Limudei Kodesh. And that is the tragedy for my brother and others like him. Yeshivas had no place for him; although he has tutors to teach him his Limudei Kodesh, they are no match for the education provided

by a Yeshiva; if and when he does find a place to go, he will be very far behind the others his age in that respect. Why is there no place for this child??? I know we are in a recession and no one has the money to fund new programs, but how can we bear to neglect the Chinuch of a Jewish child? Can we think of no workable solutions for the sake of a precious Jewish soul? I don’t know what the solution is, but what I do know is that my brother is not getting the Jewish education that he needs and deserves, and that is a travesty. We as a community have, in the past, relied on our ingenuity and resourcefulness to counteract all sorts of challenging communal problems, and this problem deserves no less of that attention and creativity. u

Living with Asperger’s school setting either.) The main point I wish to convey is that the yeshiva day school world definitely does adequately cater to those students who have issues. However, they are usually blatantly obvious ones, such as full-blown autism, or a severe physical or mental disability. Those types of cases are categorized with the school district and funding to supply various educational services to such a student is available. It is more complicated when you have someone who does not fall into one of those categories. My son, who has a mild case of Asperger’s, does not qualify for the special attention he needs because he is considered too high functioning. This poses a challenge, as he is con-

sidered to be a bit “off” by his classmates, and even his teachers will notice that something is not right with him. I had many hardships attempting to get him into a mainstream yeshiva for many years, as the administration feared for his well-being. This is because there was a concern that he would be ridiculed, singled out or humiliated by his classmates for being socially off. (One should not think that just because he is in a frum atmosphere with orthodox children, that he will be treated in an appropriate manner. If anything, I’ve found that he was more accepted in a public school setting. I guess kids will be kids.) I did find a yeshiva for him where he is doing well, but the student body consists of 8 chil-

dren who have issues more severe than him. There is (or was) a school in Livingston, NJ that had 4 students with Asperger’s from the entire tri-state area. It was absolutely perfect for him. However, the cost was $45,000 per year – with a scholarship, $22,000 a year. (Definitely a luxury for the rich!) There is an orthodox parent support group (online) to assist parents and provide ideas and guidance for this particular class of Asperger’s syndrome. However, I am not certain what can be done to specifically cater to this population without it costing a fortune. (Yeshiva tuition is already cost prohibitive as it is!!) u

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 31

FAMILY FORUM Marsha Peterson • Minnesota


s a single parent of a child with both Down’s syndrome and autism, I have faced a number of challenges over the years. But I wouldn’t change a thing. Chad is now 17 and is a lot of fun to be around. When Chad was 11 months old, he was admitted to the hospital for the first time. It was the beginning of a list of diagnosis to follow. I chuckle remembering a friend of mine, also raising a son with Down syndrome, say to me, “we get them, and then we have to fix them.” We learned later that Chad is a silent aspirator and that was the cause for the pneumonia that kept him in the hospital for eight days. Nothing is more frightening then hearing the doctor say, “there’s nothing more we can do for him.” I counted the number of people at that time involved with getting him back to a healthy baby and there were 27 professionals ranging from doctors to teachers, to personal care attendants. Chad’s special ed teacher made visits once a week. Shortly after he came home from the hospital, she suggested sign language would benefit him. I remember feeling overwhelmed because I had so much to manage with his health needs and working full time as well. Sign language! How was that going to happen? Over time, the thing I have become the most proud of is Chad’s ability to communicate. I started putting signs on paper and taping them on the walls so his caregivers could communicate too. I was convinced this was his language after he was given a Sit ‘n Spin and wanted to know how he should sign it. We would learn five to six new

32 • Building Blocks • December 2009

My Son, Chad signs every week and this became our special time together. Learning to communicate is a gift we give our babies. The more signs Chad learned, the more he could share his wants and needs with me and the calmer our home became. The low muscle tone that is likely the cause of his aspirating also prevented him from walking independent of a rolling rocker until he was in the first grade. At the end of that year, he started falling down, so we went back to the hospital for knee surgery. Since Chad already had a reputation for a runny nose, the pediatrician thought we could try a 31-day home IV antibiotic at the same time. While his knees were being operated on, the surgeon also put in a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter). I was shocked to find out that it would be me who administered the antibiotic once a day as well as cleaned the IV 12 hours after the antibiotic had been given. There just seemed to be something wrong with having this medicine and needles in my home. Before Chad was discharged from the hospital, the home health company delivered a hospital bed. I found a wheelchair ramp to rent while Chad was in recovery so we could get him outside. He already had special braces with locked hinges so that he would not bend his knees too far, too quickly. These restrictions did not stop him from wanting to be active and it seemed the hinges were opening faster each time we visited the doctor. During the antibiotic treatment to clear the sinusitis, I remember seeing Chad’s nose and thinking that was the first time

I actually had ever seen it without it running. You can imagine how disappointed I was when the nurse came at the end of the 31 days to remove the line and before she left the house, my son’s nose started to run! It was a long summer, but now he would be ready for the second grade. Chad has always been a social character. One time while driving, something hit the inside of the windshield and startled me. It was Chad throwing his shoe. Three more bangs as he shed his other shoe and both his AFO’s. Then I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder as he handed me a sock. He has always preferred to be shoeless; in fact keeping a shirt on him at home is something I don’t even try to do any more. Over the years I’ve watched my son through sickness and struggles. I’ve become the “warrior” my baby support group told me I would become. I’ve worked hard to get his educational needs met and even was able to have him transferred to a different school that would better handle his autism and behavior needs. Chad may have been born with special needs, but it is I, that by given the opportunity to be his mother, who feels special. u Marsha Peterson is the proud par-

ent of a child with special needs, who she fondly refers to as Potts. After deciding that sign language would be his main communication mode, she made the commitment to make sure his educational needs to teach him was in place. She developed a company called Talking with Baby and later published her first book (Come Sign with Us) because she wants to help babies learn to communicate. See her ad in the product section.

Frustrated Parents

Monsey, NY


inding a shidduch today is a very difficult and frustrating process, but when you add the fact that our daughter has learning disabilities and never went to college it’s a much more difficult process. Our daughter looks like all other girls, has a job, drives and has her own apartment. When people find out she went to special education schools she usually gets set up with someone who is much older, doesn’t really have a job or has more severe disabilities then she has. We have been using some of the frum websites to help her get a shidduch, but since the shadchan has never met her they assume she can be set up with someone who has more issues than she has. Why should she have to settle for someone who barely makes a living or is not a regular guy? Girls like our daughter should have the same opportunity to marry someone who is regular, but the opportunities aren’t really there. The whole religious shadchan scene is not set up to deal with girls like our daughter. This issue is just like it was many years ago when our daughter was growing up; special education in our yeshivas was taboo and schools didn’t want to deal with special education students. Just like rabbanim have been dealing with older girls marrying younger guys it’s time for rabbanim and organizations to create an environment and an opportunity to enable girls like our daughter to find a regular guy, be happy and have a normal life. Girls like our daughter don’t get too many breaks, it’s time for the Jewish community to wake up and do what they can. u

FAMILY FORUM Sandy Rosenwasser

Life’s Challenges - a Mothers View


ife can be very challenging. We don’t realize it until we become parents and have our own children. When we are children, we sometimes take life for granted. My name is Sandy and I am the proud mother of 2 multiply handicapped, medically challenged young men. I also have a brother who is multiply handicapped—“brain damaged”. As the oldest child in my family, it was my responsibility to help take care of my younger siblings. Yes, my brother acted funny at times, he had tantrums, but that didn’t stop me from loving him and taking care of him. It wasn’t until he was 5 years old that he was finally diagnosed as brain damaged. My parents didn’t have the resources we have today. When the therapists came to the house, I was the one who was told what to do with my brother. It taught me patience, kindness, restraint, and forgiveness. Not for one moment did I hesitate to take him to shul on Shabbos. Hashem gives us many challenges and performs many nis-

M. W. • New Jersey would like the readers of the Jewish Press to hear a little about my situation. My wife and I have several wonderful children. One of our kids does have some small issues with a learning disability. This was not diagnosed until he was much older. Unfortunately, because we did not know he had a disability, he did not get the help he needed and so he had trouble in school, both academically and socially. He is somewhat compulsive and doesn’t always fit into social groups easily.


sim (miracles). It wasn’t until I had my second child (a preemie) that I would use what I had learned from taking care of my brother to take care of my own son. I would (and so would my husband) infuse in our daughter the love for her brother a preemie—who would need much care. We were fortunate enough to be able to bring her into the ICU and she was able to hold him and love him. When he was growing up, there were many times that I heard professionals say, “he might never walk or talk”. I refused to accept that. Many people have said that is at this point I got my strength to advocate and “big mouth”. When I was six months pregnant with my third child I was told that there were many problems and that he might not live. As this was not something we could share with our parents, my husband and I found ourselves talking to Hashem a lot. We knew that our child would be going into surgery right after birth. You see, his belly button was open and his intestines

were sticking out. His left kidney was also multi cystic and not functioning. I spoke to Hashem often, asking from Him many bakashot (requests). Once again, what I had learned when taking care of my brother was being used for my own children. In the summer of ’88 I took a job at a bungalow colony. My children attended a special-ed day camp. My daughter would help with both boys and I had a mother’s helper. My 9 monthold attended day camp a halfday and when he came back to the bungalow, the therapist would come to work with him some more. After the therapist left, I found myself doing the therapy again. The therapists told me that the more therapy I would do, the more progress my son would have. How true. Two years later I was told that he would need to have a fourth surgery at the end of the summer. We worked intensively that summer in therapy and Baruch Hashem he did not need the surgery. A nes! Over time I learned that I had

to fight and advocate on my children’s behalf. I asked questions of all the specialists and never hesitated to call when I needed to. There were many frustrations and challenges, but there were also miracles and milestones. When my older brother lived at home (he know lives in a group home) I had a friend who let him work in his restaurant. I learned that many things are possible if you put a lot of effort into it. Baruch Hashem both my boys walk and talk. My older son has sung with Shloime Dachs. I am a proud parent who was not afraid to sue the school district (and won) to keep my child in the school he was in. Now, he can read. He gets up every morning to go to shul with his father to a 6:20am minyan. So if you have a special needs child, don’t be afraid to talk, to network, to explore any and all possibilities. u And feel free to contact me with questions or comments at

No Expert Help Our son’s trouble with school and his social awkwardness seem to have led him to a point where Judaism itself became an issue for him. He started, in his early teens, to engage in some behavior that, while not dangerous and criminal, was outside the bounds of what our community would accept. He was, ultimately, thrown out of one school and went through several other schools until he finally ended up in a place that was able to deal with him. During the time when our

son was acting up, my wife and I tried to consult with some of the “experts” who are known for dealing with “at risk” children. We were very disappointed. One “expert” in particular, who is well known in the New York area and speaks in many of the schools, brushed me off with the comment that my son was “just being a normal teenager”. Ironically, after several years when we happened to speak to him again, he asked us why we didn’t come to him sooner. I got the impression from

dealing with the afore-mentioned “expert” and others, that unless my child was, G-d forbid, facedown in a gutter somewhere with a needle sticking out of his arm, the “experts” were just not interested. I’m hoping that one of the “experts” might be reading this and will understand that even if a child isn’t engaging in dangerous, anti-social and/or criminal behavior, you might find some time for his/her parents also. u

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 33


Continued from Page 30

vaccines one at a time, instead of having to fight them all off at once. It also makes it possible to easily identify which specific vaccine is responsible for any possible negative reaction to an injection. Not every pediatrician will cooperate with such requests. Some doctors get very defensive when parents voice their suspicions that harm might come from the vaccines they administer. At the very least, the doctor will charge more to administer each vaccination separately than all-together. Parents also have to make

sure that their child gets the vaccinations that he or she needs for admission to the school of your choice. My advice to my fellow parents is to do their own research. They should then discuss with their pediatrician whether their child should receive all the standard immunizations, and whether they want them administered one at a time, or ganged up in multiple vaccines. In the end, it’s your responsibility to make the decision that you feel is best to protect the health of your child. u

My Sister’s Not Like Yours

“Rochel” Age 13

I have a younger sister She’s very dear to me. But you just think she’s different The outside is what you see. My sister’s not like yours And that is all you notice. You point when I’m not looking You sneer and laugh and hiss.

You think it doesn’t hurt her “She doesn’t understand.” You taunt a helpless child You have the upper hand. Does it really please you To laugh and smirk and stare. You think she doesn’t realize Or see or hear or care. My sisters not like yours But don’t you dare upset her. Cause my sisters not like yours To me she is better. u

Mother In The Shoe First Do No Harm… our community more parents have chosen to raise their children with special needs at home with their families. As parents of special children we come across the path of many doctors and specialists in the process of caring for our children. Here are some tips from parents’ perspectives that doctors and people in the medical and therapeutic profession should consider when treating our children:

2. On the same note, don’t react with surprise and astonishment when you find out that I am not an employee of an agency or group home but just a parent seeking care for my child. 3. Please treat my child as a person and not a diagnosis or a specimen.

4. Please include me as a val1. Please don’t assume that my ued partner in my child’s care. I


viding information about the condition, it is a personal decision that needs to be made between the parents.


9. Please be helpful with paperwork. Parents of special children have many medical forms and letters they need for their children’s school, the Board of Education and government programs. Hold ups with paperwork create lengthy delays in our children obtaining the programs and services they so desperately need.

Please return my phone calls when I have medical or therapeutic concerns about my child’s care.

Please get to know my child and what he/she does or doesn’t understand before discussing sensitive aspects of their case in front of them.

7. Please be careful when you discuss my child’s prognosis. Don’t be glib about sensitive issues such as what my child’s life expectancy may be. Assume that I love my child at least as much as any other parents love their children.

child, especially an older teen does not reside at home. With the advent of person centered planning, and increased opportunities for our children in

know my child better that anyone else and my insight into their symptoms and what is norm for them is of significant importance.

8. Please be sensitive when discussing genetic disorders not to pass judgment or make comments such as asking parents why they have chosen to have more children. After pro-

Parenting Guidelines…

guage are powerful communication devices. Very young children often do not have the language to communicate more complex needs and feelings. Our ability as parents to

observe and interpret these behaviors helps us meet their needs. Older children often can’t or won’t use language to communicate problems or concerns. Again, our ability to

As a parent we need to be aware of any changes in our child’s life that can affect their behavior. In very young children, behavior and body lan34 • Building Blocks • December 2009

10. Please be sensitive to the fact that it is difficult for my child to wait for a long time in a waiting room. Please consider this when scheduling appointments for my child. Please sensitize your staff to working with special children and their families. u observe and interpret behavior helps us reach out to our kids and helps them negotiate their feelings in complex situations.

FAMILY FORUM SIBS SPEAK Edited by Perel Grossman

Welcome to another edition of Sibs Speak; the place where siblings of children with special needs get to share their thoughts and feelings, and tell us what’s on their minds. We asked our readers to tell us what makes their special brother or sister so special to them. It is interesting to note the similari-

By C. Kramer I have a brother who is very close to my heart, his name is Ari*. Now almost 22, Ari was unfortunately diagnosed with an illness called Epilepsy at a very young age. As a result of this, he is mentally on the level of a younger child, and is currently in a local group home. He visits us at home very often. Ari and I are four years apart, which makes us relatively close. When I was a young girl, I never really understood how different Ari was, which only now have I realized is what made him the extremely special person that he is today. As time went by, I realized how fortunate I was to have such a magnificent brother. He constantly smiles and is just always positive about life. He is a very blissful person who brings light into everyone’s days by warming up their hearts with his sweet smile; because he has the ability to make them feel loved. And every time I see Ari jovial and delighted, and his wondrous smile, I can’t help but smile as well. Ari is also known to be very caring. When my family and I are privileged to have him over

Lakewood, New Jersey Hi. I am a twin and I have a brother that has autism. And he has two therapists that come during the week. I like when they come because I like to watch them. He is very good when they come. I love him so much. And he is so cute. We’re

ties in the comments, which points to the many things that Special Needs children can teach us if we only take a moment to reflect upon them. Here is a sampling of some of the responses we got from our wonderful readers:

My Special Brother for a Shabbos or just a visit during the week, he always offers to help around the house, with such simcha and enthusiasm. And he especially loves to come home on a Sunday to help my parents do some chores. Ari is someone with many talents and tremendous capabilities. One of the countless gifts that he is blessed with is making me feel valuable and cherished. He enables me to feel significant in the world, but especially in his eyes, because he very much treasures my opinions and observations. For example, he recently came over to me in the middle of a family simcha, and asked me to watch him dance, which made me feel so vital, the fact that he asked me out of all the people that were there to watch him dance. I felt so honored; as I stood back, and watched him with tear-filled eyes at the way he danced with such innocence and simchas hachaim. And that was definitely a moment that will remain sacred in my heart for the rest of my life. He also enjoys when I help him practice his reading and

writing. I know how much it means to him that I spend some time with him and bond with him, because he reveres every second that I attend to his needs. And even though it may be difficult for him to express his appreciation to me, I know deep down that he loves me and is thankful for having me as his sister. Some people feel sorry for me when I tell them that I have a special needs brother. But I just tell them with a huge smile, how lucky and fortunate I am to have such an extraordinary brother like Ari. Because all it takes is for a person to witness what I do when I watch Ari, and then they too will be amazed at my brother. And although Ari is unable to academically and socially be like everyone else, he is still a wonderful brother who has a heart of pure gold. And being that Ari is my brother, I have only grown to greater heights, and have learned many important lessons about life. One of them is that I have came to the realization that what matters the most in a person is their inner

beauty, and not what appears on their outside. It is a person’s middos and actions that reflect who they really are. Therefore it is very essential for everyone not to judge people on how they look physically, and how they might appear outwardly. We have to look beyond all the physicality, and come to appreciate their inner worth, which is what truly makes them beautiful. And I have to say, that the fact that Hashem sent Ari down to this world to be my brother, is the kindest and most meaningful gift that He bestowed upon me, because Ari is someone who constantly makes me happy, and with each passing day I learn new lessons from him, from all of the knowledge and wisdom that he radiates. Hashem sends special individuals down to this world, in order that we can learn from them and work on ourselves. My love for Ari only deepens with every second that I am alive, because it’s because of him that I am the person who I am today! u (*name has been changed)

My Special Twin teaching him to knock on peoples door and not just to walk into peoples’ houses when he is not supposed to. A girl comes in the morning to get him ready for school. She is very nice. He even knows how to read tons of sight words already!

He goes to a different type of school than me. And he goes on a small bus that has wheelchairs on the bus. He is not in a second grade like me; he is in a class that is called W-5. There is a house that is called Center House. Sometimes he

sleeps there and sometimes he plays there. There is a video there that they watch. It is so much fun there. I love having a special brother. u

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 35

EDUCATION By Yaakov Kornreich


In the Beginning. . . An Interview with Burt Jaffa, a Founder of PTACH

he quote, “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” is often attributed to Sir Isaac Newton, but in fact there is an earlier citation, from the Teshuvos of the Rid, a Rishon who lived in 13th century Italy. In our community today, we, too, have been blessed to be able to stand on the shoulders of the giants who were able to see, when nobody else could, the potential to help our children to overcome their learning disabilities. Rabbi Burton Jaffa, one of the founders of PTACH, is among those giants in our midst. In 1976, when PTACH began, Jewish children who suffered with learning disabilities - and their frustrated parents - had

36 • Building Blocks • December 2009

few available educational options. “It was a barren desert,” recalls Rabbi Burton Jaffa, PTACH’s National Director, in a telephone interview. Rabbi Jaffa is one of the pioneers in the effort to give Jewish children with learning disabilities an effective Torah education. PTACH was the pioneer of special education in the yeshiva community, and today it remains the premiere organization in this field. It started when several parents, including Rabbi Jaffa, whose children were encountering difficulties in yeshiva maintaining their concentration and learning how to read, got together to give their children a chance to get a Torah education and become productive members of Klal Yisroel.

According to Rabbi Jaffa, for the first 2 years of its existence, “PTACH could do little more than provide these parents with a shoulder to cry on. At the time, there were no services within the community to help their children, and very little real understanding of why these children were having so much difficulty learning in yeshiva. At the time, they were called ‘children with minimal cerebral dysfunction,’ and most people in the community thought that there was very little that could be done to help them.” The first breakthrough came in 1978, when a group of PTACH parents convinced Yeshiva University High School to open the first PTACH special education classroom. The next year, 1979, they opened 4 more programs in the New York area. After that, every year, new they programs were opened in large Jewish communities across the United States. Over the years, as the National Director of PTACH, Rabbi Jaffa witnessed, “a tremendous growth in sensitivity to the learning differences exhibited by certain children. While others call these conditions learning disabilities, we in PTACH prefer to call them learning differences, which, for most people in our community, is a far less threatening and stigmatizing term. “Their parents can now give these children an opportunity to succeed in their studies. I have had the zchus to be able to watch 27 years of PTACH graduates go on to obtain degrees at universities, become talmidim in our leading yeshivos and achieve success in their lives. Some became lawyers, others became doctors, and I know of at least one student who went on to become a Rosh Yeshiva. “If the standard learning process does not work for a child, PTACH’s answer is to find other

learning pathways and methods that do work and enable him or her to succeed. PTACH works on a child’s areas of strength while building up the areas in which he or she has deficiencies. Different children will need to be presented with different modalities to help them to learn. For example, some children have visual issues that mean that they will never be able to read, but they can be taught how to compensate by building up a 98% retention rate for anything they hear. They can learn, but in a different way than most other children. “In the past these children would have been labeled failures and gone on to become a burden on the community, but with the proper help, today they are succeeding in their studies and becoming productive members of the community. “Over the years, PTACH blazed the trail for dozens of programs under Jewish auspices that are helping our children with learning differences. Today, there are 1500 to 2000 such boys and girls in the Greater New York area who are being helped in resource rooms and special education classrooms. That’s a far cry from the 13 children we started with in the first PTACH special education classroom 31 years ago. “Years ago, PTACH surveyed children in kindergarten and first grades for symptoms of learning disabilities. We wound up flagging 13-14% of all the kids we screened. A decade later when we were approached for help in placing children from these same schools in high school special education classes, we checked our records, and found that we were talking about many of the same kids. Most children do not grow out of learning differences over time.” Another part of the problem

EDUCATION is the tremendous expense of special education, which averages $32,000-$35,000 per student per year. That is why PTACH provides $1.5 million in scholarships each year. In addition, there are still some yeshivos still in denial. According to Rabbi Jaffa, “they don’t want to admit that any of their students is not a metzuyon. Others are running special education classes or resource rooms and denying that they have them.� Their next goal is to share the lessons it has learned about the various modalities with the teachers in our regular yeshiva classrooms. Rabbi Jaffa says, “In PTACH, we like to say the Jewish special education is not special, every Jewish child is. “Special education is just another form of good teaching. Many of its best methods and

one of these 5-day programs which can train up to 25 teachers. According to Rabbi Jaffa, “There is always more for us to do. The task which begun in 1976 is still unfinished. There are more of our community’s children who need our help.� u techniques are also very useful in the regular classroom, where there are kids who need to be taught using different modalities in the learning process. Our rabbeim and teachers need to know how to identify the kids in their classes who have specific learning issues, and then how to apply the techniques from special education to help them to perform better. “PTACH is part of a national teacher training program called “Schools Attuned.� So far, 700 rabbeim and yeshiva teachers

in the New York area have gone through the full 5-day training program, taught by PTACH’s Educational Director, Dr. Judah Weller. It teaches them to understand the various modalities and techniques of the learning process. “However, this training is very expensive, because in addition to hiring the professionals to run the seminars, we also have to provide substitutes to cover the classrooms of the teachers while they are being trained. It costs $45,000 for PTACH to run

PTACH was established in 1976 by a group of concerned parents and professionals who demanded that children in our yeshivos with learning differences be given a chance to succeed. Today PTACH has model programs, affiliate programs and chapters across the USA, Canada and Israel. For more information, contact PTACH at 1428 36 Street - Room 211, Brooklyn, NY 11218, (718) 854-8600,


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December 2009 • Building Blocks • 37 10/15/09 3:10 PM



By Pnina Bravmann, Au.D.,CCC/SLP-A, TSHH, SAS, Cert AVT and Jacqueline DeGroat, M.S.Ed., Psy.D

Mainstreaming and Integration: A Recipe for Our Children’s Success

ecisions…decisions…how many discussions do we, as parents, have when trying to figure out which school is the best school for our children? We revisit that question again and again throughout each child’s school or yeshiva career... These choices are far more complex for a child with speech-

grated, mainstream educational setting. How can parents identify which setting will best meet their child’s needs? This requires careful fact-finding and assessment in advance, and, once the decision is made, continuous monitoring and creative problem solving to ensure the child is

with special needs sitting alongside and learning with typically developing children. The classroom has a higher staff to student ratio, including specialists that support implementing specific educational strategies and techniques geared to those with special needs. The special needs children also benefit and

stream setting with SEIT (Special Education Itinerant Teacher) support services. This model works best for a child who already has a good foundation of cognitive and linguistic skills, and is intellectually capable of keeping pace with the learning content in the mainstream setting, yet still requires additional

When School Starts...

language, listening, processing or other special learning needs. For these children, we must look beyond our own personal styles and preferences to make the right educational choice. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 establishes the legal right for each child to be educated in the environment that is most appropriate and “least restrictive” for them. It requires the government to provide an education for each child in a setting that both challenges and supports him in a way that leads to his best potential for success. As a practical matter, it means trying to give that child as many of the same opportunities that we give to our other children in an inte38 • Building Blocks • December 2009

meeting their full potential. Fortunately, parents do not need to do this on their own. It is done in conjunction with a multi-specialty educational team, which may include a special education teacher, speech-language pathologist, audiologist, psychologist, OT/PT, etc. When deciding whether the child is ready for a mainstream learning environment and the degree of classroom integration, the team will evaluate the child’s cognitive, auditory, speech-language and social skills, while taking into account the child’s confidence and self-esteem levels. There are a number of options:

Degrees of Integration

The typical integrated classroom is a 50/50 split of children

learn from the social models of their typically developing peers in the same classroom. When implemented in a preschool class, this approach can prepare special needs children for full mainstreaming as early as kindergarten. In their early years, many special needs children receive educational and intervention services in classrooms or with therapists who are very attuned to the child’s unique needs and behaviors. After such a high level of individual attention, the child’s introduction into a “mainstream” classroom filled with typically developing children can be an intimidating experience. Another option is a main-

Parents can help by sending a note to the teacher and therapists giving them some insights about how their child reacts in certain situations. Examples: Because of her balance problems, Jenny gets easily frightened in crowds – it would help her to be close to you when the class walks in the hallway. If David is reluctant to try something new, it helps if you suggest, “Let’s try it together.” Seat my daughter away from noise sources, generally at the front and to the side so she can see who’s talking, with a good view of the blackboard. Encourage her to ask for repetition when she doesn’t understand. If you don’t understand what he says the first time, calmly ask him to repeat it once. The class will pick up your attitude. Teacher-Parent Feedback Parents should also invite the teacher or therapist to write them back, telling them what they can do at home to help their child succeed in the classroom. …Bravmann & DeGroat


support to overcome specific attention, processing or social issues, linguistic concepts, etc. For some children, the transition to a mainstream classroom can have a negative impact on their self-esteem and emotional well being. Optimistic and supportive parents, and at least a few solid friendships will help the child to feel more confident, increasing the likelihood that they will be able to make that transition successfully. Some educators believe that for children of kindergarten age, their social skills are more important for mainstreaming readiness than their academic skills. As a result, parents trying to decide whether their child is ready for mainstreaming should ask their child’s current service providers and educational planning team: What is the child’s view of himself and his abilities? How well does he tolerate frustration? Is he able to initiate verbal or nonverbal interaction with peers?

proach to maximize the success of a mainstreamed child. Each member of the team must understand their role and stay “on the same page” with the others, as they monitor the child’s progress and plan future lessons. When the classroom teacher coordinates the upcoming lesson plans with therapists or SEIT teachers, they can pre-teach the child, review difficult concepts and employ group-teaching techniques. Parents also need to work with the team to identify and address behavior or learning difficulties at home, and in school, before they become more difficult to manage. For parents, the process of integrating their special needs child into a mainstream classroom requires maintaining a delicate balance between adapting to mainstream expectations and continuing to attend to the child’s individual needs. Parents must act as effective advocates for their child. However, at the

From the child’s point of view, mainstreaming is a real challenge. He must face and enter a much larger world, and learn how to deal with the range of reactions of others to his unique needs, skills and potential. Even for a child who has made a successful transition into a general education environment without the need for support services in the classroom, the job is not finished. That child still needs the related services team to monitor their progress, along with the classroom teacher, and to provide additional support outside the classroom as needed in specific areas where the child may still be weak. The parents, teacher and therapists need to follow a team ap-

These are some of the factors which aid in the successful transition of special needs children into a mainstream classroom: l A positive working relationship between parents and service providers. l Child is trained in basic social “survival skills” for interactions with other children, such as appropriate greetings and approach skills (“What are you playing? Can I play too?”) and conflict resolution strategies. l Child is attentive and responsive to teacher directions. l Child is capable of completing tasks independently.

The Mainstreaming Challenge

Keys to a Successful Transition...

…Bravmann & DeGroat

same time, they must exercise patience and flexibility, while working in close cooperation and communication with their child’s mainstream classroom teacher. If the parents can do this, they will also serve as a role model for their child who is trying to do the same kinds of things with their peers in the mainstream classroom. Ultimately, the success of integration and mainstreaming depends on three ingredients:

1. The right educational environment and degree of mainstreaming for the child. 2. A suitable team and support systems in place (i.e. SEIT and related services). 3. Ongoing communications and monitoring to problem

solve and design services to best accommodate the child’s current and changing needs. u Pnina Bravmann, Au.D.,CCC/SLPA,TSHH,SAS, CERT AVT is the founder and director of the Auditory Oral School of New York, the largest auditory oral preschool program in the world, and the StriVright to Succeed Early Intervention Program in Brooklyn, NY. She is an audiologist, speech language pathologist, licensed teacher of the speech and hearing handicapped, a certified auditory verbal therapist and provides services to assist with mainstreaming. She can be contacted at pbrav@auditoryoral. org (718)531-1800. Jacqueline DeGroat, M.S.Ed., Psy.D. provides psychological evaluations, play therapy, and other services as school psychologist at the Auditory Oral School and at the StriVright Program. She can be contacted at (718)531-1800.



AT STRI RIGHT CHILDREN LEARN TO LISTEN, TALK, THINK & SOCIALIZE Home & Center-Based Services Early InterventionPreschool Hearing LossAuditory Processing Speech Language DelaysConfidential Evaluations SEIT/Mainstreaming Audiological ServicesHearing Tests


Where children STRI RIGHT and do succeed ! Visit or call 1-718-531-1800 The Early Intervention Program is funded and regulated by the NYS Dept. of Health & the NYC Dept.of Health & Mental Hygiene.Services are provided at no cost to parents or caregivers. A child’s health insurance may be accessed for reimbursement. A child’s eligibility to receive services under the NYC EIP can only be approved by the NYC EIP. For information on eligibility and referral for services please call 311. The Preschool program is funded and regulated by NYS Education Dept. and the NYC Department of Education.

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 39

EDUCATION By Miriam Goldstein, Ph.D.

Working Memory Difficulties


ovid, a fourth grader, is a bright and social boy, but he struggles in school. He has difficulty following directions, often seems lost in class, and has trouble completing assignments. His teachers suspect he may have a learning disability or an attention problem, but the cause of Dovid’s difficulties is a problem that sometimes goes unrecognized- a weak working memory.

What is working memory and why is it important?

Working memory is the ability to temporarily hold information in one’s mind and to use it to complete a task. It can be thought of as a mental workspace or scratchpad that allows an individual to hold and process information. Working memory is important for many everyday tasks and is especially important for learning. See sidebar (below, above, to the right, to the left) for examples.

The following are examples of tasks that demand working memory: Solving arithmetic problems in one’s head; for example, multiplying 13 by 7. l Carrying out multi-step instructions, such as “Take out your math book, turn to page 38, and answer questions 2, 5, and 9.” l Remembering the words one wants to write in a sentence while thinking of how to spell the individual words. l Considering possible moves while playing a game such as checkers. l


Working memory capacity in all people is limited; if too much information is presented or the processing demands are too great (think of multiplying 491 40 • Building Blocks • December 2009

by 63 in one’s head), the information is lost. However, some individuals have weaknesses in their working memory skills, so that their working memory capacity is particularly limited. Using the scratchpad analogy, we can think of their scratchpad as being much smaller than those of most people their age. In addition, it is as if dissolving ink is being used to write on their scratchpad, so whatever information fits onto the paper is quickly lost. Children who have limited working memories struggle in school. Because they have difficulty carrying out learning-related tasks, they often fail to acquire academic knowledge and skills, causing them to fall behind their peers.

Diagnosing working memory problems

Working memory difficulties are common in individuals with a number of disorders. Students with learning disabilities, particularly dyslexia, and students with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, particularly the inattentive type, frequently experience difficulties with working memory. However, children who do not have other disorders sometimes experience working memory problems. Because the behavioral symptoms of attention problems and working memory problems are often the same, e.g., difficulty following directions, being easily distracted, and forgetting what they learn, children with working memory problems are sometimes misdiagnosed with an attention deficit disorder. Interventions generally used to treat attention problems, including medication, do not help working memory problems. As a result, such children continue to struggle

in school. See sidebar (below, above, to the right, to the left) for examples.

Difficulties that children with working memory problems experience include: l Copying from the blackboard; they must constantly refer back to the board to remember what to write, which makes their copying slow and laborious. l Following multi-step directions, they often can only recall the beginning or end of the instructions. l Organizing their ideas to write an essay. l Comprehending what they read; they may have difficulty integrating the new information with knowledge that they already have about the topic.


To identify whether working memory problems are present, a child would be evaluated by a neuropsychologist or a clinical or school psychologist experienced in testing children with learning and memory difficulties. A number of different measures would be administered, as children may not have uniform working memory skills; for example, they might have poor working memory skills for verbal information but ageappropriate ability to hold and manipulate visual information. As part of the evaluation, the psychologist would test language skills, attention skills, and short- and long-term memory skills to identify if weaknesses in those areas are contributing to the child’s difficulties.

Interventions for working memory weaknesses

Until very recently, it was be-

lieved that working memory skills could not be improved. However, recent research in the field of neuropsychology has investigated a number of computer programs that aim to increase working memory skills. Early findings suggest that the programs are helpful. More research is being conducted to validate their effectiveness and to determine whether the skills learned translate to improved school performance. At this time, tailoring classroom instruction to better meet the needs of students with working memory weaknesses continues to be the most important intervention. Successful classroom strategies include breaking down lengthier instructions to small chunks; repeating important information; having students repeat instructions; and training students to use memory aids, such as charts. With proper identification of their problem and effective interventions to address their needs, students with working memory difficulties can achieve greater academic success. u

Miriam Goldstein, Ph.D. is a pediatric neuropsychologist with a private practice in Brooklyn, NY and an adjunct professor at Columbia University, Teachers College. She specializes in evaluating and developing treatment plans for students with a wide range of difficulties, including: learning disabilities, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, traumatic brain injury, autism spectrum disorders, and genetic and psychiatric disorders. She can be reached at 718-375-8400.

For More Information… Supplemental Reading Working Memory and Learning: A Practical Guide for Teachers by Susan E. Gathercole and Tracy Packiam Alloway Working Memory & Academic Learning: Assessment and Intervention By Milton J. Dehn

EDUCATION By Shoni Eidlisz, LMSW

How to Advocate Effectively for your Child


here is certainly a sense of urgency if you are the parent of a child with special needs struggling in school. Nevertheless, to serve as an effective advocate for your child, it is imperative that you learn the proper advocacy techniques, and apply them in a calm, objective and patient manner. In addition, parents must gain a working understanding of the special education laws which determine your child’s rights to get the services he or she needs.

gument into a negotiation by suggesting a reasonable compromise. Offering to give up a lower priority item on your list can sometimes help you win those services which are much

Consider How Each Step You Take Would Look to an Impartial Decision Maker

Practical Tips: Build a Reliable Team

Find independent evaluators who can help you understand your child’s needs. Consider consulting an educational advocate, who can help you to understand the laws, procedures, and strategies used at meetings with government officials in order to obtain the services you are seeking for your child.

Learn the Rules

Every state has a different set of rules and regulations defining a child’s rights to services and the procedures that are used to obtain those services. Obtain a copy of these written regulations for your state. Learn what they say and bring a copy of them to all meetings with government officials to set the Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), which will determine which services your child will receive.

Prioritize Your Issues

Create a list of what you believe will be most helpful to the success of your child. When you meet with school personnel or the Board of Education, remain focused on your objectives, and be ready to fight to obtain the services on that list. However, also be prepared to turn the ar-

chronological order. However, don’t make any notations on any official documents or letters that you may want to use later as exhibits at a due process hearing. If you are handy with a computer, scan the documents, type in the notes, and enter them all into a database, which you can then bring with you on a laptop for quick reference during meetings.

more important to you and your child. In addition, such a compromise will preserve a good working relationship between your family and the school system to build upon at future meetings.

Document Everything and Keep All Paperwork

Document every communication you have with government officials and agencies. Keep a written log of all telephone and face-to-face conversations. If you have an important phone conversation with a school official, write a letter (or e-mail) summarizing your conversation and ask the official to confirm its accuracy, in writing. Take notes at all meetings. If possible, have another person attend the meetings who can take the notes for you and possibly later serve as a witness. Keep all documents in

When you challenge a government denial of your request for services for your child, in many cases the final decision will be made by a (hopefully impartial) hearing officer. You want to be able to show that hearing officer that you have shared information with the school, treated school personnel respectfully and with courtesy, and made an honest effort to implement the reasonable measures that the school system has offered. You also must show that you are using the due process system to obtain services that are important to meeting your child’s educational goals, rather than fighting over procedural violations or side issues that do not affect the quality of your child’s education. u Shoni Eidlisz is the Director of Early Intervention for OMNI Childhood Center, which provides evaluations and individual comprehensive therapy services for children from Birth – 3 years old, and preschool and school age children (3-21 years old). They are located at 1651 Coney Island Avenue and at 18 Heyward Street, in Williamsburg. For further information, or to make a referral, please call (718) 998-1415.

Learn About the Special Education Laws In order to effectively advocate for your child, it is imperative to understand the laws that apply to special education and services. The Individual with Disabilities Act, Section 504 and No Child Left Behind are three federal laws that deal with students who may have special education needs. Individual with Disabilities Act (IDEA) governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to children with disabilities. It had its origins in the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, passed in 1975, and was most recently reauthorized and expanded with the passage by Congress of the IDEA in 2004. It set procedural safeguards that protect the rights of parents and children during the identification, evaluation and placement process. Parents have the right to be informed and to participate in all meetings regarding their child’s services. Parents may also challenge decisions regarding their child’s education through a due process proceeding, which could include mediation or an impartial hearing. Mediation involves the parent and a representative of the school district working collaboratively with an independent mediator. Any issues settled in mediation must be stated in a written agreement and immediately applied the child’s IEP. Any issues not settled at the mediation session can be discussed further with the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) or the Committee on Special Education (CSE) or brought to an impartial hearing. Impartial Hearing - The parent (or the school district) can request an impartial hearing before a hearing officer who renders a written decision. Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act is an anti-discrimination law that is most often used to obtain accommodations for qualified students. No Child Left Behind provides standards for all students regardless of their disability. Remember, you are your child’s best advocate. Learn the process, the special education laws, and the effective advocacy techniques necessary to fight for your child’s rights. …Eidlisz December 2009 • Building Blocks • 41

EDUCATION By Kalman Greenberg

Rediscovering the Better Angels of Our Nature


ver the years, my wife and I have had numerous interactions with individuals with special needs. Many were at our wedding, at the kiddashim we made in honor of the births of our children, and countless Shabbos meals. We have long appreciated the benefits we have gotten from these interactions, as have our children. But it was only after speaking to other members of our family who have begun working in community residences with such individuals that we realized that they, too, feel this way. But what exactly were we gaining from working and socializing with them? “Special Needs.” We use that term to describe people who, due to cognitive and/or physical challenges act differently from

us, and that creates a tendency for us to define them by their disability. For instance, when we describe them, we typically say, “Aaron is a teenager, yet has trouble making change at the grocery store.” But has this focus blinded us to what these individuals have to teach us? That is, after the all, the approach of our Torah tradition. Rebbe (Reb Yehuda HaNasi), said, “I learned much Torah from my teachers, more from my colleagues, and the most from my students (Maakos 10a). The character of our Torah community is different today than it was in the time of our parents. While in today’s community we have made great strides in promoting and raising the level of Torah study, as attested to by

the popularity of Daf Yomi, and raised our standards of kashruth and other aspects of shmiras hamitzvos, we have perhaps lost something as well. My parents

In our modern sophistication, have we lost something important? often speak of how, in their day, people used to always wish one another Gut Shabbos when they would pass on the street. Also, in those days, it was one community. Even though you may have davened in another shul or belonged to another Kehila, everyone knew one another. By contrast, today in Borough Park and in many other religious neighborhoods, how many of us can say that we know the names of all of our neighbors who live on our own block? It is almost considered bad form, when passing them on the street, to exchange the simplest greeting, such as “good morning” or “Gut Shabbos.” Yes, our Torah community has made great progress, but in the process, haven’t we also lost something important? While no two special needs individuals are exactly the same, as a matter of fact, one can say

that the special needs community is as diverse as a community, there are certain character traits that are almost universal. For example, I have often been impressed with the sincerity with which members of this community wish you a “Good morning.” If asked why the answer usually is, “Because you are supposed to wish everyone good morning.” Everyone, regardless of how that other person may be dressed or what shul or group they may belong to. Sincerity is not the only thing we can learn. An honesty and work ethic pervades all aspects of how many special needs adults interact with society. Work is important and a source of pride to them. They understand that they are being paid for their time, and cheerfully work hard to earn their pay. This is also how they approach all other obstacles in their path, as something that they can overcome if they work hard enough. Yet another lesson is in persistence. Those with special needs will very often happily keep working to achieve their goals, large or small, long after you and I would have given up. They are also notable for the one all too common personality trait in our society that they lack - cynicism. Our automatic reaction, when someone offers to do us a favor, is to look for an

Parenting Guidelines… How can we as parents

help our children make responsible choices and learn to accept the consequences resulting from those choices? Explain what kinds of consequences can result from a behavior and then let your child choose and experience

42 • Building Blocks • December 2009

the consequence (as long as you are sure that the choices and consequences are safe and healthy for your child). Present enough alternatives so that your child can choose a different outcome, making trial and error part of the learning process.


ulterior motive, while refraining ourselves from offering to help someone else without seeing a prospect for personal gain. Yet when an individual with special needs offers assistance, they are sincere, because they were taught that it is the right thing to do. When they see someone who is sad, crying or in pain, they react with no hesitation. The empathy behind their caring words and gestures are genuine. Finally, there is the love that is shown for family and friends without calculation or reservation, and that honest caring is a source of tremendous happiness, from a simple smile, or a kind word that you or I would never think twice about. The pleasure from receiving a gift

is based upon the good will behind it, rather than its monetary value. These are characteristics of innocence that we all once had as children and lost by the time we became adults. These individuals are not children and should never be treated as such, but they have retained these most endearing “childlike” qualities in their adult interactions with society. Over the years, I have seen many yeshiva children spend their chesed hours doing projects or singing and dancing with the students at a school for children with special needs. They clearly enjoyed their interaction, but what one of their yeshiva rebbeim told me was striking. “My students are learn-

ing more here today to build their midos and character than anything else they have done in yeshiva all year. The satisfaction

Their honesty and work ethic pervades how they interact with society in all aspects of their life. they are getting from the warm responses of these children with special needs is making a deep and lasting impression on my talmidim.” The best way to expose your own children to those precious

we believe in

your child

we know

that your kid has no limits

Special Education Services

qualities, which are so rare today, is to encourage them to join in the various communal activities and programs for children with special needs, including the Shabbatonim and volunteer opportunities sponsored by the organizations in our community. That is, perhaps, the only way they will be able to glimpse, and perhaps regain, the best of what we all have lost from our own innocent childhood. u Mr. Greenberg, a certified School Psychologist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor. He is a professor at the Touro College special education and mental health counseling programs. Mr. Greenberg also has a private practice and can be reached at 917-520-4738 or at kalmang@mac. com. He is a regular contributor and advisor to Building Blocks.

Multidisciplinary Evaluations • Physical/Medical • Psychological • Social History • Speech/Language Therapy • Occupational Therapy • Physical Therapy • Educational

• Special Education Itinerant Services (SEIT) • Bilingual evaluations and services are available

KIDS UNLIMITED PLLC 2310 65th Street Brooklyn, NY 11204

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P: 718-484-4802 F: 718-484-4803 December 2009 • Building Blocks • 43

EDUCATION By Rabbi Mayer Waxman

When There is No Jewish Program That’s Right for Your Child


rom the moment that parents learn their child has special needs, their life changes – not necessarily for the worse, or for the better, but from that moment on, their life will never be the same. Their own needs change, as do their responsibilities, their priorities, their expectations, their educational focus, and even their personal circle of social contact and support. Almost everything in their life is impacted, even their religious faith. For some people, the experience can shake their faith, but for others, the challenge of these new circumstances actually strengthens their connection to G-d and His Torah. They become living examples that HaShem does not give challenges to people, which they are not capable of withstanding and eventually overcoming. There are many examples of prominent rabbis, teachers, and community leaders who have faced the personal challenge of raising and caring for their own children who have special needs. The examples they set provide role models, encouragement and inspiration to us all. These leaders, as well as an essential cadre of truly empathetic families in our community, provide a tremendous resource and reservoir of emotional and spiritual support for families with children who have special needs. These individuals can share the lessons they have learned from parallel experiences in raising and caring for their own children, and they often have much sound advice to offer. But every family and care-giver eventually reaches the point where they must deal with their own set of 44 • Building Blocks • December 2009

circumstances independently of any support group or role model, and start to address the special needs of their child that are a reflection of that child’s uniqueness as an individual. That point can be particularly

different groups and subcommunities live side by side, while retaining their own distinguishing religious characteristics and practices. Many of these communities have also built up, over time, a

ish identity, which govern their choice of neighborhoods, synagogues, schools, clothes and friends. How does such a family, which has literally defined itself by its religious commitment, react in a situation where the

difficult when the best available treatment or educational response to the child’s special needs is inconsistent with the family’s religious lifestyle and preferences.

comprehensive set of support institutions, going far beyond their own shuls and yeshivos to include special education schools and programs to serve members of their community who have developmental disabilities, presented in an environment which is in accordance with their specific Orthodox practices and traditions. The listings in this magazine reflect the phenomenal breadth and depth of what is now available. Yet even in the boroughs and suburbs of New York City, the ideal educational and/or care program for a specific individual with special needs will not always be available in all of the various religious communities, or under other Orthodox auspices, or even from non-sectarian Jewish organizations and institutions. This can present a particularly painful choice for families who have built their lives around their specific Orthodox Jew-

program which offers the best physical care and/or education for their child’s unique requirements does not share, or, even worse, is incompatible with their religious milieu?

Community Differentiation

A noteworthy development in larger American Jewish communities is the emergence of a variety of virtually self-contained and self-sufficient subcommunities or neighborhoods which offer not just an Orthodox environment, but also a very distinct type of Orthodoxy. Examples include the Satmar communities in Williamsburg and Monroe, the Lubavitch community in Crown Heights, the communities which have grown up around the prominent yeshivos in Lakewood and Spring Valley, the modern Orthodox communities in the Five Towns and Teaneck, and densely populated religious neighborhoods such as Boro Park and Flatbush, in which

Difficult Choices

How do they go about choosing between the available options when none of them meets all of their child’s physical, educational and spiritual needs? This is one of those problems for which there are no easy answers. While it is natural for families in this situation to turn to their rabbis and religious leaders for guidance, there are no general guidelines available to tell them how to choose between their child’s developmental and spiritual needs, and whether to place their child in a program under religious or secular auspices. Each child and each family is unique, and there is no one “right answer” or approach applicable in every case. You won’t


find it in any book or Halacha sefer. You won’t even find it in the articles of this magazine. Ultimately, it is an individual choice, governed by the specific needs of the child and circumstances of the family. In such a situation, the family has to look at the big picture in order to determine, overall, the best interests of the child. Before making their decision, they need to objectively evaluate their child’s strengths and weaknesses, and weigh their child’s intellectual, emotional, social, physical and, yes, spiritual needs. The advice of their rabbis and their child’s therapists, teachers and care-givers can all be helpful, but the ultimate choice can only be made by the parents and family. The inescapable fact is that no single special education school or special needs program can meet the needs of all people with disabilities. Most tailor their approach to specific types of students. Some are geared to help students with learning disabilities. Others are designed for students on the autism spectrum. Some are for students with the intellectual capacity to learn practical vocational skills, while others are geared to help their students to acquire more basic independent daily living skills. Some of these schools and programs have the ability to address the needs of people with physical disabilities, while others do not. Because of the economics of scale, the largest American Jewish communities offer a much greater choice of programs with different specialties under religious auspices than do mid-size or smaller Jewish communities. For that reason, some religious families who have a child with disabilities will make the deci-

sion to move to a larger community in order to be able to enroll that child in a local program under religious auspices that is tailored to meet their child’s specific needs. But even in the Greater New York area there are some types of programs and services that are not yet available under Orthodox auspices, or under Jewish auspices at all. Even the programs under Orthodox auspices will differ significantly in the kind of religious environment they maintain, and the level of religious training that they offer. Some schools or programs separate genders, some don’t. Some schools or programs have a curriculum infused with davening, brachot, parsha study, focus on the holidays etc., some don’t. Sometimes a family will determine that the school or program which will provide their child with the best overall service is one that will not at all meet their child’s spiritual needs. But even after that choice, they are not forced to give up on their child’s spiritual education and development, or to abandon hope for their child’s religious future.

The Home Chinuch Option

Just because a child will not be attending a Jewish school or program does not necessarily mean that the child cannot receive a good Jewish education. Orthodox American Jews have grown accustomed to delegating most of their responsibility to provide their children with chinuch to our day schools and yeshivos. An oft forgotten fact is that many American-raised Gedolim of the last generation – and even today’s sages who grew up in isolated smaller and mid-sized Jewish communities, attended public school in their

younger years. Whether a child is in yeshiva or not, chinuch is still primarily parents’ personal responsibility. As spelled out in the Krias Shema that we say twice a day, “V’shinantam l’vanecha – and you shall teach [Torah] to your children.” Before there were day schools and yeshivos in this country, Jewish children were taught Yiddishkeit primarily in the home. For Jewish children with special needs who are not enrolled in programs under Orthodox auspices, the home Jewish learning experience again becomes all-important. Parents of such children often find that this added responsibility can be rewarding. When they are aware that they must set the daily example for their children for Torah study and good behavior, mitzvos and midos, the entire spiritual atmosphere in their home is likely to improve accordingly.

Creating the Right Home Environment

Home libraries – including books, magazines, music and videos – also need to be consistent with the Jewish educational goals and religious values that parents seek to impart in their child. Fortunately, there is a vast selection available today in all of these mediums that can be used both to teach a child specific Torah lessons, and to create a Torah-imbued Jewish background environment in the home. The Jewish community also has a key role to play in supplementing the religious education of a child who has special needs. Parents should bring the child to shul as often as possible, as well as to all family and community holiday and religious celebrations. There are also public events organized and

sponsored by religious organizations that are specifically designed for the participation of all Jewish children in the community who have special needs. The parents of a child who has special needs who is enrolled in a non-religious program should also reach out to their religious neighbors, and ask them to encourage their children who are around the same age to play together with their child who has special needs. The child who has special needs will pick up the influence of his or her religious playmates, while the religious children will develop a strong sense of responsibility and satisfaction from the mainstreaming experience. Everyone will benefit. It is sometimes a painful reality that selecting the right program for a child who has special needs will often entail choosing a school or program that is not under religiously compatible auspices. Nonetheless, this eventuality can and should become the start of a new effort to give that child chinuch, not the end. True, the process will be more challenging, and require more effort and creativity from the parents than if the child were being sent to a religious program or classroom each day, but it should never be used as an excuse by parents to abandon their responsibility to teach their child Torah and to give that child the Jewish heritage which is every Jewish child’s birthright. u Rabbi Mayer Waxman, a writer and licensed social worker holds a masters in psychology. He has worked in Jewish communal service for more than 15 years, including many years working with people who have developmental disabilities, and with their families. He is also an advisor to Building Blocks Magazine December 2009 • Building Blocks • 45

EDUCATION By Chaya Shandel Mandel and Kalman Greenberg

Dealing with Delays and Behavior Issues


n recent years, the community has made a great deal of progress, working with leading experts in the fields of physical and cognitive delays, in improving the educational services provided to our children, and the support available for parents. However, some recent questions have raised concerns that the needs of a certain group of children have yet to be addressed. One mother asked me for advice about her son who was experiencing behavior problems in school. At times the boy was physically aggressive, stole from friends and family, lied about even mundane events, and cursed at his teachers and rabbeim. He had been asked to leave a series of yeshivos, and was in danger of being thrown

out of yet another. Another mother was looking for help for a child with cognitive delays. Her daughter had always been cheerful and wellliked by her teachers. However, at about age 14, she started to become aggressive, striking out at her classmates and teachers and pulling her own hair. Her school was recommending that her mother find a different program for this girl, but so far they had not been able to find one. While we now have a wide variety of services under Jewish auspices for children with disabilities, services for children who also have behavioral issues are still very hard to find within our community. Most existing programs are not designed to work with students who can be aggressive to themselves and

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46 • Building Blocks • December 2009

others. There is a real concern that such students could jeopardize the safety of the other students, who often have medical issues that make them particularly sensitive to any injury that might occur. In addition, the standard training for the educational staff of existing programs is geared to overcoming physical, learning and cognitive challenges. Instructing children with severe behavioral issues requires classroom management techniques that are not widely taught in the graduate programs and professional seminars addressing the various types of special needs. Indeed, many educators who are experts in helping children with a specific kind of physical, learning or cognitive challenge quickly find themselves lost when dealing with a child who also acts out severely in the classroom. Much of the services our children receive were mandated un-

der the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which clearly establishes that every child with cognitive, physical, learning and behavioral issues is entitled to an education. Educational interventions for emotional disturbance are also covered under this mandate. Emotional Disturbance encompasses a variety of psychological issues than can cause aggressive behavior. These children may have difficulty in reading the nonverbal social cues that allow us to interpret what others are feeling. They easily misinterpret what others are saying, and can take the most casual comment made to them as an insult. There are a variety of effective treatments available for these children, both behavioral and medicinal. In a school, a daylong system of teaching proper behavior is recommended. The students are taught the unstated rules that most of us gad absorbed by the time we finished the first grade. They can be summarized in a few words respect (yourself and others), be responsible for your actions, and be safe. This is easily said, but not so simple to teach to children who have difficulty in understanding nonverbal social cues. They are given charts that explicitly state the rules that can guide their behavior for every part of the school day. This includes class rules- how and when to raise your hand to speak, when is it proper to leave the classroom, and to keep your hands to yourself. Additional rules include walking on the right side of the hallway at a walking pace and keeping noise at a minimum.


This might seem self-evident to us, but it is not to these children, who need to learn these rules, among others. Children are also taught how to deal with stress in a nonaggressive fashion, and to ask others for help when they need it. Again, this behavior comes naturally to many of us, but for these students, a lot of work is required to learn these behaviors. Sometimes, the problems of children in a special needs program who exhibit aggressive or disruptive behavior can be resolved by means other than expulsion. In the example of the 14-year-old girl cited above, her behavior may be due to the hormonal changes of puberty, which may be temporary, or which might be moderated by an appropriate treatment regi-

men to the point that it would be safe to allow her to return to class. This is an example of a case in which it is necessary for parents to consult a psychiatrist or, in some cases, a neurologist who is familiar with the issues the child is experiencing. This doctor should be flexible in his/her treatment regimen, which may include the use of psychotropic medication to help insure the safety of the child or those around them. The chances for successful treatment are maximized when the family, school professionals and doctor are working together. Not only should the doctor take the time to listen to your concerns, it is particularly important that he listen to reports and concerns about the child’s behavior from


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the school as well. In summation, learning how to help students with serious behavior issues is one of the major unmet challenges which today confronts our community’s schools for children with special needs. Rather than throwing up their hands and asking their parents to take these children somewhere else, these schools can help many of them by increasing the professional knowledge of their educational staff, and by cooperating with other professionals and the child’s family. However, for many such children, even that approach will not suffice. Their behavior issues require a more structured and highly trained program than is currently being offered, and until such programs are created, the educational needs

of these children will continue to go unmet by our community schools. u Mr. Greenberg, a certified School Psychologist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor is a regular contributor to Building Blocks. He is a professor at the Touro College special education and mental health counseling programs. Mr. Greenberg also has a private practice and can be reached at 917-520-4738 or at kalmang@ Chaya Shandel Mandel has been a member of the staff of HASC for the past 25 years. During that time, she has taught every age group from birth through 21. She is currently the Program Director at HASC’s School Age program, located at 6220 14th Avenue, in Boro Park, Brooklyn. For information, call: (718) 331-1624.

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DIAGNOSIS By Joshua Weinstein, MA.Ed, MBA


The Asperger’s Conundrum Too Smart for the Services Needed

sperger Syndrome (also known as AS, or the more common shorthand Asperger’s) is one of the five pervasive developmental disorders. It is, also, commonly referred to as a form of high-functioning autism. Broadly speaking, people with Asperger’s have normal or above average intellectual capabilities. They also have uncommon or relatively under developed social skills. In addition, their emotional/social development or integration occurs later than usual. Some of the most definitive characteristics of Asperger Syndrome include: social impairments, narrow but intense interests, and speech and language peculiarities. People with Asperger Syndrome often encounter problems in social interaction with their peers, which can be especially severe in childhood and adolescence. Children with Asperger Syndrome may be subjected to bullying at school because of their idiosyncratic behavior, language and interests, as well as their reduced or delayed ability to perceive and respond in socially acceptable ways to nonverbal cues. As a result, a child or teen with Asperger Syndrome who becomes involved in an interpersonal conflict often is puzzled as to how and why the situation came about. Asperger’s is defined as qualitative impairment in social interaction. It is diagnosed as the result of observing at least two of the following types of problems: noticeable impairments in the use of typical nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to manage social interaction; failure to develop age-appropriate peer relationships; and a failure to spontane48 • Building Blocks • December 2009

ously seek to share enjoyment. Asperger’s is now considered to be one of the loosely related family of neurological disorders known as the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). This is a result of the definition of autism having changed from a specific and narrowly defined condition to a broader and more complex

males than females, with males making up approximately 75-80 percent of diagnoses. The frequency of Asperger’s, however, depends on how closely you apply the accepted definitions. A 1993 population study carried out in Sweden found that, at a minimum, 3.6 per 1000 school-aged children

syndrome, or family of conditions. As a result, most experts now say that autism, instead of representing a single condition, is a collection of disorders which together make up the autism spectrum. However some in the autism community challenge the usefulness of referring to these conditions as occupying unique places on a spectrum. They consider the differences in development to be simply a function of differences in skill accomplishment, and believe that assigning them distinctive characteristics rather than treating them as varying degrees of severity of the same underlying condition may be seriously misleading. Like other conditions classified as autism spectrum disorders, Asperger Syndrome appears to be more prevalent among

definitely meet the criteria for Asperger Syndrome. However, if you count all the borderline cases, the frequency almost double, to become 7.1 per 1000 (Ehlers & Gillberg).

Inconsistent Skill Levels

Case studies of people with Asperger Syndrome are replete with examples of “conundrum kids,” such as the superb writer who can’t add, and the talented speechmaker who can’t write legibly. These intellectual inconsistencies pose a real challenge to the parents trying to decide when the young child should start school, and teachers who must then try to cope with the wide range in the child’s scholastic skill levels. Temple Grandin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Colorado State University, is one of the most

prominent individuals who has achieved success despite autism, and who has become a popular spokesperson for such individuals. She writes that she has become troubled that intellectually gifted children are being deprived of opportunities because they are being labeled with either Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism. “One mother called me and was very upset that her six-year-old son had Asperger’s. She then went on to tell me that his IQ was 150. I replied that before people knew about Asperger’s Syndrome; their child would have received a very positive label of intellectually gifted,” Grandin wrote. She also cites a case where she was consulted by the parents of a teenager with Asperger Syndrome who were so concerned about their son’s poor social skills that they would not allow him to take computer programming. Grandin disagreed, and advised the parents to allow him to embark on a challenging career in computers for two reasons. First, by denying him his chosen career, they would make his life miserable. Second, it was likely that his shared interest in computers would result in improving his social communication with other young people in the field.

Finding Acceptance as a Geek

Teenagers diagnosed with high functioning autism and Asperger Syndrome often become uninterested with school and act up. They need mentors who can teach them a field that will engage them intellectually while offering them career opportunities for their future. Computer technology is perfect for them because there is greater level of social acceptance for

DIAGNOSIS a “computer geek.� Regardless of their social skills, a computer programmer with an ASD can still achieve success in the field based entirely upon his/her professional talents. This is an important consideration, because in other fields autistic individuals are often required to excel in order to overcome their social deficits and receive proper recognition for their abilities. The classification of Asperger Syndrome as an ASD comes with both advantages and disadvantages. In the adult world, some of those diagnosed with Asperger’s have become successful in their fields, possibly as a direct result of the aboveaverage focus and motivation related to the syndrome, while others find themselves to be more incapacitated by the condition.

The Need to Look Past the Label

In schools, however, an Asperger’s diagnosis can be a real liability if the label prevents an exceptionally smart child from entering programs for talented and gifted children, or receiving the remedial services that they need. Educators need to allow these kids to participate in programs that best match their intellectual capabilities and better prepare them for adult careers for which they are well-suited, such as computer programming, where they can do rewarding work. In her book, Thinking in Pictures, Grandin dedicates a whole section to the connection between intellectual gifts and creativity to abnormality. She notes that Albert Einstein had many


autistic traits. He did not learn to speak until he was three, and wasn’t at all concerned about his appearance. Other geniuses who exhibited characteristics we now identify with Aspergers Syndrome include Sir Isaac Newton and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The words used to classify their child’s condition can also have an emotional impact on parents. Some are more capable of dealing with the thought that their child has a semantic pragmatic language disorder rather than accept the label of high functioning autism, while others find the first, more technical description, simply baffling. Providing the needed resources is one more problem for the parents of high functioning autistic children. These children are sometimes denied the

kind of educational language requirements they very much need, only because of the word “autism� which is associated with them. The best answer is to educate those educators to disregard the obsolete stereotypes about autism, look past the label and see the child. u Joshua Weinstein, M. Ed. Admin., MBA Founder & President of Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices, iCARE4autism – International Center for Autism Research and Education and Tishma – ABA School and Center for Children with Autism, Jerusalem, Israel. He has been an educator and administrator for more than four decades both in the public and private school systems. He holds two Masters Degrees in Educational Administration and Supervision and an MBA in executive administration.

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December 2009 • Building Blocks • 49

DIAGNOSIS By Stephen Glicksman, Ph.D.



typically developed human brain has lots of grooves, called “sulci,” and ridges, called “gyri.” They are caused by the brain folding over itself, so that it can fit into the comparatively small area inside your skull. It has been compared to the way that amusement park lines are set up to wrap back and forth so that more people can wait in a smaller space to get on a favorite ride. Functionally, the grooves and ridges provide the brain with more surface area, giving it more room to store information, more compartments to hold complex knowledge, and more opportunities for different parts of the brain to communicate with each other. Sometimes, a child is born with a brain that is missing these

grooves and ridges. This condition is called Lissencephaly, which literally means, “smooth brain.” When this happens, the brain has less surface area, and hence less space and capacity to store and use information than a typically developed brain. Lissencephaly can sometimes be a unique diagnosis, unconnected to any other condition, (also known as “Isolated Lissencephaly Sequence). It can also be just one characteristic of a broader condition which includes hear, kidney and digestive problems (Miller-Dieker Syndrome), or it can be tied to eye abnormalities and muscular dystrophy (Walker-Warburg syndrome). Sometimes, the condition is caused by the mother contracting a virus during pregnancy,

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or a gene passed down from either one or both parents. And, sometimes it is caused by a new genetic mutation developing spontaneously during pregnancy. Many children born with Lissencephaly fail to develop and die early in life. Others that I have worked with are living into their teens and, with G-d’s help, still going strong. Most children with Lissencephaly have profound intellectual disabilities, although some have been reported to learn to walk and speak, and to have normal or near-normal intelligence. Most children with Lissencephaly will have seizures, and many develop problems that will require the installation of a feeding tube. An MRI brain scan is the best way available today to diagnose Lissencephaly. Two pathologists, Drs. Culp and Erhard, first described Lissencephaly in 1914. At that time, there was no effective treatment available. Today, there is

still no cure for Lissencephaly, but there are a variety of options available to treat its symptoms and improve quality of live. Medications can control the seizures and other related medical conditions. Therapies can help to develop affected motor and adaptive skills. Special education can enhance cognitive abilities. As a result, the families of people with Lissencephaly are discovering that, with love, proper care and appropriate interventions, those with this condition can live longer and much more satisfying lives. For more information on Lissencephaly, contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at 800-999-NORD (6673). u Stephen Glicksman, Ph.D. is a developmental psychologist at Women’s League Community Residences, a lifespan social services organization meeting the needs of children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families. For more information on Women’s League’s wide array of services, please call 718-853-0900.

DIAGNOSIS By “Doc Jon” Michnovicz

The Unique Challenges of Caring for the Disabled


et us pose a simple question: Is the practice of medicine different for people who are developmentally disabled? Before answering the question, let me relate the following story. During my first year of medical residency, I went to see a new patient who had been admitted for a kidney ailment. As I entered the hospital room, I couldn’t, at first, find the patient. Then I noticed that the bathroom door was ajar, and found my patient, Jimmy, with his mouth under the sink faucet guzzling water like a man dying of thirst in the desert. A young aide worker explained the situation to me. “Jimmy does this all the time at the group home. He is always drinking water, no matter where he finds it – in the toilet bowl, sink, backyard hose, whatever.” Jimmy would be brought to the hospital every so often, when his kidneys could no longer process all that water, and his body was in danger from salt depletion. In all my previous training, I had never before encountered a patient like Jimmy. I knew how the kidneys worked, how blood pressure and electrolyte balance are regulated, and how various medicines can be used in these cases. Yet, I had never thought that I would encounter a patient who felt compelled to drink ordinary water to the point where his whole system was turned inside out. Since then, I have spent over twenty years providing primary care for thousands of disabled children and adults, and on the basis of that experience, I believe the answer to our question is an emphatic YES! – medical care for the developmentally disabled poses unique challenges found nowhere else in the practice of medicine. These challenges can be summarized as follows. Disabled people have unique medical conditions. Jimmy has a rare condition, termed psychogenic polydipsia, yet in my clinics I have seen it numerous times. People with Down syndrome

occasionally have a malformed bone in their upper spine, which makes them prone to breaking their neck due to a simple fall. These patients also frequently develop a thyroid problem or a heart murmur at some point in their life. For a doctor who has treated many patients with disabilities, finding these conditions is no cause for surprise. Take another example: some kids with tuberous sclerosis, a congenital disorder linked to mental retardation, might suddenly experience a seizure as a young adult. Imagine how frightening this can be to their families, unless their doctor has explained this tendency to the parents ahead of time. Disabled people have unusual forms of common illnesses. There are many variations of this phenomenon. Nearly everyone who is confined a wheelchair is prone to constipation. Doctors who regularly see such patients recognize the risk and treat them for it, thereby preventing future instances of fecal impaction and colon perforation. People with cerebral palsy are at very high risk for osteoporosis. Their families need to know this in order to safeguard them against life-threatening fractures. I know of one patient who suffered a seemingly innocuous bump on the head who was diagnosed the next day in the ER with a complete hip fracture. Some children prone to seizures take medications for years that are known to adversely affect their gums. They need active dental care to address the risk of tooth loss. Disabled people have unique ways of providing information. Our patients are often unable to provide medical information directly. They may be non-verbal; their speech may be rambling or severely dysarthric (difficult to understand due to disturbed muscular control); they may be mentally retarded and unable to describe what they are feeling. A physician trained in develop-

mental medicine will soon learn how to seek the vital information he needs to treat this patient elsewhere. This may mean relying on a parent, nurse, or group home staff member to provide key pieces of the puzzle. Often, only one particular person is able to communicate with the patient, and the clinician needs to recognize this and use this person for the patient’s benefit. It is also common in dealing with these kinds of patients to have a parent or nurse tell us, “Doctor, he’s not crying out because of pain. He’s just excited, and acting that way because he has never met you before. When he is hurting, he sounds completely different.” That is why my advice to parents and caregivers for individuals with developmental disabilities is to seek medical care for them in a facility or clinic that specializes in

treating such patients. The members of the medical staff in such facilities have likely seen similar cases before, and will have lots of helpful advice to prepare you for the more unusual medical problem your child is likely to encounter. Most importantly, that clinician will understand the unique beauty of your child, and be prepared to take the extra time needed to get to know him or her, to provide the medical care that is needed. u

“Dr. Jon”, as he is known, is one of the Primary Care Physicians at the Blanche Kahn Family Health Center in Brooklyn. Trained in Internal Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in NYC, Dr Jon has earned a sterling reputation in serving the medical needs of the developmentally disabled population for over the past 20 years and has been affiliated with many of the leading organizations servicing people with special needs.


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December 2009 • Building Blocks • 51

DIAGNOSIS By Dana Ledereich, MA OTR/L

The Implications of Torticollis for Sensory Processing


enjy is an eight-year-old boy who has been in resource room since the first grade. A charming little boy with a gentle smile, he captures the hearts of all his teachers. However, Benjy tends to be clumsy, poor at sports, and stands too close when talking to his peers. He has poor handwriting skills and is reading below his grade level in Hebrew and English. An occupational therapy evaluation took place in Benjy’s home. His parents were asked about Benjy’s behavior as a baby, including his nursing habits, his tolerance for “tummy time” and how long it took him to meet his gross motor milestones. The evaluator noticed Benjy’s baby pictures in the living room showed him cocking his head slightly to the left. When the evaluator questioned his parents about it they said that they had noticed it too but were told at the time to leave it alone. The evaluator concluded that Benjy was suffering from the residual effects of an untreated muscular condition known as torticollis, in which the head is tilted to one side and turned in the opposite direction. In infants, it most commonly results from the baby’s position in the uterus causing the sternocleidomastoid muscle to be in a shortened position. While the physical manifestations of torticollis are sometimes obvious to the eye, in other cases the mother first becomes aware of it when her baby shows a strong preference to nurse on one side. Most mild cases will respond to treatment, in consultation with a therapist, consisting of stretching the muscle and proper positioning of the baby. Left untreated, torticollis may result in the flatten52 • Building Blocks • December 2009

ing of one side of the skull (plagiocephaly). Even in mild cases such as Benjy’s, it can cause sensory processing, gross motor and fine motor delays.

parts of the body that detect a specific type of stimulus. The body’s nervous system registers the stimulus, processes it and then uses the information

from the stove to avoid bumping into the counter or knocking over the stroller. If a child is hypersensitive (over sensitive) or hyposensitive

Sensory Processing is composed of three stages: a) sensory registration b) sensory modulation and c) sensory integration of the body’s seven primary sensory systems which are: 1. Tactile (touch) 2. Proprioception (position in space) 3. Vestibular (sense of movement) 4. Visual (seeing) 5. Auditory (hearing) 6. Olfactory (smell) 7. Gustatory (taste) Each of these sensory systems has receptors located in various

to direct movement and behavior. For example, when a child touches a hot stove, the tactile receptors on his hand register the stimulus, in this case heat. Next, his brain interprets the stimulus as a danger signal and executes a reflexive response, namely, taking his hand off the stove. However, the child’s brain does not register a stimulus in isolation. If, in addition to the heat of the stove, the child is also aware that he is standing just in front of a kitchen counter and next to a stroller, his brain will control the movement of his hand when he pulls it away

(under sensitive) to any sensory system, it can impair his brain’s ability to plan a correct behavior or action. Sometimes, the results are minor. For example, a hypersensitive child may become a picky eater, showing a strong preference for bland foods. In other cases, hypersensitivity to various stimuli can affect a child’s overall behavior, leading to more serious problems in the classroom and/or at home. By stimulating the proprioception and vestibular senses during normal play in a park, young children learn how to control their bodies by devel-


oping balance and coordination. But this learning begins at a much earlier stage in a child’s development. From the day he is born, as we gently rock a baby to soothe him, we are stimulating his vestibular system. And as we provide an infant with tummy time we are enabling him/her to stimulate his proprioceptive receptors. These are the beginnings of sensory development. A child suffering from torticollis will have his head tilted and rotated. Often this results in a preference for one side of the body and unequal strength between the muscles on the right and left sides. As a result, the child will have difficulty meeting gross motor milestones. The body’s vestibular system (sense of movement) is based on head position detected by the receptors located in the inner ear and eye. The child whose head is incorrectly positioned due to torticollis will have misinformation transmitted to his vestibular system. This will lead the baby to develop a strong preference for one side over the other, vestibular processing delays, gross and fine motor delays, and ultimately difficulty with coordinating the activities of the two sides of the body such as rolling, crawling, walking, jumping, clapping hands, using eating utensils, coloring and cutting with scissors. Untreated torticollis can also cause difficulties for the child in school. Reading requires that a child use both eyes together and read across a page (through the midline). If the torticollis has resulted in a bilateral integration problem, it can cause the child to have difficulty learning how to read. When detected in the first few months of life, torticolllis can

usually be successfully treated. However, if treatment is delayed the initial head tilt of torticollis can lead to problems that may linger well into a child’s formative years. The distorted sensory information being transmitted to the brain can cause fine motor, gross motor and learning problems. But even at this later stage, these delays respond to therapeutic intervention from an occupational therapist. Benjy continued working in the resource room, and after receiving occupational therapy twice a week, was able to improve his reading skills to grade level. In addition, Benjy no longer bumps into peers or furniture, and he is even doing better at sports. While he is still not the first kid to be picked when his classmates choose up sides for teams, his friends now like playing with him more. They enjoy his sense of humor and his mischievous streak. The effects of torticollis demonstrate the amazingly intricate interactions between all of the body’s parts. It demonstrates the importance of proper early intervention. By correcting what is usually a minor muscular imbalance, we can prevent the development of more serious problems at a later stage. But even at the later stage, a thorough evaluation conducted by an occupational therapist can uncover the root of the problems and correct them. u Dana Ledereich, MA OTR/L has been working as a pediatric occupational therapist for over 10 years. She works in the yeshiva school system and maintains a private practice for after school hours and treats children age birth to 13 with various issues including orthopedic, developmental, neurological and sensory processing delays. She has also lectured on Sensory Integration as it relates to pediatric development.

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 53

TREATMENT By Malkie Adler, MS, CCC/SLP and Linda Rosenfeld, MS, OTR/L


Visual Supports for Children with Disabilities: Adaptations to the Home Environment

ll of us rely on visual supports to get us through our daily routines. They can be as small as a watch, as large as a landmark building or as common as a food-shopping list. They help to keep us focused and stay on task, and they are even more crucial to children and young adults with disabilities in helping them to communicate, express themselves, and live their daily lives as independently as possible. Here are some real-life examples of how children and young adults with disabilities use visual supports. Soome identifying details and names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.


“I see a ball up on a high shelf. How can you help me tell you that I want it?” People can communicate in many ways, and children who are unable to communicate using oral speech can still be effective and efficient communicators. Sometimes the communication can be very subtle, such as when a child focuses on a desired object for a longer period of time than a non-desired object. Children who are un-

to convey a message. Some of these modes of communication involve the use of gestures, sign, facial expressions, objects, symbols, photographs, written words, communication books or a speech generating device (SGD). An effective system includes multi-modal methods of

affixed to a child’s walker. A child who wishes to communicate that he wants to play with a ball can use a sign or gesture, look toward the ball or use a picture of a ball on a communication board. Remember, it takes two to communicate, so the child will always need a partner to communicate with and to model appropriate communicative interactions from.


Sample Page from a Communication Book

communication. For example, a child may sign for more, use an SGD to request, and indicate no using a facial expression. Children should be encouraged to use any/or all means in order to communicate at any given time. There is no single method that is better than another. To improve a child’s communication at home, and engineer the home environment, the school-based and home-based speech-language pathologists must work together. For example, if a child has learned the

Visual schedules help us to get through our daily routines, remember important dates, and allow us to know what to expect at any given time. We use visual schedules like a personal planner, or desk calendar on a daily basis. Schedules can similarly help children and adults with disabilities to organize and manage their day. They can be created by writing a list, using pictures, symbols, or actual objects. “It’s Sunday morning and I have so many things to do that I don’t know what to do first. What can I do to help organize my day?” Allowing a child with a disability to participate in setting up his schedule gives him the opportunity to choose activities that will be part of his daily rou-

Example of a Task Strip

able to communicate using oral speech, can use various forms of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) to communicate. AAC is any mode of communication that does not involve oral speech and is used 54 • Building Blocks • December 2009

choice e.g. taking medication, or going to school, but he can still be given a choice as to who will give him his medication or help him get ready for school. For a

meaning of symbols, a symbol he recognizes as representing the kitchen can be placed on the door to the kitchen. Likewise, symbols that the child knows represent various actions (e.g., walk, go, stop, turn) can be

tine. A visual schedule will let him know what will be expected of him throughout the day, as it will act as a visual reminder for him. . There are certain aspects of a child’s day where it may not be realistic for him to make a

Example of a Visual Schedule

child who cannot write and may not yet be at the level of understanding symbols or pictures, a visual schedule can be created using actual items (e.g., a spoon to represent mealtime, a paintbrush to represent an art activity). Taking pictures of the activities or using symbols that represent the activities that the child will be involved in can also be used. Visual schedules can be affixed to a wall in a central location of the house, or carried around by the child in a book for convenient reference. As each task is completed, the picture, symbol, or object can be placed in a separate section marked finished, or just checked off. Visual schedules eliminate


the element of surprise as the child goes through his day, and makes transitioning between

activities easier, because the child knows what to expect. This should help to reduce the childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s anxiety while keeping everyone involved with the child organized. Rachel is a non-verbal, ambulatory 12-year-old girl. She resides in a group home and loves to read books, listen to music, and play

video games with the Wii. To communicate, Rachel uses facial expressions, gestures, sign language, an SGD, as well as a limited number of vocalizations. When Rachel gets home from school she creates a picture schedule for herself with the help of her counselors. One day, after coming home and Symbols to Promote Choice Making of Colors eating dinner, she changed her mind about the next At first Rachel became upset, activity on her picture schedule, but then she realized that she all which was reading a book. She she needed to do was to let her decided that she wanted to play a counselors know what she wantgame on the Wii instead. ed. She was not sure how to de-


scribe the Wii using her SGD. Since the Wii was not visible, she could not point to it and she did not know the sign for it. She did however have a photograph of the Wii that was part of her picture schedule. Rachel took her counselor by the hand, brought her over to the schedule, took the symbol for the Wii and then placed it next on the schedule. Her counselor then understood what Rachel wanted, and complied with her request to change her activity, putting Rachel in a good mood for the rest of the evening.

Choice Making

The ability to make choices allows children with disabilities to exercise greater independence and increased control over their Continues on Page 58

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56 • Building Blocks • December 2009

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 57

TREATMENT Adler and Rosenfeld Continued from Page 55

environment. “Everyone in my family is making decorations for the sukkah. I am sitting in my wheelchair and watching them. How can I participate?” It is important to give children with disabilities every opportunity to make choices when participating in various activities using the methods that work best for them. These methods include using eye gaze, touching or swiping at an object, pointing to a symbol or picture representing their choice, and/ or vocalizing. For example, when dressing in the morning, a choice of two different shirts can be held in front of a child, and he can make his choice by touching the desired shirt, looking at it, or verbalizing. Similarly, when doing an art project for the sukkah, two different colored paint bottles can be held up and the child can indicate his choice via eye gaze, touching one of the bottles or vocalizing. If the child understands the use of symbols, a board with a choice of colors can be provided, or created using a computer program. Even if the child is not able to physically point to the desired color, they may have other ways to indicate a choice, e.g., through a yes/no response, smiling or vocalizing. Activities of Daily


Activities of daily living (ADLs) are activities that one is involved with as part of a daily routine. They may be as simple as washing hands and brushing teeth or as complex as doing the laundry or preparing a meal. “I got my hands dirty when I was eating dinner. I now need to wash my hands and I want to do it by myself but it is difficult for me. I don’t know where to start. How can I learn to be more inde58 • Building Blocks • December 2009

pendent in this area?” Activities of daily living can be modified or adapted so that people with disabilities can be as independent as possible. The

successfully. Other visual supports, such as checklists, symbols, and/ or actual objects, can be used modify an ADL and guide a

Sample Communication Board

ADL can be broken down into steps, objects, pictures, and/ or symbols representing each part of the activity, which can be assembled into a task strip. For example, when sequencing the ADL of hand washing at the sink, a task strip can be created to visually break down the activity into simple steps, i.e., turn on water, take soap, wash hands, turn off water, take towel, dry hands, put in garbage. A task strip for any ADL can be as simple or as complex as necessary. These task strips act as visual cues or reminders to help the child complete the task. The task strip also encourages consistency. The language on the task strips does not change, and therefore, the child will learn to complete the task the same way each time, regardless of who is helping him. This will help the child to learn the proper sequence of steps to complete it

child through a task. Any ADL can be broken down or built up to meet a child’s needs and help to make him as independent as possible. The following anecdote illustrates how an ADL can be modified through the use of a checklist as a visual support. Ezra is a 19-year-old boy who is ambulatory and verbal. He tries to be helpful around the house, and has gotten his parents’ permission to learn how to do his own laundry. However, when he first tried to do it, Ezra became overwhelmed with all the directions and lost his focus on the task. His parents helped him by breaking the task down into two separate parts, each with its own list of tasks. The first list told Ezra all of the things he would need in order to do his laundry. The second list contained the exact steps he would need to follow. The lists were then laminated so that Ezra could check off each step with a

wipe off marker. This has allowed Ezra to do most of his laundry by himself and be successful. The proper use of a visual supports system requires prior consultation with the child’s speech-language pathologist or occupational therapist. It is important that the school and home teams work together to meet the child’s needs. The use of a visual system takes time to create and learn for both the caregiver and the child who will be using the system. Consistency across all environments is fundamental to success. Through the use of visual supports (symbols, pictures, lists etc.), providing choices, using different modes of communication, and modifying ADLs, children with disabilities can become more effective communicators and can participate in daily activities to the bet of their abilities. u Malkie Adler, M.S., CCC/SLP, TSSLD is a licensed speech and language pathologist who works in a schoolbased program and in an Ohel Bais Ezra residential program with children with varying disabilities using augmentative and alternative communication.

Linda Rosenfeld, M.S., OTR/L is a licensed pediatric occupational therapist who works in a schoolbased program and in an Ohel Bais Ezra residential program. She works with children who have physical and/ or cognitive limitations to improve their performance in daily living and school-based tasks. OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services, which incorporates Bais Ezra and The Lifetime Care Foundation, provides programs and services for individuals and families at risk, and individuals with developmental or psychiatric disabilities, in both residential and out-patient settings. OHEL’s professional services are available throughout New York, New Jersey and South Florida. For more information, please call 718-851-6300 or visit

TREATMENT By Tuvia Marciano

Protecting Your Child During Flu Season


pproximately 138 pediatric deaths have been reported since the start of the 2009-2010 flu season. Most of these deaths have been attributed to the new H1N1 strain of the flu. In a typical flu season there are 226,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths in the US. Most of these deaths traditionally occur among the elderly and sick. This year’s new flu strain, which is also known as the swine flu, is expected to result in more hospitalizations and deaths than usual. That is because H1N1 is a strain of flu that has not been found in humans before, making the population more susceptible since no immunity exists to this virus. In 1918, a strain similar to H1N1 resulted in the Spanish flu pandemic, which caused an estimated 50 million deaths worldwide. The H1N1 flu virus is in addition to the normal seasonal flu we see each year. People with special needs are inherently no more vulnerable to H1N1 virus or the normal annual seasonal flu virus than the rest of the population. However, they may be more susceptible to complications from the flu such as pneumonia. Those who are responsible for their care should be especially vigilant in observing standard precautions, such as good hand washing technique, to avoid contracting or spreading either form of the flu virus, and inadvertently infecting those in their care. Complications of the flu include pneumonia and respiratory failure, which can lead to death, particularly in cases caused by the swine flu. Surprisingly, the risk of young people developing serious complications from the H1N1 strain of the flu is greater than for people over the age of 65. The reason for this added risk to young people is not well understood. The flu is spread when people cough or sneeze into the air and other people breath in the virus.

It can also be spread when a person touches a surface that contains the virus and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes, or by direct person to person contact such as when taking care of an ill child.

People should avoid coming into contact or close proximity with anyone showing flu symptoms, such as coughing or sneezing. When in public places, avoid touching any surfaces which people carrying the flu virus might have infected by touching them with their hands, such as door knobs or shopping baskets. During flu season, it is generally good practice to wash your hands with soap and water frequently, especially before touching your eyes, nose or mouth. These precautions apply particularly to caregivers. The flu is a diagnosis that can usually be made by a doctor based on patient history and a physical exam. Symptoms of the flu include fever greater than 100.4, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, chills, muscle aches, diarrhea and vomiting. Those already infected with the virus can avoid spreading it to others by covering their nose and mouth when they sneeze or cough. They should also wash their hands with soap and water for 15-20 seconds, otherwise, they risk depositing the flu virus on any surface their hands touch. Those who are sick with the flu should stay home from work or school for at least

48 hours after their symptoms have resolved. The vast majority of people who get either form of the flu should recover without requiring medical care or special antiviral medication. Medication is recommended for children under the age of 5, especially those children under the age of 2, or adults over the age of 65. It is also recommended for people with chronic lung disease, such as asthma. Patients with additional risk factors, such as kidney disease, liver disease, neuromuscular disease, blood disorders, and diabetes, may also be eligible for antiviral treatment. Patients with a weakened immune system should speak with their doctor about treatment. Others who are at risk for developing more severe cases of flu include pregnant women; adolescents on aspirin therapy and residents of long term care facilities, including group homes for those with developmental disabilities. Those who have a chronic illness and are living in the same household with a flu patient should speak to their doctor about ways to prevent them from contracting the flu, including the use of antiviral medication. Two medications, which are indicated for the treatment and prevention of the flu, are Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir). Tamiflu has been granted special permission to be prescribed in children less than 1 year of age and is available in a liquid form. These medications have been known to cause side effects that should be discussed with your physician.

It is important to drink plenty of liquids and to stay well hydrated when sick with the flu. Fevers and body aches can be treated with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Aspirin should never be given to a child with suspected flu as it can result in a severe liver disorder known as Reye’s syndrome. The flu vaccine is currently recommended for children between the ages of six months and 18 years of age and adults older than 50. Adults who suffer from chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, seizures, asthma or any other disease of the lungs should also receive the vaccine. If you have a weakened immune system you should ask your physician for the killed vaccine and not the live vaccine. People who are candidates for the vaccine should receive both the seasonal flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine. Parents of a child who is younger than 3 months of age should immediately call the doctor if their child comes down with a fever. Other reasons to contact your physician are if your child is sick and has a serious chronic health condition, including lung or heart problems, asthma, diabetes, kidney problems, a weakened immune system, or a serious neurologic or neuromuscular condition. Because serious complications from the H1N1 strain can come on very quickly, parents should seek immediate medical attention if their child is more sleepy than usual, not waking up, has little or no energy to keep up with daily activities, is not drinking enough fluids to make urine, shows difficulty breathing, or is irritable and cannot be comforted. u Tuvia Marciano is a pediatric gastroenterologist in Long Island, New York. His practice is accustomed to caring for children with special needs and chronic medical conditions. He is available for consultation by calling 516-663-4939. December 2009 • Building Blocks • 59

TREATMENT By Sheryl Mayer, MS RD

Can Diet Help Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders?


hildren with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are vulnerable to nutrition problems such as vitamin deficiencies, food sensitivities/intolerances, digestive disorders and feeding problems. Using nutrition therapy for a child with special needs can be complicated. Parents often hear about special diets from friends, the Internet and other non-medical sources, but they need guidance from professionals to help them make informed dietary decisions for their special needs child. Improving a child’s nutritional status can influence how they progress in their speech, occupational, and other therapies. There are several special diets whose effects have been studied. The GFCF (Gluten free, Casein free) diet, in particular, has gotten the most attention recently. It eliminates all gluten (which is found in wheat, barley, rye and oats) and all casein (found in dairy products). Variations of the diet will also remove soy from the child’s diet. It is a difficult diet to follow because gluten is found in so many foods. Esther had come to me to help her 8-year-old autistic son by putting him son on the GFCF diet. I gave her recipe and meal suggestions, and made sure her son was getting enough nutrients. At a six-month follow up session, Esther told me that her son had been transformed from being severely autistic to being more interactive. He went from not speaking at all to engaging in spontaneous speech and his blank stares and rigid expressions had also decreased. She saw her son transform. Her son’s favorite food is French toast (bread made from rice flour), pure maple syrup and home60 • Building Blocks • December 2009

made applesauce. Although maintaining the diet is a lot of work for her, Esther believes that, because of it, “I have finally been able to connect with my son.” One theory to explain why this diet works suggests that some people on the autism spectrum are unable to properly digest these specific proteins, namely gluten and casein, and the substances produced by their attempts to digest these proteins adversely affect their behavior and brain function. A research study carried out at the UCLA Medical Center showed that gluten and casein increase certain antibodies when consumed by children with ASD that may create an autoimmune reaction, which, in turn, has a negative effect on the brain. According to the Autism Research Institute, a survey was

Tips to get picky eaters to try new foods: 1. Always provide a food child likes along with the “new” food. 2. Offer only one new food at a time. 3. Serve the new food to everyone at the table. 4. Involve your child in the preparation of the “new” food. 5. Give the child a small taste -- just 1 tsp, or let the child determine the amount. 6. Don’t give up. Food refusal is normal! Just try again the next day. A child sometimes needs to be exposed to a new food 15 times before deciding they like it. 7. Avoid showing frustration and anxiety during mealtime. Children sense anxiety, and may come to associate it with mealtime. …Mayer

conducted with 2500 parents of special needs kids who tried various diets. The results of the study indicated that 66% of the children who maintained a strict GFCF diet showed improvement. However, several other research studies found no significant results from the same diet. As a result, the effectiveness of this diet is not yet considered proven by the scientific community, despite anecdotal evidence, like the story of Esther and her 8-year-old son. Can this diet help kids with ASD? Perhaps. It depends on who you ask. The final answer is not yet in, at least according to the standards of medical science. As a dietitian, I can tell you what I know for sure: A well rounded diet, including fruits, vegetables, good quality protein and complex carbohydrates is important for all children. If the child is a picky eater, a nutritionist can evaluate the child’s daily food intake and recommend changes to make sure that no necessary vitamins are missing. These nutrition recommendations are beneficial for the whole family, but especially for children on the autism spectrum: 1. I highly recommend purging your kitchen of all products with artificial colorings and preservatives. Recent studies have shown correlations between children who consume these additives and hyperactivity and learning problems. 2. Avoid all foods containing MSG and aspartame, which are known to excite brain cells. In today’s vast kosher food market, it is easier than ever to find products free of such additives. Check food labels carefully to make sure foods do not contain these ingredients.

3. Highly refined oils like cottonseed and vegetable oil should be replaced with extra virgin olive oil and canola oil. It’s best to focus on whole and unprocessed foods. 4. Choose organic produce, which is grown free of harmful additives. It is worth paying the extra price. When a child doesn’t eat and absorb nutrients normally, he or she can’t grow and learn properly. When parents understanding how nutrition problems can compromise behavior and brain function, they will place the proper priority on a wholesome diet for their child. u

Sheryl Mayer MS RD is a registered dietitian with a Master’s of Science in Health and Nutrition. She specializes in nutrition therapy for digestive disorders such as Crohn’s Disease, IBS, reflux and GERD as well as dietary interventions for those with high cholesterol, food allergies, hypertension, and obesity. She is an oxford provider. Sheryl is available for private consultations and speaking engagements and can be reached at 917-344-0022. For more information, please visit Disclaimer: The information in this arti-

cle is for education purposes only, it is not intended to be in place of medical advice.

For More Information…

1. Research showing that antibodies may be produced following consumption of casein and gluten in susceptible children:[1] Vojdani.pdf Bibliography: Vojdani et al, 2003, International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology. Infections, Toxic Chemicals, and Dietary Peptides Binding to Lymphocyte Receptors and Tissue Enzymes are Major Instigators of Autoimmunity in Autism. Vol 16, pp 189-199. 2. Research from the Autism Research Institute: biomed/ARI_TreatmentRatings_ Form34QR_February2008.pdf Bibliography: Autism Research Institute ,2008, Parent Ratings of Behavioral Effects of Biomedical Interventions, Publ. 34, Retrieved September 10, 2009, from

TREATMENT By Yaakov Kornreich based on an interview with Melanie Katin


Alternative Treatments: Applying Traditional Chinese Medicine to Children with Special Needs

elanie Katin is a licensed acupuncturist in New York State, is a clinical supervisor, and an instructor teaching Pediatrics at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine for the past 2 years. In her private practice, she has used acupuncture and other treatments based upon traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to treat children who have been diagnosed with such disorders as autism, cerebral palsy, hyperactivity, and various forms of sensory dysfunction. Katin explains that TCM looks at the overall condition of the person, rather than focusing on a more localized or specific condition or disability, as Western medicine usually does. The approach of Chinese medicine is to step back and try to analyze the overall pattern of the individual, including their digestion and sleep habits, in addition to the more localized symptoms. TCM then seeks to rectify their body as a whole by creating a free flowing system with no blockages or parts lacking nourishment. This is accomplished through the use of acupuncture, acupressure, the application of herbs and modifications to diet. Often the TCM treatments are applied to other portions of the body, rather than the areas where the specific symptoms of the disorder appear. Any specific disorder is seen as part of the larger tendencies affecting the person’s entire wellbeing. For example, TCM would analyze the person’s general level of activity, to determine whether it is too active, or “hot,” or too lethargic, which Chinese medicine would characterize as “cold,” or “damp.” Chinese medicine would describe hyperactivity, or the re-

petitive motions that Western medicine defines as a symptom of autism, as indications of excessive “heat.” This, according to Chinese medicine, is the result of the overstimulation of a child’s sensory system by too many sounds, sights and smells,

blocking the ability of the child’s nervous system to respond as expected to normal inputs. A TCM practitioner would use acupressure and various herbal formulas to calm or “cool” the child’s nervous system, thereby allowing the child to respond to normal sensory inputs. On the other hand, a child exhibiting lethargy, low appetite and an inability to focus and engage with others, would be described as “cold,” or “damp,” indicating TCM treatments designed to add “heat” to the body, or remove “dampness.” Chinese medicine talks about a kind of energy flow in the human body that it calls the qi (pronounced chee). TCM treatments, such as scraping or tapping the skin and “moxibustion,” (the burning of the mugwart herb) near the skin, are designed to stimulate the circulation of qi through the body’s acupuncture points, each of which influences specific regions throughout the body. Nutrition is a major concern of traditional Chinese medicine. TCM teaches that raw fruits and vegetables hinder the diges-

tive process and are not wellabsorbed, even by healthy children. The same holds true for other raw foods such as citrus fruits, ice cream and yogurt that are difficult to digest, and impart a “cold” tendency to the body. Instead, Chinese medicine recommends feeding children bland foods that have been cooked or steamed, and easier to digest. Practitioners of TCM also oppose the addition of artificial flavors and colors to natural foods. The approach of Chinese medicine fundamentally differs from that of Western medicine because it first seeks to identify and address the root cause of the disharmony that is ultimately responsible for the disorder being treated. TCM treatments trace back to the original insult to the body, and also address the branch of the disorder that may present as the immediate symptoms. In treating children diagnosed with cerebral palsy, or who have suffered brain damage due to trauma or a genetic mutation, Katin would apply the TCM treatments known as pediatric tui na, which involves massage and acupressure, and sho ni shin which uses special metal tools to scrape or tap the surface of the skin. She reports that 2 or 3 such treatments per week can relax the muscle spasms or the flaccidity that such children experience. Katin also says that vigorous acupuncture treatments applied to children who have been diagnosed with Downs syndrome, a genetic disorder, during the first 3 years of their life, can improve

their outcome and even their appearance over the long term. She notes that in mild cases of disease, such as a cold or a cough, a single acupuncture treatment is often effective enough to resolve the condition, but more severe conditions typically require repeated treatments over time, before the patient’s body state has progressed to the point that the body’s natural healing processes can complete the cure without further assistance from TCM. Katin is careful to avoid exaggerating the potential benefits from acupuncture and other forms of TCM treatment. She does not suggest that TCM be used as a substitute for standard medical treatments, particularly in situations where they are most effective, such as when Western medicine has identified a specific cause for the disease or condition, such as bacteria, virus, or tumor, as well as a specific cure. TCM is most effective in treating conditions for which Western medicine has no proven cure to offer, by mobilizing the various healing forces that TCM has identified in the body to improve the patient’s overall condition, and, in the process, their specific symptoms as well. u Melanie Katin, L.Ac. has been practicing Chinese medicine in New York City since 2004. She is a graduate of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and University of California/Berkeley. She is a general practitioner whose main focus in practice is helping children and adults resolve health issues of autoimmunity, including eczema, allergies, digestive ailments, and Multiple Sclerosis. Her practice is based in Manhattan, and she can be reached at: (212) 777-1318 for further information. December 2009 • Building Blocks • 61

TREATMENT By Dr. Jack and Robin Muchnick


The Power of Unconditional Love: Animal-Assisted Activities/Therapy

s humans, we need love, purpose, socialization and support to develop properly. Animals can help in this process. Animals have a way of accepting without qualification. They don’t care how a person looks or what they say. An animal’s acceptance is nonjudgmental, forgiving, and uncomplicated by the psychological games people often play. Animals are a source of comfort that can be scheduled on command, in any amount. Animal-Assisted Therapy (AA/T) is designed to improve the physical, social, emotional and/or cognitive functioning of the participant, as well as provide educational and motivational effectiveness for participants. It involves the deliberate inclusion of an animal with specific relatable characteristics into a person’s education or recreational program, and combining input from the animal, the therapist and the participant. AA/T can be done in any setting: at home, at school, in a hospital or institution or at a farm. Those who can benefit from contact with domesticated, specially trained animals through AA/T include: people with special needs, at-risk, abused, medical issues, emotional issues, the elderly and children. For those

Special Needs Adult, Hands that Never Moved are Moving

who are not in a position to tend to a pet on a daily basis, animal assisted therapists provide con62 • Building Blocks • December 2009

tact, in a safe environment, with animals specially trained to be gentle. Many kinds of animals are used in AA/T the most common is the therapy dog. A diversity of animals can be used to elicit different responses and teach different messages.

“Where are your ears?” Curiously Yosef pointed to his own ears. “Wow, Yosef do you know your eyes are the same color as Freckle Face the dog’s?” He looked closely at the dog’s large eyes and smiled. “Yosef, today it’s a little cold outside, right,” Rochel said as she shook her head up and down. Yosef nodded. “Well, when it’s chilly outside we wear coats right?” “Yes, I have a blue coat,” Yosef said. “Really,” was the reply “that’s great, I love warm snuggly coats.

Yosef, look at the doggie, Hashem gave him a fur coat to keep him warm. “Look how soft his

Sensory and Fear Challenges Overcome

fur is – oh it’s so yummy!” Rochel said, as she stroked the dog. The dog was silent and stayed

Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy Special Needs Wheel Chair Bound Young Man Self Motivated to Touch Mini Horse

Yosef, Rochel and Freckle Face Little Yosef had sensory issues combined with a fear of change and doing anything new in his life. He would scream, pull away, get physical and succumb to blind fear. Rochel, an AA/T therapist and an animal were brought in to work with Yosef. When Rochel walked into the room with a smile and a small dog named Freckle Face in her arms, Yosef ran to the corner of the room to evade contact. She sat down low on a bean bag on the floor to gain eye to eye contact and said, in a gentle, kind voice, “Hiya Yosef, I’m Rochel.” She slowly placed the dog on her lap, hugging and slowly petting it. Yosef peered over cautiously to see what she was doing. “Look, I have a little doggie, he has big ears,” Rochel said, while wiggling with the dog’s long floppy ears. When Yosef looked at her, Rochel said, “And we have little ears”, pointing to her own ears and smiling.

Physical Benefits: • To manage through and help overcome hypo and hyper sensory issues, • Improve fine motor skills and gross motor skills, • Improve wheelchair skills, • Improve standing equilibrioception (balance), • Improve muscle tone and body trunk tone. • The ability to have fun, exercise and play without having to run, walk, throw or hit a ball. There are no winners and losers when “playing” with animals, only winners. Emotional Benefits: • Increase self-esteem by being able to begin and finish a task. To pet, brush, hug, or walk an animal by themselves. • To provide companionship, unconditional love, reduce loneliness, and give a sense of purpose. • Nurturing skills can be learnt. When a person nurtures, his/her need to be nurtured is being fulfilled. • Outward focus can be increased, rather than inward pity, • Caring for an animal can help teach people the responsibilities of daily living • In environments that are externally depressing or institutional, the presence of the animals serves to brighten the atmosphere, increasing amusement, laughter, and play. Educational Benefits: • Increase attention skills (i.e., ability to pay attention, staying on task), • Aid in long- or short-term memory. • Improve knowledge of concepts, such as size, color, textures, temperature, spatial orientation, etc. Eliciting verbal and non-verbal communication where feelings can be shared. This is especially powerful when individuals are not very responsive to verbal communications. Some of these benefits may seem trivial, others great. But each baby step a person takes towards recovery or self-accomplishment is monumental.


TREATMENT By Uri Schneider

Straight Talk About Stuttering


tuttering is far more common than most people would think. It affects 5 in 100 children and 1 in 100 adults around the world, including US Vice President Joe Biden, and many leading rabbis and professionals in our community today. But people who stutter deal with the condition very differently. Eitan stutters, but it is not a major problem for him. Despite his stutter, Eitan is an outgoing, athletic, and bright 16-year-old boy who participates in class and has many friends. He was even elected to become the class president. Eitan stutters quite often, with repetitions of sounds and words. Sometimes when he opens his mouth, no sounds come out. While his parents and teachers worry about his stuttering, Eitan seems untroubled by it, and generally speaks freely. On the other hand, Mo is a quiet 35-year-old man who is professionally over-qualified

and socially under-active. He avoids talking on the phone and relies on text messaging, email and social media for most of his communications. When he must speak (on the phone, ordering in restaurants, etc.), he carefully changes his words to avoid those that he fears will

Muchnick - Continued from Previous Page

on the dog’s to mimic their back. “I did it!” sounds and he exclaimed, behavior. She clearly pleased was engaged with himself. and excited. After a few Wiggles, a sessions, Yosef therapy bunny, was brushwas then put ing, hugging, on her lap, as feeding, and the AA/T theraeven walking Using D’Vash the miniature Horse pist began talkthe dog. In the ing to her. She for Balance, Motor Skills and Body-Trunk Tone process, Yosef’s began hugging self confidence grew. He began and petting the bunny, smiling trust others more, and was more from ear to ear. When the therawilling to try new situations. pist asked her a question, she Sarah and Wiggles began to talk in full sentences. Sarah is an autistic girl who For the next 20 minutes, she rarely speaks and interacts. She told “Wiggles,” in detail, what began attending an animal as- her parents had talked about sisted therapy farm with her the day before. Sarah’s transforclass on a weekly basis. When mation amazed her other therashe saw the chickens cluck- pists. ing, scratching the ground and While Animal Assisted Therapy strutting around, she started is considered new, its roots and

Miniature Horses D’Vash and Sparkle used for Small Children

still. “Yosef would you like to touch my arm as I pet the doggie?” Rochel asked. Soon he was using a brush to brush the fur

Learning to Nurture Others

cause him to stutter. Mo aspired to be a teacher, but gave up his dream because his stuttering made him afraid to stand up and talk in front of a classroom. As illustrated by Eitan and Mo, stuttering is not merely a speech error that requires correction. Stuttering is an issue that af-

People Who Stutter: How to Help 1. Become focused on communication. Become a better listener. Listen to WHAT a person has to say – not HOW he says it. 2. Seek out good advice. Many websites and professionals provide conflicting advice about stuttering. Seek-out up-to-date and credible information, and stay away from the rest. (See references below.) 3. Consult with a licensed speech-language pathologist, a professional who possesses training and experience in treating people who stutter. 4. Don’t over-react or turn-away or otherwise disengage during the stuttering moment 5. As a listener, don’t assume anything about the person who stutters (He may not want you to finish his words and sentences.) 6. As a speaker, don’t assume that people will not listen to you unless you speak fluently all of the time. 7. Don’t give off-the-cuff advice – or knee-jerk reactions. Advice like, “Take a breath,” “Slow down,” “Calm down,” or “He’ll grow out of it” may not be helpful. …Schneider

fects people in different ways, and treatment decisions must fit the person who stutters – not just the disorder. In that sense, stuttering is a unique speech disorder. Unlike articulation problems (such as a lisp), stuttering is more likely to significantly impact a person’s overall confidence and life choices. For example, Moshe Rabbeinu, the greatest leader of all time, also a person who stuttered, initially tried excusing himself from his holy calling, telling Hashem, “Lo ish devarim anochi – I am not a man of words.” The latest research clearly identifies stuttering as a speech disorder with a neuro-physiological basis. That means it is not a psychological, emotional or a cognitive issue. In the brain’s wiring there is a physical glitch in the speech-motor system. Stuttering can be likened to an environmental allergy to dust or pollen. Dust and pollen are not the direct cause of alContinues on Page 65

An Only Child’s Best Friend when He’s Sick

concepts are very old, based on the belief that through unconditional love, anything is possible. u Dr. Jack and Robin Muchnick founded Sweet Dream Interactive Farm and Animal Rescue located in Jackson/Lakewood and Edison New Jersey, and offer a diversity of programs on their farm. For more information call 732-987-6008, or visit http:// www.sweetdreamtherapyfarm.webs. com. December 2009 • Building Blocks • 63

TREATMENT By Avigael (Stephanie) Saucier Wodinsky, PhD


Applied Behavior Analysis as an Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Behaviors

ccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 1 in 150 children have some type of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Individuals with an ASD typically have difficulties with social skills, communication and behavior. They can present with a wide variety of symptoms, which can range from mild to quite severe. At this time, there are many types of interventions available for individuals with ASDs. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is one such intervention. It is a scientific approach that seeks to determine which environmental factors affect behavior in a way that is socially important.

Further, it uses those same factors to help change problematic behavior. Applied behavior analysis is not an intervention intended solely for use with autism spectrum disorders. Rather, it is an intervention strategy for any problematic behavior. Even typically developing children and their families can benefit from approaches developed from applied behavior analysis. Behavior analytic interventions are based upon a very simple formula: A a B a C. That is, antecedent, behavior, and consequence. Every behavior is preceded by some environmental occurrence (the antecedent) and is followed by a


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64 • Building Blocks • December 2009

consequence. A reinforcing consequence is one that increases the likelihood that the behavior will occur again in the future. An extinguishing consequence is one that decreases the likelihood that the behavior will occur again in the future. Typical ABA interventions are built around a theory of reinforcement and extinction. One of the key aspects of ABA is determining what items, events, and conditions are reinforcing for each individual. A reinforcer could be a particular food, activity, or even a special scent. An extinguishing intervention, then, is one which discontinues the delivery of a reinforcer, thus reducing the likelihood of the behavior occurring in the future. For example, Mom lets Leah go outside to play after she cleans up her room. Since Leah enjoys going outside to play,

that acts as a reinforcement for the desirable behavior. The procedure of letting Leah go outside to play is the reinforcement for Leah’s desired behavior of cleaning up her room. Likewise, Yosef’s parents would hug him whenever he cried after being told “no,” thereby reinforcing his behavior. As a result, Yosef soon began to cry every time he was told “no.” After realizing that they were encouraging Yosef’s undesirable behavior, his parents started to ignore his crying after being told “no.” As a result, Yosef would cry less often after being told “no,” and eventually stopped crying altogether. This is an example of what ABA calls “extinction.” In order to begin an ABA intervention, one must determine what skills are to be taught. Generally, skills are chosen for their utility or in order to help reduce problem behaviors. Once a skill


(or skills) is chosen, a curriculum will be devised. Each skill is taught via a teaching program. A program generally follows the A a B a C structure. For example, a program could be devised to help a child with autism who is unable to answer yes/no questions intuitively. The antecedent might be the teacher asking, “Is this an orange?” while holding an orange in front of the child. The desired behavior is a “yes” response from the child. The reinforcing consequence of a “yes” response could be giving the child a small piece of orange to eat. It may be necessary to prompt the child at first, but the prompting would be decreased and eventually discontinued over time. For the Schneider - Continued from Page 63

lergic reactions. Rather, the antibodies in the body of a person’s with allergies are triggered by the presence of dust or pollen. Similarly, a person who stutters is sensitive to certain triggers (i.e. fatigue, arousal, rate of speech, feeling nervous, etc.) that can cause a glitch in his/her fluency of speech. “What is the cause?” For millennia, ever since Moshe Rabbeinu and Demosthenes (the leading orator of ancient Athens, and a person who stuttered), there have been many theories, superstitions and beliefs about the causes of stuttering. Thankfully, modern research has thoroughly disproved the most harmful of these theories, including the diagnosogenic theory which blames over-reactive parents whose criticism allegedly caused their children to continue to stutter. Notwithstanding this thoroughly accepted research, many lay people and professionals (with

skill to be “generalized,” the child would practice responding “yes” appropriately to a variety of stimuli, eventually without prompting. One important aspect of ABA is that it is completely data driven. For each program, every response is recorded and graphed. This allows the teacher to know, with certainty, what skills have been mastered and when to move on to another stimulus within a particular skill, or to another skill altogether. Applied Behavior Analysis includes more than the kind of intervention described above, which is commonly known as discreet trial training. Other forms of ABA include Incidental Teaching, Verbal Behavior, Pivotal Response Training, and

several others. Other types of interventions exist and are widely used, such as DIR/Floortime, TEACCH, and sensory integration therapy. However, providers and researchers of behavior analytics contend that, to date, only ABA interventions have been scientifically tested and documented as to their efficacy in terms of cognitive functioning, language skills, and academic performance. ABA is proven effective as a behav-

the best intentions) continue to give potentially harmful advice based on outdated information. The actual cause of the disorder continues to be a mystery. Stuttering sometimes runs in the family, but there are many people who stutter who have no family history. Based on the latest research, competent professionals achieve good results from intervention, but there is still much more to be learned about stuttering.

resources below). In dealing with school-age children, teens and adults, a professional consultation is strongly recommended. A competent speech-language pathologist can determine the appropriateness of therapy. Any therapy should include a component that addresses speech behaviors and adaptations, as well as dealing with the person’s attitudes and feelings about their communication. There is no single therapy approach, pill or device that eliminates stuttering 100%. Beware of anyone who makes that claim. The treatment of any person who stutters must take into account their age. In fact, preschoolers, school age children, and teens/adults who stutter each have their own therapeutic needs and abilities. For example, current research shows that we can now effectively treat preschool children who stutter (3-6 years of age) either eliminating

“Can it be cured?” In dealing with preschool children, it is important to be mindful of two things: (1) Most children who stutter outgrow it in their early years (with or without intervention), but some children continue to stutter. (2) Current research indicates that new treatment approaches can increase the likelihood of eliminating or significantly decreasing the severity of stuttering in preschool children (see

ioral intervention either alone, or as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. u

Avigael Wodinsky is the Founder and Director of The Rayim Connection, an organization dedicated to providing Jewish education and enrichment to children with special needs in Atlanta, Georgia. She holds a Graduate Academic Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of North Texas. She is the proud mother of 4 year old twins; one of whom is autistic.

For More Information… Bibliography Anderson, S. R., & Romanczyk, R. G. (1999). Early intervention for young children with autism: Continuum-based behavioral models. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 24(3), 162-173. Autism Spectrum Disorders Fact Sheet, 2009, by the Centers for Disease Control Howard, J. S., Sparkman, C. R., Cohen, H. G., Green, G., & Stanislaw, H. (2005). A comparison of intensive behavior analytic and eclectic treatments for young children with autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 26, 359-383. Latham, G. I. (1994). The power of positive parenting: A wonderful way to raise children. Salt Lake City, UT: Northwest Publishing, Inc.

their stuttering or decreasing its severity (see references below). Clearly each person deserves unique and personal answers, given his/her life circumstances, his/her stuttering severity, and his/her stage of life. However, it is fair to say that today we do have effective treatments and strategies to help all those who struggle with stuttering. u Uri Schneider, M.A. CCC-SLP is a partner in Schneider Speech Pathology, with offices in Nassau, Queens and the Bronx. He specializes in stuttering, voice, learning and public speaking; working with both children and adults. Uri is also on faculty at The Summit School of Queens. Contact him at or via the web at www.schneiderspeech. com.

For More Information… Resources: 1. National Stuttering Association ( 2. Stuttering Foundation of America ( 3. Lidcombe Stuttering Program for Preschoolers (http://www.fhs. December 2009 • Building Blocks • 65

TREATMENT ASK THE EXPERT Expert Answers to Real-Life Questions the field based upon their knowledge, training and experience.

Here are the answers to serious questions raised by parents and care-givers of special needs individuals in a variety of real-life situations. These answers are valuable to all of us, not only for the practical guidance they offer for the specific circumstances described, but also for revealing the approach of professionals in

Please note answers are for information purposes only, and are not a substitute for an actual evaluation. If you have any questions for a future issue you can contact us at Compiled by Chaya Ilene Klass

Ask the Advocate Reopening a Case when the CSE says “No” Dear Advocate, My son is currently in the 3rd grade. In the middle of last year, I contacted his district and tried to open a case for him to get occupational therapy. His teacher reports that he has a difficult time sitting and focusing, his handwriting is poorly formed and it takes him a long time to complete his work. He also has difficulty with some fine motor skills, for example, in self-help skills like putting on his coat and buttoning but-

tons. The CSE did a psycho-educational evaluation and had an occupational therapist test him. At the evaluation, the OT told me that even though my son definitely has some areas of delay in his fine motor skills, the CSE would not be recommending OT for him. In May the CSE had an IEP meeting for my son and sure enough, the team told me that my son does not qualify for OT. I told them that I disagreed and that my son is in need of occupational





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therapy. I told the team that I am worried that as he enters 3rd grade more demands will be placed on him to write and that he will not be able to keep up with his class. We just had parent teacher meetings and his teachers are telling me that my son really needs OT. I am worried that if I open the case again, it will take a long time and they may turn us down again. What should I do to get him the services he needs? A Concerned Parent Dear Concerned Parent, The first thing you should do is write a letter to the CSE (Committee on Special Education) indicating that you disagree with their recommendation and that you believe your son does need occupational therapy in order to receive an appropriate education, therefore you are requesting that the IEP team reconvene to discuss your son’s needs. Even though you may have told them this verbally, it is always crucial to document your position in writing. It is important to back up your statement by providing letters from your son’s teacher and pediatrician supporting his need for services and providing examples of areas in which his fine motor deficits are impacting on his ability to learn and progress in school. You should also notify the CSE if you intend to obtain a private occupational therapy evaluation and that you reserve your right to pursue reimbursement for the private evaluation. If you don’t provide them with this notice prior to having your child privately eval-

By Juby Shapiro

uated, then you will not be able to seek reimbursement if your case goes to an impartial hearing. While sometimes it goes faster, according to the law, the CSE has 60 business days from the time a parent requests that the case be opened or re-opened in which they must evaluate the student, convene a CSE review meeting to develop an IEP and offer an appropriate placement for the student. These days do not include weekends and Federal holidays. This is a long time and may mean that even if the CSE reconvenes and finds your son is eligible for OT, he might not begin services till late in the school year or even the beginning of the next school year. While you are going through the process of obtaining a private evaluation and reopening your son’s case, it is recommended that you speak to your insurance company about the possibility of your son receiving some occupational therapy sessions through private insurance in the interim. In some cases, where parents are able to finance private therapy, they can notify the district in writing of their intent to pay for their child’s therapy and pursue reimbursement at an impartial hearing. When preparing for your son’s IEP meeting you should send a copy of your private evaluation and all supporting documentation to the district, prior to the meeting so that the team has an opportunity to review it. It is also important that your son’s teacher participates in the IEP

TREATMENT Ask The Expert By Yitty Rimmer MS, OTR/L

Ask The Occupational Therapist Q

My four-year old son is constantly touching other children and bothering them. When he gets excited, he will even go over and hit or pinch another child. My two year old’s Early Intervention Special Education Teacher suggested that he could have a sensory processing disorder. She recommends that I brush him. What is brushing? And, How do I brush my son?

A Many parents receive advice

to brush their child who appears to display a sensory processing disorder. However, before running to do so, a few questions still need to answered. There are two types of sensory processing disorders (a.k.a. sensory integration dysfunction). There are those on the hyporeactive side (i.e. the brain does not process fully all the outside information, so the child seeks/ craves input), and those on the hyper-reactive side (i.e. the brain processes so much information, the child feels overloaded). You need to first take your child to a qualified Occupational Therapist who understands sensory integration dysfunction, and determine if, and which type of the disorder your child has. Based on which side of the disorder the child presents as having, the therapist will determine

if your child will benefit from the Wilbarger’s Brushing Protocol. (Named after Patricia Wilbarger who developed the technique.) The Brushing Protocol is a technique that uses a soft surgical, square or oval brush. The brush is used to make quick successive strokes on the arms, legs and back, approximately three times in each area, in order to stimulate the nerve endings on the skin. This enables the brain to process the tactile sense better, enabling the child to tolerate touch sensation. Brushing, therefore overwhelmingly helps children with a hyper-reactive response to touch, otherwise known as tactile defensiveness. These children who have difficulty processing tactile input present for example as irritable, will overreact to labels on their shirt, avoid wearing certain materials due to extreme discomfort, and will avoid messy activities (i.e. finger-painting). Although I have never met your child, the limited information you gave me does not indicate that your child recoils from touch. It appears that he craves touch, actively seeking it by looking to touch other children. Therefore, in all likelihood brushing will not help your child. However, if he is indeed a seeker, then this is a child who is displaying a hypo-reactive response to touch. His brain

does not feel that he is getting enough touch/tactile information, and craves input. The child responds by seeking this type of input from his environment. A sensory diet from an Occupational Therapist will help your child. A sensory diet would give the child activities that would provide his brain with the tactile input it needs, and the craving to touch other people and things will then calm down.

Q My 11 year old daughter

has been receiving Occupational Therapy since she was 1 ½ years old. When can she stop? I feel like her therapists will always find something to work on.

A The question really is – Will

your daughter be able to keep up with her peers in school, and sufficiently meet her needs at home at an age appropriate level? Occupational Therapy should help your daughter build the skills she needs in order to function in her surroundings, (i.e. home, school, neighborhood, community etc.). This does not mean your child needs to achieve perfection. Occupational Therapy is recommended when a child has difficulty functioning in school, or at home, and is unable to keep up with other children his/ her own age in a given environ-

ment. At 11 years old, your child should be able to jot down notes in class, copy from a blackboard independently, write legibly, dress and feed herself, look relatively put together (i.e. be able to tuck in her own shirt, fix her hair into a ponytail, tie her shoes etc.), attend to her teacher’s lectures, be reasonably organized with her personal belongings, help out at home with simple food preparation (i.e. peeling and dicing vegetables, serving food to a table, clearing plates), etc. If you can rate your child as having achieved these tasks to at least 85%, that would be termed functional. Try to determine if there are any areas that stand out as lacking. Speak to your daughter’s teachers at school to find out how she is doing there as well. If you feel she is ready to be discharged, but the thought of stopping completely scares you, try three months without therapy and see how your daughter progresses. If she manages well without struggling, you can be confident that she has graduated therapy. u Yitty Rimmer has a Masters in Occupational Therapy from New York University. She currently has her own private pediatric practice in Brooklyn, NY.

Ask the Advocate - Continued from Previous Page

meeting. He or she may do so over the phone. The teacher can share with the team examples of how your son’s fine motor issues are affecting his performance in class and why he/she believes that your son needs occupational therapy in order to learn and progress in school. If pos-

sible, your private OT evaluator may also participate by phone if he/she is available to review their report and to elaborate on what they feel your son’s needs are. If the team still denies your son’s need for services, you can then request an impartial hearing.

When filing for a hearing it is advisable to bring an advocate or attorney with you. While parents may represent themselves, a lot may be at stake and it is important that someone is with you who is well versed in special education law and your child’s rights. If you lose the hearing, you will

not be able to file another hearing on the same issue until the following school year. u

Juby Shapiro is a special education advocate and is the founder and director of TAFKID a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping families whose children have a variety of disabilities and special needs. TAFKID’s phone number is (718) 252-2236 or via e-mail at December 2009 • Building Blocks • 67

TREATMENT Ask The Expert By Betty Aboff, M.A. CCC SL/P

Ask the Speech-Pathologist Q My child just turned 2 and

is only saying a few words. My neighbor’s child is the same age and seems to be talking much more. Should I be concerned?

questions and usually repeats exactly what I ask him rather than giving me an appropriate response. His teacher says he does the same thing in class in school. Should I be concerned?

If he has not been already, A No. Normal speech and lan- A your child should be tested for guage development can proceed at very different rates. It is common for two-year-olds to have a 40-50-word vocabulary and to be just starting to put 2 words together. Other children develop language skills faster, and can manage to conduct a real conversation at that age. It is the two-year-old child who only has a few words, isn’t imitating, and who is having trouble understanding language and commands addressed to him who needs speech therapy. Your child’s hearing should be tested by an audiologist and evaluated for the need for therapy through an Early Intervention service serving children ages birth-3.


My child is 4 years old and I have to tell him something at least 10-20 times before he follows what I say to him. He has trouble with answering

Q How do I get special edu-

cation services for my child?

auditory processing (the ability to understand spoken language) difficulties, as part of a complete audiological evaluation, to discover if the source of the difficulty is behavioral, processing or a combination of both. In the meantime, before giving your child directions, make sure you have gained his complete attention. Speak slowly and clearly, but don’t over-exaggerate your speech. Your directions should be simple and brief. You should also try to use visual aids, such as pictures or actual objects and written instructions to supplement your spoken words. While speaking to your child, emphasize key words, and then ask him to repeat your instructions back to you, to make sure that he understood what you told him. Next year, when he enters Kindergarten, he will be expected to be able to follow directions,


I am a Mom with three children under the age of five. Are there any techniques that therapists use that I can try at home to help my children develop their language skills?


The following are some techniques that I’d recommend: 1. Expansion: expanding what your child says. If your child says “mommy,” you say, “Where is mommy’s car?” 2. Modeling: provide a good model for the child to follow. If your child says, “baby hurt,” you say, “put band-aid on it. 3. Parallel talk: Comment on the actions of yourself or your child. This is in the hope that the child will begin to do the same 4. Imitation: Have the child imitate your words after you. This is in the hope that the child will begin to use it spontaneously

Ask the Special Ed Teacher

child. The results of the assessment will determine if your child is eligible for services. This must take place in a timely matter.

A The first step is to talk to your child’s teacher. Express Q your concerns and get the teachers opinion on your child’s current level of progress. A formal request in writing starts the evaulation process. Once the schools committee on special education receives this request they must by law evaluate your 68 • Building Blocks • December 2009

answering questions etc. If he has auditory processing difficulties, it will become more apparent once he enters the classroom setting. This is the time to work try to give him compensatory strategies in order to function better in the classroom setting.

What is a collaborative team teaching class?

A Collaborative team teaching is a special education service in

a general education setting. It is formerly known as inclusion. The ratio for this program is 12:1. That means 12 children with

IEP’s and one special education teacher. These children and special education teacher are part of a general education program. That means there are around 15 general education students in this class as well. There is also a general education teacher in this class too. The class follows a typical grade level curriculum. The special education teacher adapts the curriculm to meet the needs of each childs individualized education plan. u

5. Association: When a child comes across a new experience or word, you supply additional vocabulary words. If your child says, “car,” you say, “It is a car and it has wheels like daddy’s car” 6. Repetition: Repeating the same new words over and over again in front of your child in many different contexts. Eventually, the child will begin to use the words himself. Try these techniques at home and keep praising your child each time he tries to use a new word. Encourage him to want to learn new words and use them. u Betty Aboff is a licensed SpeechLanguage Pathologist specializing in evaluations and therapy for children ages birth to five. She is Speech Supervisor with the Whitestone School for Child Development, a special ed preschool in Queens, and Kinderkare, an Early Intervention agency in West Hempstead. She has almost 20 years experience in the field. She also consults for schools and agencies. You may ask her your questions about your child’s speech and language skills at 516-565-0189 or via e-mail at Questions can be emailed and considered for future publications.

By Jared Wasserman Jared Wasserman has been teaching children with special needs for the past 12 years. He holds a Masters of Science in Special Education and Advanced Certificates in School and District Administration. His specialty and joy is working with young children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. He is currently running 1-2-3 “LET’S PLAY” social skills program in Brooklyn. He can be reached at Email- or 917-299-4596.

TREATMENT Ask The Expert By Kayla Cynamon PT, MS, DPT

Ask The Physical Therapist Q

My son is about to start going out on dates. He is tall, but he sits slouched, like someone three times his age. Is there something that can be done to improve his posture?

A As kids get older it seems

should be flat on the floor and they should not be crossed. The hips should be at about a 90-degree angle. Next, make sure that his lower back is curved inwards like the letter “C”. Place a paper towel roll or a lumbar roll in the curve of his lower back to help support it while he is sitting. Ask him to keep his shoulder back and lean forward from his hips. Leaning forward from his hips will allow him to reach his desk/ table without having to slouch. Your son should understand that you cannot fix his posture for him; he needs to be an active participant. Let him understand that what he does now when he is young will save him from future back problems. u

like they spend more and more time sitting. They sit in class for hours at a time, they sit in front of the computer, they sit on the bus, car or train and they sit to do homework, study for tests or learn in Bais Medrash. Clearly, our children are spending most of their waking hours sitting, usually slouched. As they grow into young adults, their poor postural habits follow them into adulthood. The time to address these issues is as soon as you notice them - the earlier the better. Teach your child how to sit properly by having him try the following: Ask him to sit in a chair with his bottom all the way back in the chair. His feet

Kayla Cynamon PT, MS, DPT is a physical therapist in private practice in Brooklyn. She has a physical therapy degree from Hunter College and an Advanced Masters in Orthopedics as well as a Post Professional Doctorate from Touro College. She can be reached at 718-336-4440 or

Parenting Guidelines…

Parenting Guidelines…

Parenting does not come with built in guidelines. Every child is unique and so is every family. As parents, we need to decide what is important in the context of our own family and set up rules and guidelines for our children that work for us. Be consistent about your rules, respond consistently, but be flexible enough so that your child knows you have respect for their individuality and that they can approach you without worry.

Be proactive: when a child is having difficulty at home or in school with a task or social situation we can develop strategies to can benefit him or her. For example, if Malka is having trouble staying focused for the amount of time it takes to do 6 math examples, her mother might suggest doing 2 or 3 questions and then taking a 10-minute break. IN this way the homework has become more manageable and less of a battle.

Join Us For The Next Big Issue of


June 2010

Supplement to the Jewish Press Periodical Publication

To Be Published May/June 2010 For More Information Contact Moshe Klass at: 718.330.1100 ext 352 or

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 69

PRODUCT REVIEWS From the Reviewers

The world of special needs children has grown tremendously over the past few years. New diagnoses, new therapies and a while range of new products and books to make life a little bit easier. It’s hard to know which produt or book & what is best for your child and their specific needs. That’s

Boardmaker ® Plus! v.6

Boardmaker is a graphics database containing over 35,000 Picture Communication Symbols (PCS) that can be used for a variety of printed communication materials. These symbols can be printed in any size and color and with text in many different languages. Boardmaker Plus is a supplement that allows you to bring the Board-

where we come in with our unique review section. Therapists and educators in the field have reviewed all of the items in these reviews. We hope you enjoy! Chaya Ilene Klass u Breindy Rosenblatt u Brocha Holczer

maker pictures and activities to life. Its features allow you to talk, play recordings, move between boards and interact with buttons on the screen. In this way a computer can be made into an interactive communication board for those students who are unable to use oral

language exclusively. There are also interactive books, worksheets and games to use with children and adults with varying speech and language delays. The CD comes with over 600 sample boards and templates that are interactive with voice and anima-

tion. The handbook has clear instructions on how to create your own board each step of the way. You can program each picture to speak using the microphone on the computer, or by selecting a prerecorded sound from the Mayer-Johnson library.

Therapeutic Benefits: • • •

Pictures symbols are often used as a bridge for oral language during the transition stage from preverbal to verbal communication. These pictures can also be used for a variety of language activities including sequencing of events; story retelling and helping students create their own personal stories. Many teachers use these pictures to create daily schedules to

assist children who have difficulty transitioning to new activities and need visual cues to help them through their day. Sound object association can be also taught using this program. This is an important pre-reading skill as well as a basic auditory listening skill.

Pronoun Perspective:

1st and 2nd Person Perspective

Pronoun Perspective is a fantastic software program that increases comprehension of all 1st and 2nd person pronouns (me, my, you, your, I, we, mine, yours, ours) by narrative perspective. This program offers many advantages to clinicians, educators and parents by providing highly structured interactions to illustrate the aspects of language that many children need to be formally instructed in. The graphics are child friendly and realistic and provide a scene where 2 or more people use the target pronoun pattern in different settings, i.e. in the classroom, at home, at the park. The child has to choose the person who would say the target pronoun. For example, in one scene there are 2 children, one wearing a hat and one who is pointing at the one wearing the

hat. The directive will then say, “Who says, ‘the hat is on my head’?” The student will then have to choose the correct person. The responses are recorded and the program automatically adjusts the level of instructional support based on performance. Each session’s results are stored in the database and students can always continue their sessions from where they previously left off. In the report writer section of the program, each child has his or her own folder where scores and progress are stored, as well as additional notes that the clinician can add after each session. These summaries are then used to generate customized reports that can be printed for analysis of performance and progress. There are also personalized reinforcement certificate to print after each session.

Therapeutic Benefits: • •

70 • Building Blocks • December 2009

Can be used with children diagnosed with autism, developmental disabilities, specific language impairment (SLI), hearing impairments and auditory processing disorders. Program settings can be modified to address different populations and different types of learners, i.e. target directives can presented

• •

either auditorily, visually or both. Reinforcement settings on the program can be modified to provide optimal benefit for each child. Cumulative storage of each student’s individual performance allows for tracking of progress and generation of future objectives.

PRODUCT REVIEWS Climbing Art Obstacles in Autism

Finally a well organized, easy to use, craft activity book! Climbing Art Obstacles in Autism is an art activity book that breaks down fun and motivating art tasks into clear, easy, structured, concrete steps with colorful pictorial (visual) cues. Created by an occupational therapist and teacher, this book comes complete with clear explanations on how therapeutic goals can be addressed through these fun and purposeful art activities. This book offers 49 visually structured art activities of increasing difficulty, each • •

task incorporating a variety of skills. Each page depicts step by step pictorial instructions with check boxes by each step for children to mark off as it is completed, aiding in organization, following directions, and logical sequencing of tasks These check boxes also help children gather the necessary items prior to beginning the task. Each art activity improves core skills needed for school success such as fine

Therapeutic Benefits: • •

Helps with organization, following directions, and logical sequencing of tasks. Offers a multisensory approach to learning and uses a slow desensitizing to reduce tactile defensiveness in a fun explorative way.

motor skills, upper extremity control, hand skills, object manipulation, motor planning, and visual motor skills including cutting, drawing, and copying. It also incorporates the use of a variety of classroom tools such as crayons, paintbrushes, scissors and more, which are vital for young children to master early on. Each of these well-planned art activities incorporates a variety of tactile sensory mediums such as paint,

Improves fine motor, motor planning and visual motor skills. Improves motivation, fosters independence and builds self esteem.

shaving cream, glue mixtures, feathers, cotton, salt, waxed paper, and more for a true multisensory approach to learning. Children are motivated to replicate the visual representation of the art activity depicted through pictures. This art book allows children to be successful, increases participation, promotes independence and improves motivation and self esteem. Great for children with autism spectrum disorders, ADD/ADHD, language delays, as well as children of varying abilities and disabilities. This 59-page book is spiral bound and has easily detachable pages for ease of use. It is truly an effective and imaginative, yet structured way to explore art.


SmartKnit KIDS


Seamless Sensitivity Socks No Seams to Bug Ya!®

Special Footwear for Girls and Boys

Patented process makes socks completely seam-free for sensitive little feet.

Unique No Heel Design

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Children can put on socks correctly with confidence.

compatible with AFO braces!

Reduces wrinkling and bunching Form-fitting design to “hug” foot and prevent wrinkling or bunching .

Comfortable Non-Binding Top Keeps Feet Dry & Healthy

Patented “Easy Fit” heel system eliminates the daily stress of putting on shoes.•800•936•0511

SmartKnitKIDS™ is a brand of Knit-Rite, Inc. No seams to bug ya!


December 2009 • Building Blocks • 71


A wonderful alternative to the bulky therapy ball, Rib It Ball is not simply a ball, but rather a versatile tool that is a must for all therapists. It has an inflatable balloon that gets inserted into another ball made from material that creates a durable and lightweight ball that is useful for any therapy session. It comes in black, white and red, or multi-color. These high contrasting colors are great for children with vision deficits. Aside from the visual stimuli, the Rib It Ball’s unique material pro• •

vides tactile and auditory feedback with its crinkling noise and textured material, creating a multisensory experience. It is so durable it easily supported the weight of a sitting therapist, making it great for weight bearing, weight shifting, posture, balance, and equilibrium reactions. With its ribs/ handles, the child feels more secure while sitting on the ball.

It is great for any age and comes in three different sizes to allow for gradual increasing of skills. It’s easy to grasp, unique ribs (which double as handles), make it easy for children with limited hand strength and dexterity to throw and catch independently and stops the ball from rolling away from a child with limited mobility. It’s light weight reduces

fear of being hit by the ball. It’s weight and size facilitates independence and success thus improving motivation and participation. Additionally, the weight and ribs make it easier for therapists to transport than the standard therapy ball. The Rib It Ball is great for games requiring sequencing such as catch, hot potato, pass the ball, etc. and can help with hand eye coordination, bilateral coordination, and midline skills.


Therapeutic Benefits:

Improves grasp and release control, hand eye coordination, bilateral hand use, strength, endurance, range of motion, crossing midline, etc. Offers a multisensory experience for children with sensory processing or vision deficits.

• • •

Improves gross motor skills including motor planning, bearing, weight shifting, posture, balance, and equilibrium reactions, trunk control, strengthening, etc. Improves socialization when played in a group setting. Can be used to teach academic concepts such as in/out, over/ under, near/far, next to, etc.

Planet Zorp Rocket

Load it, Blow It, Watch it Soar! This is a simple and inexpensive toy that has great therapeutic benefits while offering loads of fun. Children are typically resistant to receiving sensory input to the mouth, making it difficult for therapists to work. Now therapists can work with the child and she/he thinks they are simply playing and having fun. Simply slip the opening of your rocket over the launcher, stuff the rest of it into the launcher, hold it, blow into the launcher, and watch it soar up to 30 feet in the air. Blowing activities are great for helping children calm and organize themselves, as well as

for reducing sensory-seeking to the mouth such as mouthing objects and chewing pencil erasers. It also offers tactile and auditory input when the child crinkles the textured foil rockets into the Zorp launcher. It comes complete with three rockets, one Zorp launcher and a carrying pouch that easily attaches to a belt or backpack for easy transport. It is great for ages 5 and up and for both indoor and outdoor use as the rockets are lightweight they cannot hurt anything it hits. Refill packs are available for 4.99 making this an extremely affordable therapy tool for all!


Therapeutic Benefits: • • •

72 • Building Blocks • December 2009

Decreases sensory defensiveness to the mouth and its surrounding structures. Decreases sensory seeking behaviors such as chewing on pencils and mouthing objects. Improves breath control

and helps a child calm and organize themselves. Improves body awareness to the mouth thereby decreasing open mouth postures, promotes lip closure, decreases drooling and improves articulation.

PRODUCT REVIEWS Weighted Lap Pad The Contents Plus Weighted Lap Pad is a wonderful tool for children on the autism spectrum, ADD, AHD, as well as children who have difficulty remaining seated, maintaining focus, concentration and attention to task as well as maintaining an optimal arousal state. It offers deep pressure/proprioceptive input as well as postural stability that calms and soothes at the same

time. Great for use at home during homework, in daycares, school/classroom, therapy centers and group homes. Because these pads rest on the childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lap, it can be used discreetly if needed, thus making it a perfect tool for the m a i n s t re a m e d child. It is made of fleece and denim materials and are filled with poly pellets. To ensure comfort and reduce tactile defensiveness this lap pad is created with cushioning between the

filling and the outside layers, thereby providing enough proprioceptive feedback, while being comfortable to the touch. Another version of this lap pad provides extra layers of cushioning between the pellets for those children with severe tactile defensiveness. Each layer is triple stitched to guard against leakage, and the denim and fleece material is surged stitched to ensure maximum durability and ward against wear and tear. Some lap pads come complete with fun game covers that snap

Therapeutic Benefits: â&#x20AC;˘

Provides Prioprioceptive (sensory) input, which is pressure on the body that is registered by the joints and muscles that aids in improved sensory modulation and assists in achieving and maintaining an optimal arousal state for learning.

â&#x20AC;˘ â&#x20AC;˘ â&#x20AC;˘

Improves focus, attention and concentration and reduces fidgeting. Improves body Awareness. Provides increased postural stability in sitting.


onto the top providing hours of fun with marble mazes and other fine motor tasks. It weighs 4 lbs and come in two sizes, 11x17and 15x18 allowing for a perfect fit for any age. Colors may vary from darker blue to light blue. They are washable in warm water on delicate wash with warm rinse and with a mild detergent.


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Real Research...Real Vitamins...Real Results. December 2009 â&#x20AC;˘ Building Blocks â&#x20AC;˘ 73

PRODUCT REVIEWS ORA-LIGHT ® Oral Motor Exercise System

Glossary of Terms: Bilateral Coordination Using both hands in a coordinated manner

ORA-LIGHT® is a system designed to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of oral motor therapy. It is ideally used for adults and children with weak or dysfunctional oral muscles that limit or inhibit their ability to speak, swallow and/or chew. The goal of the system is to increase muscle strength in the lips, tongue and cheeks, as well as to increase the coordination of speech and swallowing patterns. The system consists of

Body Awareness Knowing where our body and body parts are in space by using information received from our joints and tendons Motor Planning The brain’s ability to conceive, organize and carry out a sequence of novel actions Postural Control The body’s ability to remain upright even with changes in surfaces Proprioception Pressure on the body that is registered by the joints and muscles

4 oral motor exercise tools, an instructional CD and exercise protocols. These tools, which come in child and adult sizes,

have shapes and textures on the handles and palatal portions to provide tangible feedback for sensory motor stimu-

Therapeutic Benefits: • •

Vestibular Input The body’s position in space, registered through the fluid in the ear Canal

Great for functional articulation disorders, swallowing and tongue thrust. Can be used in therapy as well as at home for faster carryover.

• •

Sensory feedback increases the rate of acquiring new skills. Excellent for monitoring consistency and patient progress.

Central Design 732-942-0746

Feeding Frenzy

used in combination with the

Jaw Rehabilitation Program provides a powerful tool for developing biting and chewing skills. For more information call

Speech Pathology Associates, LLC at 207-741-2443

or visit us on the web at

74 • Building Blocks • December 2009

Finally, a fun way for children to develop, refine and strengthen the pincer grasp and improve fine motor skills. This fast paced game has children using their thumb and index finger (pincer grasp) to gather the colored fish scattered around the table. After rolling the colored die, children collect all the fish that are the same color/s shown on the die by opening and closing the mouth of the piranha using their pincer grasp. Sounds easy? Not necessarily, because all the other players are trying to trap • • •

lation of the lips and tongue for oral motor therapy. This sensory feedback increases the patient’s ability to monitor the timing and consistency of the repetitive exercises. The exercise protocols consist of 5 sections, each addressing integral parts of oral motor rehabilitation. Included are exercises and goals for assisted movement, resistance movement, range of motion, precision and accuracy, and swallowing. In addition, each tool lists the specific muscles that are being worked on in each of the exercises as well as baseline and training exercises shown very clearly in the accompanying CD-ROM. oralight the same color fish in their piranha’s mouth at the same time. Collect the most fish and you have won. But be careful, pick up the wrong color fish, and you lose a turn, allowing the other players to catch the next set of fish without you. Feeding Frenzy works on fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and color recognition. It can be played individually or with up to 4 players and is for ages 5 years and up. Feeding Frenzy is so affordable, so exciting, and so much fun!


Therapeutic Benefits:

Improves hand eye coordination and visual motor skills. Pre-Academics including categorization, matching, counting, & colors. Social skills such as self-esteem and good sportsmanship.

• Following directions and sequencing of tasks. • Improves fine motor control, strengthens intrinsic muscles of the hand and improves pincer grasp. • Improves hand and finger strength.


Many children with special needs often have difficulty integrating sensory information from their eyes, ears, nose, hands, and body and thus can appear uncoordinated or clumsy. Many learning difficulties are the result of poor sensory integration of all these systems. Integrating yoga into treatment for these children can be extremely beneficial. Yoga calms

the physical body and once that occurs, the mind quiets, allowing it to become more focused and organized. Yoga improves flexibility and positively impacts gross motor, fine motor, and visual motor skills. Additionally, it promotes strength, balance, coordination, and selfesteem. The Yoga Kit makes learning and practicing yoga fun and exciting. It is a combination game and teaching tool

Therapeutic Benefits: • • • • • •

Improves directionality and right left discrimination. Motor planning. Sensory input including Vestibular Input and proprioception. Gross motor skills involving the movement of large muscles of the body and improve strength and postural control. Body Awareness. Bilateral coordination.

• • • •

Improves strength, endurance and flexibility . Improves balance, stability, and coordination. Social skills such as self-esteem, good sportsmanship, and following directions. Improves ability to achieve and maintain an optimal organized and alert arousal state that improves one’s capacity to learn, focus, and concentrate on tasks.

that combines fun, fitness, and imagination. It comes complete with 24 oversized yoga cards with a picture of the pose on one side and a poem related to the pose on the other side, providing visual and verbal cues one each card. Illustrations are real life poses of children with the additions of imaginary outlines of the poses name. For instance, the downward dog pose has the child assuming the correct downward dog posture, while illustrations add the dogs paws, tail, and head so that children can visualize why its called the downward dog pose. These visuals are a great tool and help children relate to the animal poses and

significantly increase the child’s motivation. The short, rhyming poems make it easier for children to learn, remember and repeat the pose independently. The kit combines imaginative play combined with physically challenging activity that can be done at home or school, indoors and outdoors. It can be used for children with special needs or typically developing children, and provides hours of non-competitive play. It also helps develop strength and stability, coordination, right left discrimination, flexibility, focus and attention as well as self-esteem.


December 2009 • Building Blocks • 75

PRODUCT REVIEWS Stickids® for Home ‘n School Stickkids is a versatile software program that takes all of the sensory ideas we know, love and use often, and creates a sensory diet that’s easy to use, understand, and explain to others. Therapists can choose from 125 sensory activities and customize a sensory diet for each child. Each activity comes with a complete written explana-

tion and pictorial illustrations to allow the child and team members to understand the benefits of the chosen activities as well as to provide explicit instructions of when and how to use each activity. Activities are categorized as follows: motion, heavy work, pressure and touch, suck, chew and breath, retreat, routines and planning, tips, tools and doing, and clinic. Therapists choose activities that produce the desired

outcome, and print them onto activity cards for fun games and activities. Pictures can also be inserted onto a weekly or monthly planner and printed to chart progress. The printed pictures can be laminated and placed onto a key ring that a child can carry around to help them follow their sensory diet independently. Stickids can be used at school, in the clinic or at home. It is a very affordable program

Therapeutic Benefits: • • • •

Aids with self regulation, improves arousal state, focus, and fosters emotional stability. Improves ability to follow directions, sequence tasks, and carry out routines. Improves motivation, independence and fosters self esteem. Improves ability to transition between tasks and

• •

follow daily routines. Reduces meltdowns, sensory seeking and avoidance behaviors, and other a typical sensory behaviors. Improves team collaboration and improve carryover of skills learned to school, clinic and home environments.

I Can Do That / I Can Say That

Written by Dr. Suzy Lederer 2 Stories to Encourage Early Vocabulary and Literacy Development

These 2 stories are great resources for teaching speech, language, and pre-reading skills or for just spending quality reading time with children ages 1-6. With captivating pictures, repetitive text and rhyming verse, these books are a worthwhile purchase. In the I Can Do That book, the text is written in the famed ‘Dr. Seuss’ style - kid friendly with interactive questions and comments • • •

76 • Building Blocks • December 2009

and can be used by therapists, teachers, and parents. It is great for children with difficulties in sensory integration, sensory processing and sensory motor challenges including those with ADD, ADHD, children on the autistic spectrum. Stickids is good for children from toddler to teens and can be used for children of varying abilities.


throughout. In the I Can Say That book, the same principles are used, including multiple repetitions, rhyming, exciting pictures and high frequency words to make it a delightful reading experience for both the child and parent or therapist reading to them. These hardcover storybooks come with an interactive CD-ROM that can read the story, provide printable pages and suggest goals for use.


Therapeutic Benefits:

Targets expressive language, including imitation and spontaneous production of new vocabulary, and increase use of 2 word utterances (noun+verb). Facilitates pretend play skills in various play schemas. Increases listening skills including following oral

directions, answering yes/no questions, and answering ‘wh’ questions. Promotes emergent literacy skills including understanding and producing rhymes, sight word recognition and identification, and using rhyming to develop phonic skills.

PRODUCT REVIEWS Weighted Hoodie by Sensory Critters

The Weighted Hoodie is an amazing tool that can enhance any sensory diet. Children who have difficulty processing and regulating their sensory system will love it. Adults and children who tried the Hoodie have said that it was extremely helpful in achieving and maintaining a calm and alert arousal state, helping them concentrate and stay focused on tasks. It comes in a variety of fabrics. The denim material (the one that was tested) is durable, comfortable,

and most important looks like a typical, stylish, sleeveless hoodie, thereby allowing the child/adult to wear it without anyone knowing it’s a weighted vest. Weighted vests provide proprioceptive feedback, deep pressure, and are often an essential part of sensory diets. It provides sensory feedback, improves body awareness and stability, decreases hyper-resposiveness

and promotes a calm arousal state, thereby improving focus and concentration. Vests have been cut to maximize ventilation for all weather wear. The unique tear-away zipper allows the vests to be opened quickly and is easy for the child to open and close independently. Inner pockets secure the weights inside in an inconspicuous manner and have reinforced stitching to en-

Therapeutic Benefits: • • • •

An essential part of any sensory diet. Improves body Awareness. Improves balance and stability. Sensory input in work including heavy work activities that can be an asset to a child’s sensory diet.

• •

Sensory input including proprioception. Improves ability to achieve and maintain an optimal organized and alert arousal state that improves one’s ability to learn, focus, attend and concentrate on tasks.

sure durability. The Weighted Hoodie is machine washable in cold water. The ability to place weight in the hood and the removable shoulder weights sets this Hoodie aside from all the rest, allowing input to more body surface. The weighted Hoodie comes in a variety of sizes including children’s extra small, small, medium, and large as well as adult small, medium, large, and extra large. Each size comes with a specified amount of weights, with the ability to order extra weights if needed. Please refer to their website for exact measurements before ordering. Please check with a professional before ordering this product.


December 2009 • Building Blocks • 77



Bolly Balls by Gymnic are fun, colorful, appealing to the eye, and a great tool for hand strengthening, eye hand coordination and more. Just squeeze or pinch the Bolly Balls and attach them to each other, onto a therapy ball or peaLanguage and Reading nut, tabletop, or other surSoftware for Children face. Then you can build figures, towers, characters, with Special Needs wacky designs, patterns, and anything else a child can dream up. 1-800-562-6801 Squeezing the Bolly Balls in a pinching motion strengthens little hands in a fun and motivating way, while at the same time proTherapeutic Benefits: viding proprioceptive feedback. • Improves ability to The set includes includes 20 plain balls, 4 Great for finger, follow simple hand and grasp balls with faces, and 4 suction bases to al directions. strengthening. low for hours of fun play and creativity. Bolly • Improves bilateral Aids in teaching Balls are 2’ in diameter and come in a vari hand use and hand color recognition,

• • patterns, & one to one correspondence.

eye coordination.



78 • Building Blocks • December 2009


I Have Card Game


225 Arlington Street Framingham, MA 01702 Tel: (800) 257-5376 Fax: (800) 268-6624

ety of colors for color recognition, teaching patterns, and following simple commands such as “give me the red ball”. The suction bases come with larger suction cups on the bottom for added stability when building structures to foster success and improve motivation. When used while sitting on a therapy ball, Bolly Balls can encourage reaching, bilateral play, trunk rotation and more. Bolly Balls are a great activity for individuals with upper extremity, fine motor, or neurological disabilities. For children 3 and up and at only $59.95, Bolly Balls are sure to provide hours of fun for even the fussiest child.

The “I have ” card game is a fun, fast paced game that is sure to be played over and over again! Because there is no reading required, it can be played by younger children and those with learning disabilities that impact their reading speed and ability. To begin the game, the cards are dealt evenly to each player. The players practice categorization by organizing their like cards together. Each card has a picture of an animal on one side with the words, “I have a….” and a different animal on the other side with the words, “but who has a…” The first player puts out one card saying, “I have….a cat,” and then they flip the card over saying, but “who has….a frog?” All the players then race to be the first to put a matching card down and say, “I have a frog,” flip it over and say, “but who has ….a • • •

giraffe?” The first person to get rid of all his/her cards wins the game. This game improves language skills such as verbalization, articulation and auditory processing. It also aids in letter recognition, beginning reading and reading speed. This game also helps with sequencing, picture identification, visual processing and response time as well as, eye hand coordination and bilateral hand use. It comes complete with two different color decks, allowing for two levels of play. Use one deck for easier and shorter playtime or combine the two decks for a more challenging and lengthier game. Children learn good sportsmanship and turn taking while having loads of fun. For 2-4 players, ages 5 and up.


Therapeutic Benefits:

Improves categorization, sequencing, picture identification, and matching. Improves visual motor skills and eye hand coordination. Improves auditory and visual processing speed.

• •

Social skills such as self-esteem, good sportsmanship, and following directions. Improves language skills including verbalization, and articulation.

PRODUCT REVIEWS Following Directions by Laureate Learning Systems

Finally - an answer to a common problem for many therapists. Many children have difficulty learning to consistently follow directions. Difficulty following even simple one-step commands could have significant implications on a daily routine, which decreases a child’s level of independence. Following Directions by Laureate Learning Systems is a series of programs designed to help children develop and refine their ability to follow simple one step directions. At the same time it improves auditory comprehension and the response to auditory commands, thereby improving independence and fostering self-esteem. The program offers verbal directions slowly and clearly, and uses consistent verbal prompts such as “put the bird under the branch.” It contains 24 different activities that train one-level, sequential, and two-level commands using important school concepts: spatial relations and directional terms including Above/Below, In Front Of/In Back Of /Next To, In Front Of/ Behind/Beside, In Front Of/ Behind/Between. Directional terms trained include: Upper/ Lower/Left/Right, Through/ Under, Ordinal (1st, 2nd, 3rd), Ordinal with Behind/Beside/In Front Of. The program can be customized by a therapist to work at a specific child’s pace, thereby improving the child’s chances

of success, improve their motivation, and facilitate their learning and generalization of skills. One customizable feature of this program allows the therapist/teacher to increase or reduce the child’s response time before offering a visual and verbal cue to the correct answer. If a child does not get the correct answer within the allotted time, a visual cue prompts the child to answer and offers a visual cue for the correct response. Test/ retest as well as pre- and post-test options help the therapist decide how many correct responses are needed before moving on to the next concept. It utilizes video imaging, animation, clay modeling, and 3D characters to motivate children and provide positive reinforcement when a task is completed correctly. However, the best feature of this program is the ability to track a student-individualized progress and print out a personalized progress report for team collaboration, parental involvement, or to be used as a session note or to be placed in the child’s cumulative file. Suggested for children Pre-K through adult and is helpful for children with ADD/ADHD, Autism spectrum disorders, language delays, developmental disabilities, aphasia, vision and hearing impairments, and brain injuries. A great way to teach any child to consistently follow directions!

Therapeutic Benefits: • • •

Teaches and refines a child’s ability to follow directions, Fosters independence and promotes self esteem, Improves auditory comprehension and response

time to verbal directions, Improves hand eye coordination when using the mouse to move the cursor to the correct answer. December 2009 • Building Blocks • 79

PRODUCT REVIEWS Squiggly Worms Squiggly Worms by Pressman is a wonderful game that can be used in so many ways it’s like having many toys in one. The game comes complete with a plastic apple game base with built in timer, 20 wooden worms with colored tails, and 24 colored worm cards and instructions. Set the timer by pulling the lever and cute little worms bounce up and down randomly in the big red apple, just waiting to be picked. Worms can only be pulled out of their holes by using a pincer (thumb and index finger) or tripod (thumb, index and middle finger) grasp, making Squiggly Worms a great way to develop, refine, and strengthen various

grasp patterns. Asking children to hold many of the worms at once when placing them into the apple is a way to improve in hand manipulation skills. For younger children Squiggly worms can be used for following simple directions, color recognition and matching, sequencing, and to improve fine motor and for development of various grasp patterns and strength. For older children, 5 cards of a specific color are dealt to each player. Then it’s a race against the clock as children try to retrieve 5 worms

of that color before the timer runs out. If they pick the wrong color, it needs to be placed back into the apple and the next player has a turn. The player with the most worms wins. The game is small and lightweight for great portability and

can be played individually or with up to 4 players. Though the company suggests ages 4 and up due to small parts, when supervised carefully and modified, younger children can play as well. What’s even better is there is no need for batteries.


Therapeutic Benefits: • • •

Develops, refines, and strengthens fine motor skills, in hand manipulation skills and grasp patterns. Aids in teaching color recognition, matching, patterns, counting, & one to one correspondence. Improves ability to follow simple directions.

• • • •

Improves bilateral hand use and hand eye coordination. Timer provides auditory feedback to decrease sensitivity to auditory stimuli. Improves hand eye coordination. Social skills such as self esteem, good sportsmanship, and following directions.

To have your book or product reviewed contact us at (347) 466-6960 or You can also mail items to:

Jewish Press

Pocket Full Of Therapy NEW 2009 Catalog This Summer Improve Skills while having Fun!


80 • Building Blocks • December 2009

Building Blocks Review Dept. 338 - 3rd Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11215-1897 Chaya (Ilene) Klass, MS, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist who works for the Board of Education and treats children in the community. Breindy Rosenblatt MS CCC-SLP TSHH is the Speech Supervisor at the Auditory Oral School of New York/ StriVright to Succeed.

PRODUCT REVIEWS AblePlay Go To 5/14/2009 2:44:13 PM

Mega Mountain and Mini Mountain

Zillio bills itself as a zillion ways to play math. Viewing this mountain of different colored steps and foam numbered pieces, one has to wonder how this spinning colorful wheel can teach math. Well, in the mini-mountain there are steps that are divided by two critical math concepts: number lines and times tables. At first it looks confusing and complicated. However, a quick look-over and the reading of some easy-to-follow directions simplifies things. It’s Treasure Trove with lid is easily accessed from reaching the top of every staircase. This is the perfect

Play Products for children with special needs

the games. Children with all abilities to learn can use Zillio to incorporate their different senses as a learning tool. With the use of visual, tactile, and kinesthetic elements, Zillio meets the learning styles of most children. Zillio is useful for children from Pre-K level to 6th grade. Skills taught include counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, number lines, ratios, equivalency and algebra. C





Mini Mountain

size to hide small reinforcers. Adding reinforcers to the Treasure Trove makes playing math games motivating. Children believe they are playing and not learning. It is easy to set up counting games for early learners with the aid of rolling dice – they count the numbers on the dice and move up that many steps. For intermediate level learners addition is incorporated to many of




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Mini Mountain


Mega Mountain


Independent evaluation by National Lekotek Center

Therapeutic Benefits: • •

A hands on, multi-sensory approach to learning math Socialization such as turn taking,

good sportsmanship and self esteem Following directions and sequencing of tasks

Children love Zillio. At home. At school. At play. Exciting, powerful models of math based on times tables and number lines. Through hands on play, children learn and make connections between 10 essential math skills. Players compete and collaborate in 20+ imaginative games designed for different skill levels and fun for ages 4 to 94. Plus 50 additional activities for visual & kinesthetic learners

Educational Toy Math Manipulative

Educational Game

“I have a student who frequently asks for a break with each math problem. I brought in the mountain and he didn’t take a break for an entire 30 min…You bet the mountain is going to be a staple with us! ” 4th grade special education teacher Cumming, GA

Visit to learn more December 2009 • Building Blocks • 81

PRODUCT REVIEWS Featured Items Keyboard Town PALS software is PC and MAC

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Sens-ational Hug Tee

SmartKnitKIDS® Seamless Sensitivity Socks

Hand Tool Kit

All your “hand tools” in a convenient kit! Great with the Give Yourself a Hand screening, as part of the classroom “hand” station, or to allow students to try various grips and pencils and find their most comfortable writing tools. Contains: Stetro Grip, Triangular Grip, The Pencil Grip, Jumbo and Regular Triangular Pencils, Child’s Learning Scissors, Handi-Writer, Finger Top, “Magic” Penny, Clothes Pin, Mini Tongs and Pom Poms.

compatible and can be delivered as a CD-ROM or web based. This is the only stress-free program on the market. There are no repetitive games, boring drills, timed-tests, or grades. Puppets use music, humor and memory techniques to teach touch typing in an hour.



New shirts give kids all-day sensory input by providing deep reassuring pressure that feels like a hug. Organic Cottonspandex blend is seamless and tagless! Can be worn as a tee or as an undergarment. In solid colors or with graphics.


Hot Dots

Practice key early learning skills with fun activities using our talking pen friend. Targets colors, letters, numbers, shapes, patterns and more in an engaging game play format. Features Talking Hot Dots® Pen with lights and sound effects that guide children through 160 different activities. Includes 80 richly illustrated, double-sided Activity Cards that are pressure-sensitive and work with Talking Hot Dots® Pen Prices Vary



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Potts and Friends

Come Sign with Us

Teach babies how to sign while reading fun stories about everyday events. A rainbow of color coded words help you learn, teach and remember signs. Introducing the first two stories in a tent styled book series, Come Sign with Us: The Adventures of Potts and Friends. Talking with Baby uses American Sign Language.

82 • Building Blocks • December 2009



Discovery Station™


SmartKnitKIDS® patented seamless socks are perfect for children experiencing sensory processing differences, hypersensitivity or who simply can’t stand annoying seams! These super soft socks for sensitive little feet will not wrinkle or bunch and are proven to reduce irritation.

This is the first-ever bilingual (English & Spanish) home-based intervention plan for speech language pathologists, early childhood interventionists, and parents. Concise Bilingual Parent Handbooks Included! Early Childhood Therapy Sessions Planned for a Year! Includes, Intervention activities, parent strategies,signing instructions, parent handbooks and easy data collection


Body Challenge Cards

Learn while you exercise! Includes twenty-five cards each containing a script of how to teach the exercise along with several suggested academic challenges. For instance, spell words from the vocabulary list while performing Angels in the Snow or count by 2’s while doing an “angel.” Beautifully illustrated and VERY effective for working within an inclusive model. A must for therapists and teachers!


Hatchbacks Elites

Designed for integrating computers in a special needs classroom. • Prepackaged software suite that develops essential learning / academic and life skills . • Digital tools that transform life experiences into learning activities • Student tracking and assessment • Friendly, inviting student learning environment

www.earlylearningstation .com (888) 825 -0620 Tech4Everyone


Finally, there is a way to teach your child kriah (to read Hebrew) in a non-stressful, easy, fun, and motivating manner. KriahMaster™ is a new and unique reading program, based on the well-known and proven Orton-Gillingham method of instruction. It is for children who experience difficulty in all areas of language. (206) 984-5733

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A new line of shoes designed specifically to address the needs of children wearing AFO’s, DAFO’s, and orthotics. It shoe incorporates a patented Rear-Entry hinge system called “Easy Fit” that’s as simple as 1, 2, 3. The “Easy Fit” system is designed to facilitate ease of entry and egress from the shoe by pivoting open at the hinge. The shoe remains firmly closed by a Velcro fastener that is also very easy to use.


Learn about money with this fun and interactive coin-counting calculator! Each realistic coin and dollar button makes a sound when pressed. Use the Coin-U-Lator to count money, teach the value of different coins, determine how much money is needed to make a purchase, and more! There’s a switch to change the math activity from addition to subtraction, as well as a variety of fun sounds for reinforcement.


BOOK REVIEWS By Bracha Holczer

Book Reviews Title: No More Meltdowns

child was fighting in response to perceived rejection when trying

Author: Jed Baker, Ph.D, Published by: Future Horizons, Inc., Texas, Year: 2008 Dr. Baker has had lots of experience dealing with children prone to meltdowns, and has also written about social skills training. Here, he discusses the entire meltdown process and presents a system for helping a child turn away from out-ofcontrol behavior in as positive a way as possible. This book is designed to stop the power struggles that so often develop between caregivers and strong-minded children with difficult temperaments. His four-step model of accepting and appreciating your child, deescalating a meltdown, understanding why a meltdown keeps recurring, and creating plans to prevent meltdowns, is accessible and realistic. Some useful meltdown-preventing plans are provided as samples, such as dealing with teasing and bullying, dealing with jealousy, dealing with picky eating, and what even the author acknowledges is the most complicated, going to bed at night. He shows how to carefully analyze the behavior cycle in repetitive meltdowns in order to avoid the meltdowns in the first place. As stressful as they seem to be, meltdowns are obviously the best way the child can deal with a situation, given the understandings and skills he has at his disposal. Avoiding negative triggers when possible and providing the child with necessary skills is key. He describes a boy who fights with peers, then gets upset at the punishments and ostracism. Then Baker explains how he realizes that the

Title: The Early Intervention Guidebook for Families and Professionals: Partnering for Success

Anyone who feels the need to become more knowledgeable about the early intervention process will find this book to be a powerful and informative resource. A current focus of early intervention is to include the whole family. A brief but comprehensive guide to early child development emphasizes how a wellfunctioning family helps guide development. Any support the family needs can be part of the early intervention plan, along with the familiar therapies for the child. Suggestions are presented for ensuring that accurate methods of assessment are used. While families and professionals are often focused on what the child is not doing, they are reminded to also assess strengths. Implications of when and where the assessment will take place are explored as social and physical environments impact performance. An example is given of a child who can self-feed effectively at home but not at daycare. This was caused by a better physical support (highchair vs. simple toddler chair) and different social situation (quiet, with a parent close by vs. noisy with boisterous children) at home. One of the strategies suggested was to use a chair with arms at day-care, and new self-feeding goals were developed. The steps to designing an outcomespecific plan are specified.

This book urges the “early intervention partnership” (the family, teachers, and all professionals involved) to look at, “What makes it challenging or easy for the child to learn, develop, and express his competencies?” They are encouraged to create opportunities for the child to learn and practice naturally during routine activities as much as possible. Families of children participating in intervention may already have a full schedule, and adding tasks can do more harm than good. Also, learning skills when they have a real function (waving good-bye to siblings as they leave in the morning) is more likely to “stick” as opposed to when a task is artificial (waving goodbye to the same person who keeps exiting and immediately re-entering the room). The author stresses that in early intervention, unlike accounting or law where a professional acts for the client and remains the expert, the professional helps the family become the expert and be able to encourage development even when the professionals are not there. The author also urges family and professional collaboration in using community resources such as playgrounds and museums. Specific scenarios, laws, legal terminology and practical applications for each concept are spelled out. A careful check-

Author: Bonnie Keilty Published by: Teachers College Press, NY, NY Year: 2010

to join games and after arguing over calls about game rules. The behavior plan included instruction about how and when to join games, how to interpret temporary rejection, and see the bigger picture of spending less time arguing and more time playing as well as having more children interested in playing with him. Minor changes were made in the way the adults oversaw play at recess. Natural consequences, especially when the child can instantly see how rewarding good behavior can be, are encouraged. Punishments and losses of privileges are used only when the child has ignored the positive methods he knows how to use despite reminders. “Hidden rewards” is a useful concept presented in this book, where children are taught, for example, about having more time to play with a favored game before school if one gets ready for school without dawdling. Using this book as a guide, parents, teachers, therapists and their charges will see power struggles and constant meltdowns decrease, and can expect a happier, more trusting relationship. u

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 83

BOOK REVIEWS Book Review - Continued from Previous Page

list is included as an appendix to help oversee a thorough and family-oriented approach to early intervention. Sometimes, knowing what to ask for is half the battle, and this book is chock-full of “insider information” to guide families and professionals in their shared quest - to further the development of the children.

heart of the beholder. Joy, creativity, and curiosity mixed

Title: Play and Imagination in Children with Autism

Author: Pamela J. Wolfberg Published simultaneously by: Teachers College Press, NY, NY, and Autism Asperger Publishing Company, Overland Park, KS Year: 2009 Watching children play is a pastime that gladdens the

with a sometimes-serious focus and sometimes-silly antics are hallmarks of child’s play. Who among us parents, teachers and other children-lovers can resist the urge to “listen in” when two small children play or have a conversation? Invariably, we are rewarded with a cute tidbit to

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The Early Intervention Guidebook for Families and Professionals

Partnering for Success Bonnie Keilty “A much-needed guide to early intervention for both families and professionals.” —R. A. McWilliam, Director, Siskin Center for Child and Family Research ��� pages���Paperback, ���.��

Play and Imagination in Children with Autism

Second Edition Pamela J. Wolfberg “Dr. Wolfberg once again guides us in a highly engaging manner in supporting social and play development for children with ASD.” —Barry M. Prizant Brown University ��� pages���Paperback, ���.��

����� �����! Teachers College Columbia University

84 • Building Blocks • December 2009


share with an appreciative audience later. Children with autism play, too. However, their play is starkly different than neurotypical children. In this book, the author, using numerous research studies, compares the way children with and without autism play qualitatively. With the premise of children needing to play in order to help them understand and take part of the social world around them, she examines the causes and consequences of the impaired play present in children with autism along with the interrelated social and communication issues. Pamela Wolfberg has been focusing on inclusive peer play programs for children with autism since soon after she began teaching children with autism in her class. She very much wanted to learn how to better serve their needs. Her training as a play therapist and subsequent world travels, where she observed children in many cultures learn to navigate their own cultures utilizing play, brought her to this interesting focus. Much like children with learning disabilities, who miss out on early learning and then fall further and further behind academically without proper assistance, children with autism who are not helped to play miss out on specific learning opportunities. A child who never or rarely pretends with objects (this doll is my baby and she is hungry, my tower of blocks is a school) may not fully develop an imagination or creativity, while a child who does not play with others loses increasingly more opportunities to practice socially accepted behavior and becomes increasingly socially ostracized. Until recently, play was not treated as a teachable skill, and Wolfberg set out to alleviate the problem by developing the

Integrated Play Groups (IPG) model described in the book. This model involves scaffolding, where more experienced partners or teachers adjust assistance to correspond to the levels the child being taught can handle independently. Small groups of capable peer playpartners are arranged with an adult facilitating, with the goal being to minimize and eventually diminish adult guidance. Wolfberg’s goal with this book is to provide a resource for those who study and support enriching play in children with autism. She does not believe that play is a luxury goal to be addressed only after more basic concerns, as better play encourages positive skills in the core deficits social and communication - of autism. With solid, thorough research, this book is a serious read, ideal for parents and educators searching for an inclusive, positive approach to helping children with autism expand their play repertoire and interact with peers. The detailed case studies presented lighten the seriousness of the reading while offering a positive and hopeful but still realistic outlook. It is truly fascinating to read about the successes and challenges elementary-aged children with autism experience as they explore the functions social skills while they play. u

Title: Social Skills Solutions A Hands-on Manual for Teaching Social Skills to Children with Autism

Authors: Kelly McKinnon, M.A. BCBA and Janis Krempa, M.Ed. BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) Published by: DRL Books, Inc., NY, NY Year: 2002 Imagine being a child and not

BOOK REVIEWS knowing what to do at recess. Here it is, the highlight of the school day for everyone else, but you are on the sidelines, unable to even try joining in. The glue that creates friendships - social skills - does not come naturally for many children with autism spectrum disorders or learning, language or emotional disorders. Teachers and parents try to encourage and promote friendships, but what is most useful is a systematic approach to teaching the myriads of concepts included in social skills. After working extensively with children and adults with limited social skills and their families,

Title: Accidental Courage, Boundless Dreams

the authors have developed this practical and accessible program to assess and teach social skills. Developed specifically for children with autism spectrum disorders, the program is compatible with applied behavioral analysis (ABA) methodology. It is purposefully sequential and ensures children are scaffolded on a path that integrates social skills rather than jumping around trying to master assorted isolated target skills. The authors present the skills grouped in modules that cover specific areas of social function in a supportive order, beginning with joint attention (ex. maintain-

during the painful fight for Jonathan’s life, through Authors: Amy Jaffe Barzach his last smile, and & Sandy Tovray Greenberg through the black Published by: Aurora Pub- days afterward. We find the sunshine lishing, West Hartford, CT again with them Year: 2001 and rejoice as the Accidental Courage, Boundless family relearns to Dreams represents a dream lost loves life and even but many more created. Tears expands. of empathy, pain and sadness Jonathan’s death will mix with those of hope, joy, at nine months of and inspiration as you read this age, however, is a catalyst for book. an amazing outcome. Despite From the very first page, overwhelming, paralyzing a reader is swept up as Amy grief (which the reader is not Barzach (with Sandy Tovray spared), despite knowing that Greenberg’s help) eloquently nothing will bring the precious relives the soaring joy of moth- baby back, a family who buried ering two a child before healthy boys his first birthlovingly with day finds a her husband way to allow and then his cheerful the abrupt and smiling fall into to a nature live on. whirlpool of Barzach, insadness when spired by a litJonathan’s Dream suspicions tle wheelchairunder construction that “somebound girl thing is terribly wrong” with unable to play with other chilher baby were being irrevers- dren in a playground, and her ibly confirmed with testing and family act in Jonathan’s mema diagnosis. She takes us with ory in a grand way. Through her through the ups and downs sheer determination and with

ing eye contact) and greetings (ex. acknowledging others), moving to conversation (ex. responding to another person’s language thoughtfully) and friendships (ex. making a friend through a play date), and more. Skills in each module are classified into three levels of depth, and all three levels are assessed, taught within the program (without waiting for naturally occurring learning situations as they do not occur often enough for mastery according to the authors) and then practiced in real life. The comprehensive Social Skills Checklist is designed for use as both a pre- and postteaching assessment tool to mea-

sure baseline and acquired skills across all social behaviors and the three levels. Although the program is very clear and easy to use, complete with every helpful reproducible

the goodwill dren, about Jonathan who died of many kind- of spinal muscular atrophy and hearted gen- the pain of his family, about liverous people, ing after a loved one’s death and organizations ultimately enjoying sunshine, and companies, about having more children afthey succeeded ter the death of a sick child. It is in having a play- not only about the playground ground built built in his memory for all chilwhere all chil- dren to enjoy or about the next dren can play, wave - the numerous individuswing and have als and communities who were fun. Designed inspired to build similar playwith the ac- grounds, or even about how tual wishes of differently-abled Amy Barzach, thrilled with this children taken into account, fi- development, supports and nanced through seemingly im- guides new projects through possible funding arrangements her Boundless Playgrounds and built with assistance from program. volunteers, the playground that Accidental Courage, Boundless Dreams was previously is more than only a figment a sum of its of imaginaparts. It is an tion became a inspirational laughter-filled testimony of reality in West what people Hartford, CT. can achieve, Called Jonadespite overthan’s Dream, whelming the playground Ribbon cutting cermony for loss, with is currently enJonathan’s Dream dreams in joyed by countless children with and without their hearts and sheer determination. Reading this story is an disabilities side by side. This multi-faceted story de- experience that may inspire the fies categorization. It is not only reader in wonderful unpredicta story about special needs chil- able ways. Enjoy! u December 2009 • Building Blocks • 85

BOOK REVIEWS Book Review - Continued from Previous Page

form and uncluttered, focused visual aids, there is training aspect offered through presentation of a child’s completed checklist and suggested teaching plan that can be incorporated into that child’s individualized education plan (IEP). Tips for parents and for training paraprofessionals are included as well to ensure a completely supportive environment for the child in the social skills training program. One effective training method is using peers to teach and reinforce social skills, and very clear criteria is set forth to accomplish this. Social Skills Solutions offers an easy and ready to use program that does not require extensive preparations in the hands of already knowledgeable teachers of children with autism spectrum disorders, and is definitely a valuable addition to an educator’s or parent’s resources. The checklist will quickly become an indispensable tool. With some modifications, this program may apply to other populations with impaired social functioning as well. u

Title: On Their Own Creating an Independent Future for Your Adult Child with Learning Disabilities and ADHD

Author: Anne Ford Published by: Newmarket Press, NY, NY Year: 2007 On Their Own is all about what happens after we’ve finished nurturing LD children through the preschool, elementary, middle, and high school years. After spending nearly every waking moment procuring assessments, diagnoses, therapies, and accommodations, parents of children with LD/ADHD are left with the wide-open question of “now what?” The daunting “What do you want to do when you grow up?” takes an immediate ur86 • Building Blocks • December 2009

gency, but there may still not be a workable answer. In this highly informative, warm, and personal book, Anne Ford relates her own experiences, along with those of other parents of grown LD children, and the decisions they must still help their grown-up children make. Different types of jobs and careers present different challenges and preparation requirements. Securing admittance to and succeeding at college is no simple matter for a LD adult, however, a college degree is necessary for obtaining employment in certain fields. In college, there are no IEPs and LD students must learn to advocate for themselves. Ford ably guides parents through the legal and practical systems that are available during college and when taking important tests, obtaining financial aid, finding vocational programs, and related issues. Advice is given to adults who, despite extensive efforts, are unable to function properly in specific areas of their lives. They may have an undiagnosed learning disability, and Anne encourages them to do what is necessary now to improve the rest of their lives. A very important part of this book is the discussion about how the adult with LD fares in the real world. A person who has a diagnosed difficulty with organization or time management, or whose very literal comprehension level precludes sharing in jokes around the proverbial

water cooler may encounter failure despite competency at a job. How many bosses or co-workers are patient enough to answer basic questions repeatedly until an adult with memory issues is confident? She offers practical advice to parents about continuing to ‘”o their job and be good parents”, while allowing the adult LD to maintain the independence they deserve, both in the academic/career area and in personal life - for example, dating and marriage. Tough issues are faced in this book, including preparing siblings to be able to handle emergencies with their LD sibling. Proper documentation needs to be maintained of all services, identification numbers, bank accounts, medications and more, and the LD adult may not be able to handle all of this. Plans must be made and shared about living arrangements, care, and finances of these adults after their parents die. On Their Own serves as a guidebook and reminder to take care of necessary tasks that are often left in an awkward jumble of procrastination. The immensely encouraging final part, “Interviews: Advice for Parents from Prominent People with LD” is a grand finale. This chapter is not simply the old “Einstein had learning disabilities and look what he was able to do!” Current famous individuals open up about their painful struggles with LD, sources of self-esteem and what they did to get where they are. On Their Own is a wonderful resource for parents of LD children of any age. Parents of younger LD children can certainly benefit from the insights into the future, and parents of older children and adults can always use encouragement in the intensive parenting efforts their children may continue to require. u

Title: French Fries

Author: Lilli Z. Mayerson Published by: Shires Press, Manchester Center, VT Year: 2009

A family with a special needs child may become focused so strongly on that child that the other children feel resentful and neglected, despite having all their physical needs taken care of. Written for siblings of children with an autism spectrum disorder, French Fries by Lilli Z. Mayerson tells it like it is. Like it feels. Mel, the main character, who has a little brother with autism, describes with relevant details how her own life is affected by her brother’s care, therapies, and behavior, for example, his unwillingness to share anything, even french fries. The illustrations are realistic and really help convey the emotions involved, as does the way the text is printed. The love between the mother and the children in the story is heart-warming and promotes a positive attitude. The overall tone is not complaining or kvetchy, simply informative and heart-felt. Reading French Fries as a family or parent-child activity could open useful lines of communication in a family undergoing tremendous stress or even just coasting along while handling life with a sibling with autism (or any special need). The result of this activity could only be increased understanding, stronger relationships, and positive changes. u

Bracha Holczer is a reading specialist. She has taught reading with the New York City Department of Education and currently acts as a consultant while at home raising her children. She can be reached at

BOOK REVIEWS Titles: The Usborne Book of Everyday Words, Jobs, That’s Not My Monkey... Ted and Friends, Dogs, Reptiles

Published by: Usborne Books Authors & Illustrators: Varied Years: 1999-2009 Much of children’s education is based in language, and books are an excellent medium for all sorts of language activities. The best books are ones children would choose on their own, because when an intrinsic interest and self-motivation kicks in, the necessary attention and focus is heightened. Usborne Books offers a rich assortment of highly motivating books that will quickly become invaluable to teachers, parents and therapists and children. An early language goal is vocabulary development and concept books are an excellent resource. Usborne present familiar concepts in clear, bright, and carefully arranged books, both as board books and with traditional soft pages. Everyday Words is a tantalizing visual dictionary with built-in motivators to plant new words and encourage categorizing and making connections. Jobs from their Look and Say series depict basic careers and their settings. Adorable, detailed clay figures with fabric and paper accents are used to illustrate action scenes of common activities and places, such as a classroom, actions, or things to eat. Some pages present concepts in an array format with individual small clearly labeled pictures - for example, things to wear. Other pages contain a large detailed scene full of related items and people engaged in activities. A wonderful feature of those pages is that some details are isolated and repeated in the white border

around the larger picture, so the important aspects are instantly highlighted to form a fun ‘search and find’ game. Among other concept books this company offers are touchy feely books that give tactile experiences in related groups, as in “That’s Not My Monkey...” In this book, the various parts of a monkey’s body are highlighted with fabric or plastic patches and described as velvety, hairy, smooth, etc. The text is deliberately simple, repetitive, and on-topic, and the illustrations are also extremely focused but contain a select few additional details to enrich the language used when reading the book. Usborne Books offers other titles in these series to expand the experience and develop concepts as necessary. Another category of musthave books is easy reading. Children learning phonics must be able to use their skills successfully and nothing squelches early reading as much as phonics books with stilted language and boring plots. Fortunately, Usborne offers an easily decodable phonics oriented collection called Ted and Friends. These books use enjoyable language and center on humorous, interesting plots and an assortment of adorable animals who get into all sorts of situations, and many pages feature a fold out with a surprise or a plot twist.

Cheerful pictures encourage comprehension and support the decoding. Regular (decodable) as well as some irregular words are included. For each story there a list of phonemes used (sounds represented by a letter or letter combinations that are put together to form words: b-i-g, d-ow-n) as well as the irregular words (says, what) can help teachers ensure the students are wellprepared to read independently. Nonfiction books fill a growing need within children for increasing knowledge about topics of their choosing. Children love becoming experts about specific periods in history, certain animals, places, and random other ideas, and are known to study books at higher levels than they might otherwise

attempt, just to learn facts about their fascinations. Usborne Books has a series geared to fill this need called Information for Young Readers. It contains books about more than 40 specific topics on different levels. The books contain lots of information grouped helpfully and presented with related drawings and photos. Close-ups, fun facts in highlighted areas, and sequentially arranged diagrams (ex. how snakes shed skin) highlight important facts. Children and students of all language development levels and reading abilities need a variety of motivating books around them. Usborne Books is a wonderful source for books to add to growing libraries, give as gifts to children and educators, and just to have around. u

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 87


The listing below is intended to serve as a starting point for family members, professionals and care givers seeking programs, institutions and service providers designed for special needs individuals and their families within the Jewish community. Building Blocks does not specifically endorse any of

those listed. Readers are urged to contact them individually for more information. You must make your own determination as to whether the services and programs they offer are appropriate for your specific case. Also note, that languages are in addition to English.

Early Intervention Approved Programs AHRC NY Address: 83 Maiden Lane, New York, NY


Phone: (212) 780-2500 The Auditory Oral School of New York/ StriVright to Succeed Address: 3623 Ave L, Brooklyn, NY 11210 Phone: 718-531-1800 Website: Location: Home and Center

Services Provided: ABA, floor time, sensory integration, speech language therapy, auditory-verbal therapy, audiological testing and central auditory processing (CAPD) evaluations, OT, PT, special instruction and other services.

Birch Family Services Inc Address: 104 W. 29th St, 3rd Floor, NY, NY

10001-5310 Phone: (212) 616-1800

Center for Hearing and Communication (formerly League for the Hard of Hearing) Address: 50 Broadway, 6th floor, New York,

NY 10004 Phone: (917) 305-7700 Website: Location: Center Services Provided: Auditory oral speech and language therapy (individual and group)

Challenge Early Intervention Center Address: 649 39th Street, Brooklyn, NY

11232 MILESTONES IN SPECIAL NEEDS Circa 1300 BCE G-d selects Moses as the leader and lawgiver of the Jewish people, despite a serious speech impediment.

88 • Building Blocks • December 2009

Location 2: 70-14 141st Street, Flushing, NY


Location 3: 1911 Richmond Ave, Staten Island, NY 10314 Phone: (718) 972-0880 Location: Home and Center

Services Provided: ABA , sensory integration, Medek, multidisciplinary evaluations, speech therapy, special instruction, occupational therapy, physical therapy, family counseling, social work services, family training, nutrition services, psychological services, vision services, assistive technology, audiology, service coordination, individual and group developmental services

Hamaspik of Rockland County Address: 58 Route 59, Suite 1, Monsey, NY


Phone: (845) 356-8400 Hand in Hand Development, Inc Address: 465 Grand St, 2nd Floor, New York,

NY 10002 Phone: (212) 420-1999 ext. 149 Location: Home and Center

Hebrew Academy for Special Children – Preschool Address: 1311 55th Street Phone: (718) 851-6100 Website: Location: Home and Center Services Provided: Floor time, sensory in-

tegration, Medek, service coordination initial and ongoing, family counseling, play therapy, music therapy, parent support groups, PT, OT, Speech, Counseling, family training, vision therapy, feeding therapy, nutrition, music therapy, augmentative communication, computer technology, PECS, services provided in Yiddish, Hebrew , and Russian

IncludEd Educational Services Address: 445 Central Ave, Suite 111, Cedar-

hurst, NY 11516 Phone: (516) 374-3377 Website: Location: Home

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY Early Intervention Approved Programs Continued… Jumpstart Early Intervention Program Address: 3914 15th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 853-9700 Location: Home Services Provided: Sensory integration,

Medek, family counseling, play therapy

Los Niños services Address: 535 8th Avenue, 2nd floor, New

York, NY 10018 Phone: (212) 787-9700 Website: Location: Home Services Provided: Speech, occupational, physical therapy, social work, psychology, special education, service coordination, evaluations, development and parent/child groups

McCarton Center Address: 350 East 82nd Street, New York, NY


Phone: (212) 996-9019 Website: Location: Center Services Provided: ABA, sensory integration, S & L therapy, educational testing

Netcare, Inc. Address: 1662 Ocean Ave. Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 677-4140 Website: Location: Home Services Provided: Sensory integration, EI

evaluations, OT, PT, speech, special instruction, nutrition, psych, social work, case management, CPSE evaluations

New York League for Early Learning Address: 460 W. 34th St, 11th Flr, New York,

NY 10001 Phone: (212) 264-1640

Omni Childhood Center Address: 1651 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn,

NY 11230 Phone: (718) 998-1415 Website: Location: Home

Services Provided: ABA, floor time, sensory integration, Medek, family counseling, play therapy, music therapy, parent support groups Otsar Family Services Address: 2334 W. 13th St., Brooklyn, NY


Phone: 718-946-7301 Website: Location: Home Services Provided: Parent support groups and family counseling

School for Children with Hidden Intelligence Address: 345 Oak Street, Lakewood, NJ

The Early Childhood Direction Center of Brooklyn (ECDC) 160 Lawrence Avenue (Off Ocean Parkway) Brooklyn, NY 11230-1103 718-437-3794

Linking children birth to age 5 with special needs and their families to community & support services Locally sponsored by United Cerebral Palsy of New York City

We can help you!

Information and referrals Workshops for parents & professionals Funded by the NYS Education Department/Office of VESID


Phone: (732) 886-0900 Website: Location: Home Services Provided: ABA, floor time, sen-

sory integration, family counseling, support groups

Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices Address: 4302 New Utrecht Ave, Brooklyn,

NY 11219 Phone: (718) 686-9600 Website: Location: Home and Center Services Provided: ABA

Step By Step Infant Development Center Address: 1049 38th Street Phone: 718-633-6666 Website: Location: Home and Center Services Provided: ABA, sensory integra-

tion, Medek, OT. PT. ST, special instruction, parent training, nutrition, vision, auditory training, family counseling, music and art therapy, parent support groups, swimming, respite. MILESTONES IN SPECIAL NEEDS 1821

Louis Braille invents the system bearing his name which allows the blind to read and write.

MILESTONES IN SPECIAL NEEDS 1887 Seven year-old Helen Keller, who is deaf and blind, meets Anne Sullivan, who, over the next 50 years teaches her to become a role model, showing the world how even the most severe disabilities can be overcome.

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 89

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY Pesach Tikvah Door Of Hope Family & Children Services PESACH TIKVAH HOPE DEVELOPMENT, INC.

18 Middleton Street Brooklyn, NY 11206 Tel: 718-875-6900 Fax: 718-875-6999 Web: E-Mail:

• Services for Children with Special Needs • Recovery Based Residences • Respite Program • Family Counseling Center • Psychiatric Assessment and Treatment • Continuing Day Treatment Program • Holocaust Survivors Program • Summer Program for Children with Developmental Disabilities


Early Intervention Approved Programs Continued… YAI Network Address: 460 West 34th Street, 11th Floor,

New York, NY 10001 Phone: (212) 273-6182 Website: Location: Home and Center Services Provided: ABA, Floor Time, Sensory integration, Counseling, parent support groups, family counseling

Yedei Chesed Address: 48 Scotland Hill Road, Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977

Phone: (845) 425-0887


Phone: (718) 853-1750 Website: Location: Home, Center, Will send providers


to private schools Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally Disturbed, Multiply Handicapped Services: SEIT, OT, PT, Speech, Play therapy/ counseling, ABA, Floor time, sensory integration Languages: Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian, Spanish Additional Info: State approved

the organization for Orthodox Mental Health Professionals

PO Box 3027 Teaneck NJ 07666 T:201-384-0084 F:201-384-0018


The United States elects Franklin D. Roosevelt, who is confined to a wheelchair due to poliomyelitis, to serve as president.

90 • Building Blocks • December 2009

py, music therapy, parent support groups

Yeled V’Yalda Early Childhood Center Address: 1312 38th Street, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 686-3700 Website: Location: Home and Center Services Provided: ABA, Sensory integration, Medek, play therapy, parent support groups

CPSE Schools or Centers (3-5) Aim High Children’s Services Address: 202 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

a free service provided by

Website: Location: Home Services Provided: Counseling, play thera-

The Auditory Oral School of New York Address: 3623 Ave L, Brooklyn, NY 11210 Phone: (718) 531-1800 Website: Location: Home, Center, Will send providers

to private schools Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Hearing impaired Services: SEIT, OT, PT, Speech, Play therapy/ counseling, ABA, Floor time, sensory integration, speech language therapy, auditory-oral therapy, OT, PT, hearing education services and other services Languages: Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian, Spanish, ASL, Urdu, Farsi, Cantonese, Mandarin Addl. Info: State approved

Bais Kinder Afterschool Program Address: 5804 17th Avenue Brooklyn, New

York 11204 Phone: (917) 929-9307 Location: Center Population: Mild developmental delays Services: SEIT

Bright Smile Center Address: 1051 59th St, Brooklyn, NY 11219 Phone: (718) 437-5774 Location: Home, Center, Will send providers

to private schools Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired Services: SEIT, OT, PT, Speech, Play therapy/ counseling, ABA, Sensory Integration Languages: Yiddish, Hebrew, Cantonese, Mandarin, Urdu, Hindu

Center for Hearing and Communication (formerly League for the Hard of Hearing) Address: 50 Broadway, 6th floor, New York,

NY 10004 Phone: (917) 305-7700 Website: Location: Center Population: Hearing impaired Services provided: Speech, Auditory oral speech and language therapy

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY CPSE Schools or Centers (3-5) Continued… Comprehensive Kids Developmental School Address: 99 Essex St., New York, NY 10002 Phone: (212) 566-8855 Location: Home, Center, Will send providers

HASC@Remsen Address: 555 Remsen Avenue, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: 718-495- 3510 Website: Location: Center Population: Mild to moderate to severe de-

to private schools Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PPD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ADHD, Emotionally disturbed Services: SEIT, OT, PT, Speech, Play Therapy/ Counseling, ABA Languages: Chinese, Korean, Yiddish, Greek, Russian

velopmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired Services: OT, PT, Speech, Play therapy/counseling, ABA, Sensory Integration

Hand in Hand Development, Inc Address: 465 Grand St, 2nd Floor, New York,

New York 11598 Phone: (516) 295-1340

The Haven for Stuttering, PLLC Address: 17 Pennington Way, Spring Valley,

HASC Center, Inc Address: 5601 First Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220 Phone: 718-535-1953 Website: Location: Center Population: Mild & Moderate to severe de-

NY 10002 Phone: (212) 420-1999 ext. 149

NY 10977 Phone: (718) 490-5076 Website: Location: Center Population: Mild to severe stutterers, Speech & Language impaired, Learning disabled, Emotionally disturbed Services: Speech, Play Therapy/Counseling Languages: Hebrew, Spanish We are a private practice privately funded which provides speech language diagnostics and treatment for those who stutter, ages 3-adulthood.

Hebrew Academy for Special Children Address: 1311 55th Street Phone: (718) 851-6100 Website: Location: Home, Center, Will send providers

to private schools Population: Mild to Moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Services: SEIT, OT, PT, Speech, Play therapy/ counseling, Floor Time, Sensory Integration, Medek, Yoga, music therapy, computers, feeding therapy, sensory integration, augmentative communication Languages: Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian Addl. Info: State approved

HASC Woodmere Address: 321 Woodmere Blvd., Woodmere,

velopmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired

HASC Summer Program – Camp HASC Address: 5902 – 14th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 686-5930 Website: Location: Center Population: Mild to moderate to severe

developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Multiply handicapped Services: SEIT, OT, PT, Speech, Play therapy/ counseling, ABA, Floor Time, Sensory Integration, MEDEK Languages: Yiddish, Hebrew

A Helping Hand Address: 703 East 4th Street Phone: (718) 435-7464 Location: Home, Will send providers to pri-

vate schools

Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD Services: ABA, SEIT Languages: Yiddish, Hebrew

MILESTONES IN SPECIAL NEEDS 1963 HASC (Hebrew Academy for Special Children) Programs is established to provide educational and clinical services to individuals from infancy through adulthood who exhibit developmental delays.


Congress amends the Social Security law to establish the Medicare social insurance program, which provides health insurance coverage to people who meet certain special needs criteria in addition to those who are aged 65 and over.

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 91

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY CPSE Schools or Centers (3-5) Continuedâ&#x20AC;Ś


Helen Keller Services for the Blind Address: 57 Willoughby St, Brooklyn, NY



Phone: (718) 998-1415 Website: Ask your child, 6â&#x20AC;&#x201C;9 yearsLocation: old to see they can to private Will if send providers


Phone: (718) 522-2122


IncludEd Educational Services Location 1: 445 Central Ave, Suite 111, Ce-


darhurst, NY 11516 Phone: 516-374-3377 Location 2: 45 Main St., Kew Gardens Hills, NY 11367 Phone: (718) 263-5437 Website: Location: Home, Center, Will send providers to private schools Population: Mild developmental delays, Speech & Language impaired Services: SEIT, OT, PT, Speech, Play Therapy/ counseling Language: Hebrew, Farsi, Spanish


Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Services: SEIT, OT, PT, Speech, Play therapy/ counseling, ABA, Floor Time, Sensory Integration, Medek Languages: Yiddish, Spanish, Russian, Hebrew




Los NiĂąos services Address: 535 8th Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10018

1 in 5 children cannot. Parents do not know what to do. So they worry and wait. DONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T WAIT. Call today and schedule a screening. Orton-Gillingham After School Tutoring Orton-Gillingham Bais Yaakov Girls School

Phone: (212) 787-9700 Website: Location: Home Population: Mild can to moderate to words severe that your child read the two

developmental Autism/PDD, call us now.delays, I in 5 children needSpeech us. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t iqnore this as Learning Disabled, & Language impaired, HALIMUD now. disturbed, Hearing ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped 718 972SEIT, 0170ABA Services: Languages: Spanish, Other languages call for availability

McCarton Center Address: 350 East 82nd Street, New York, NY

1681 42nd St. Bklyn, NY 11204 718 972 0170


Medicaid, which is a health program for individuals with certain disabilities as well as those with low incomes, was established through Title XIX of the Social Security act. Medicaid is partially funded and is administered separately by the states, under the supervision of the federal government.

92 â&#x20AC;˘ Building Blocks â&#x20AC;˘ December 2009


Phone: (212) 996-9019 Website: Location: Center Population: Mild to moderate to severe de-

Otsar Family Services Address: 2334 West 13th Street, Brooklyn,

NY 11223 Phone: (718) 946-7301 Website: Location: Center Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD Services: OT, PT, Speech, Play therapy/counseling, ABA, Floor Time, Sensory Integration

Reach for the Stars Address: 3300 Kings Highway, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 677-0797 School for Children with Hidden Intelligence Address: 345 Oak Street, Lakewood, NJ


Phone: (732) 886-0900 Website: Location: Center Population Served: Moderate to severe

developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, ADD/ ADHD, Hearing velopmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & impaired, Multiply handicapped Services Provided: OT, PT, Speech, Play Language impaired Services: SEIT, OT, Speech, Play Therapy/ therapy/counseling, ABA, floor time, sensory integration, music and art therapy, adaptive Counseling, ABA, Sensory Integration physical ed, Therasuit therapy, aqua therapy, animal therapy, etc. Omni Childhood Center that your child can read the two words call us Languages: Hebrew, Yiddish now. I in 5Ave, tchildren canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t read Island Brooklyn, Address: 1651 Coney this and 85% of those need us. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t NY 11230 iqnore this as others have. Call Ohr Halimud now.

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY CPSE Schools or Centers (3-5) Continued… Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices Address: 4302 New Utrecht Ave, Brooklyn,

NY 11219 Phone: (718) 686-9600 Website: Location: Home, Center Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Services: SEIT, OT, PT, Speech, Languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, Spanish

Stein Yeshiva of Lincoln Park Address: 287 Central Park Ave., Yonkers, NY


Phone: (914) 965-7082 Website: Population: Mild developmental delays,

Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Has to be able to function within a mainstream classroom with support Languages: Hebrew

Therapy For Kids Address: 68-68 Main Street, Flushing, Ny,


Phone: (718) 793-5202 Location: Home, Center Based, Will send

providers to private schools Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Services: OT, PT, Speech, Play therapy/counseling, Sensory Integration, Sensory Gym Languages: Hebrew, Spanish, Russian, Yiddish, Greek, Italian, Tagalog

UCP of New York City Address: 80 Maiden Lane, 8th Floor, New

York, NY 10038 Phone: (877) 827-2666 Website: Location: Center

Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, Multiply handicapped Services: Floor Time, Sensory Integration Languages: Spanish Additional Info: State Approved, Privately Funded YAI Network Address: 460 West 34th Street, 11th Floor,

New York, NY 10001 Phone: (212) 273-6182 Website: Location: Home and Center, Will send providers to private schools Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ADHD, Hearing Impaired, Visually Impaired, Multiply handicapped Services Provided: SEIT, OT, PT, Speech, Play therapy/counseling, ABA, Floor Time, Sensory integration Languages: Spanish, Cantonese Additional Info: State Approved

A one-stop early intervention resource for families and professionals. – find answers to your questions about developmental disabilities – learn about services available and how to work with the experts – explore issues around disability awareness and advocacy – connect with others for answers and support 877 452 MCWL

Yeled V’Yalda Early Childhood Center Address: 1312 38th Street, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 686-3700 Website: Location: Home Based, Will send providers

to private schools

Population Served: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired Services: SEIT, OT, PT, Speech, Play therapy/counseling, ABA, Sensory Integration, MEDEK Languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, Spanish MILESTONES IN SPECIAL NEEDS 1969 “The Origin and Nature of Our Institutional Models,” by Wolf Wolfensberger, is published. The book argued that individuals with developmental disabilities were entitled to the same basic human rights as the rest of the population, and started a nationwide trend toward de-institutionalization.

MILESTONES IN SPECIAL NEEDS 1969 Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services is established to provide homes and families for abandoned, neglected, abused and disabled Jewish children.

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 93

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY Free Services for Very Young Children * Evaluations * Unique Integrated Classrooms * Special One-on-One Teachers [SEIT] * Speech, Occupational & Physical Therapies * Counseling * Service Coordination * Transitional Services 516 374-3377

718 263-5437

CSE Schools or Centers (5-21) The Auditory Oral School of New York Address: 3623 Ave L, Brooklyn, NY 11210 Phone: (718) 531-1800 Website: Population: Speech & Language impaired,

Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Hearing impaired Services: OT, PT, Speech, Counseling, hearing education services (HES), SETSS, Speech Therapy, Paraprofessionals Addl. Info: Therapies provided on site

Bais Kinder Afterschool Program Address: 5804 17th Avenue Brooklyn, New

York 11204 Phone: (917) 929-9307 Population: Mild developmental delays Ages: 5 & up Gender: Boys & Girls Hours: 4PM – 6PM Services: SEIT

C.A.H.A.L. Address: 540-A Willow Avenue, Cedarhurst,

Children’s Programs Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island

Come experience our childfriendly and family-friendly staff and environment! Our Preschool (and, in Brooklyn, School-Age) special education schools and evaluation sites help each child reach their greatest potential. For more information contact Project CONNECT At 877 UCP CONNECT (877-827-2666) or

MILESTONES IN SPECIAL NEEDS 1972 The federal Social Security law is amendment to establish the Medicare Waiver, which allows the government to wave normal Medicare payment rules.

94 • Building Blocks • December 2009

N.Y. 11516 Phone: (516) 295-3666 Website: Population: Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD Ages: 5-18 Gender: Boys & Girls Classes: Separate & mixed Hours: 8:00 – 5:00 Services: OT, PT, SPEECH Addl. Info: Therapies provided on site, Lunch provided, Kosher Meals, Transportation through Dept. of Ed.

Gesher Yehuda Yeshiva Address: 49 Ave. T Phone: (718) 714-7400 Population: ADD/ADHD Ages: 5-14 Gender: boys & girls Classes: mixed Hours: 9:00-4:00 Services: Social skills, OT, Speech, Counseling Languages: Hebrew Addl. Info: Therapies provided on site, Transportation through Dept. of Ed.

Ha’or Beacon School Address: 2884 Nostrand Ave Phone: (718) 951-3650 Population: Autism/PDD, Speech & Lan-

guage impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed

Ages: 5-13 Hours: 9:00-4:00 Addl. Info: Therapies provided on site Harmony Address: 1070 East 17th Street, Brooklyn,

NY 11230 & 1467 39th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11218 Phone: (718) 986-7648 Population: Mild-Moderate developmental delays, Autism/PDD Ages: 18-21 Gender: Boys and Girls Classes: Separate Hours: M-Th: 9-7:30, Fr. & Sun: 9-1:30 Services: Pre-Vocational, Speech Therapy, OT, PT, Psychology, Counseling Languages: Yiddish Addl. Info: Therapies provided on site, Handicap Accessible, Breakfast, Lunch and Supper Provided, Kosher meals, private transportation provided

HASC@Remsen Address: 555 Remsen Avenue, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 495- 3510 Website: Population: Moderate to severe develop-

mental delays, Autism/PDD, Emotionally disturbed, Multiply handicapped Ages: 5-12 Gender: Boys and Girls Classes: Mixed Services: ABA Addl. Info: State Approved, Therapies provided on site, Handicap Accessible, Breakfast provided, Kosher meals, Transportation through Dept. of Ed.

HASC Summer Program – Camp HASC Address: 5902 – 14th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 686-5930 Website: Population Served: Mild to Moderate to

severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, ADD/ ADHD, Multiply handicapped Ages: 3-21 Gender: Boys and Girls Classes: Mixed Hours: 9:30-3:30 Services: ABA, Pre-Vocational, OT, PT, Speech Languages: Yiddish, Hebrew Addl. Info: State Approved, Therapies provided on site, Handicap Accessible, Breakfast and lunch provided, Meals Kosher, private transportation provided

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY CSE Schools or Centers (5-21) Continued… The Haven for Stuttering, PLLC Address: 17 Pennington Way, Spring Valley,

NY 10977 Phone: (718) 490-5076 Website: Population: Speech & Language impaired, Learning disabled, Emotionally disturbed Ages: 3-adult Gender: Boys and girls Classes: Separate School Hours: By appointment Speech Languages: Hebrew, Spanish Addl. Info: Therapies provided on site, Privately funded, Handicap Accessible

A Helping Hand Address: 703 East 4th Street Phone: (718) 435-7464 Ages: 5-21 Population: Moderate to severe develop-

mental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD Services: ABA, SEIT, Pendency Languages: Yiddish, Hebrew

Imagine Academy Address: 1465 East 7th St, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 376-8882 IVDU Elementary School for Girls Address: 1277 East 14th Street, Brooklyn


Phone: (718) 758-2999 Website: Ages: Kindergarten-grade 5 Gender: Girls Population: Learning Disabilities, Mild de-

velopmental disabilities, Speech & Language Delays, ADD/ ADHD Services: OT, PT, SEIT, Speech, counseling Addl. Info: Therapies provided on site, Transportation provided from all 5 boroughs

IVDU Upper School Boys Division Address: 1305 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn,


Phone: (718) 372-7203 Website: Ages: 13-21 Gender: Boys Population: Learning Disabilities, Mild

to moderate developmental disabilities, Speech & Language Impaired, ADD/ ADHD, ED, broad range of needs (students grouped

Services: Speech, Therapy, OT, Counseling,

Thivierge &Rothberg �.�.

Addl. Info: Transportation provided from all

by ability level)

Travel Training, Vocational Training 5 boroughs

IVDU Upper School Girls Division Address: 1305 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn,


Phone: (718) 372-7203 Website: Ages: 13-21 Gender: Girls Population: Learning Disabilities, Mild


140 BROADWAY • 46TH•FLOOR 211 West 56th Street Suite 30K New York • New York • 10005 10019 Tel.212-397-6360 TEL.212-397-6360 FAX. 212-397-6361 Christina D. Thivierge (Fax) 646-607-9827

Randi M. Rothberg (Fax) 646-607-2752

to moderate developmental disabilities, Speech & Language Impaired, ADD/ ADHD, ED, broad range of needs (students grouped by ability level) Services: Speech, Therapy, OT, Counseling, Travel Training, Vocational Training Addl. Info: Transportation provided from all 5 boroughs

Jewish Center for Special Education –CHUSH – Girls Program Address: 2221 Ave. R, Brooklyn, NY 11211 Phone: (718) 336-5296 Ages: 5-8 Gender: Girls Hours: 9-3:45 Population: Mild developmental delays,

Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, Services: OT, PT, Speech, Counseling Addl. Info: Therapies provided on site, Lunch Provided, Meals kosher, Transportation through Dept. of Ed.

Keshet- Jewish Parents of Individuals with Special Needs Address: 3210 Dundee Rd., Northbrook, Il-

linois 60062 Phone: (847) 205-1234

Kulanu Torah Acadamy Address: 620 Central Ave., Cedarhurst, NY


Phone: (516) 569-3083 Ages: 11-21 Gender: Boys & Girls Population: Mild to moderate to severe

developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ADHD Services: ABA, OT, PT, speech, Pre-Vocational Addl. Info: Handicap Accessible, Transportation through Dept. of Ed.

MILESTONES IN SPECIAL NEEDS 1973 Congress passes the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in any federal program, and guarantees certain rights to people with disabilities in education and work settings.

MILESTONES IN SPECIAL NEEDS 1975 New York State signs a consent decree to place the 5,000 residents with developmental disabilities at the Willowbrook State School located in Staten Island, in community-based facilities, three years after an investigative report revealed the deplorable treatment and conditions in that facility.

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 95

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY Are you struggling with a medical or mental issue?

Don't Suffer Alone! Meet other frum people who are suffering from similar conditions Free & Anonymous online support group


assists families whose children have been diagnosed with a variety of disabilities and special needs.

Services provided by TAFKID include:

D Family Support Services & Information D Educational Advocacy D Individual Case Consultation D Referrals to Doctors, Therapists, Schools and Government Programs

D Parent Matching D Family Recreation Programs D Parent Training and Meetings D Guest Lecturers D Community Sensitivity and Training D Informational Publications D Pediatric Equipment Lending Program D Tape/Video Lending

CSE Schools or Centers (5-21) Continued… Ohr HaLimud - The Multi Sensory Learning Center Address: 1681 42nd Street, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 972-0170 Website: Ages: 7-14 Gender: Girls Hours: 8:30-4:00 Population served: Dyslexia Services: A complete transitional Bais Yaa-

kov, uniform wearing school that unitilizes the scientifically based Orton-Gillingham approach to teach all subjects with emphasis on reading, writing, and spelling in both English and Hebrew. Languages: Yiddish Addl. Info: Kosher Meals, Transportation provided through Dept. of Ed.

Omni Childhood Center Address: 1651 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn,

NY 11230 Phone: (718) 998-1415 Website: Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Ages: 5-21 Gender: Boys & Girls Languages: Yiddish, Spanish, Russian, Hebrew Services: ABA, Floor Time, SEIT, OT, PT, Speech Counseling Addl. Info: State Approved, Therapies provided on site

P’TACH Address: 1428 36st #211, Brooklyn NY

is a not-for-profit organization services are free of charge to all families. For more information call TAFKID at (718) 252-2236 or e-mail:


Congress passes into law the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA), establishing the legal right for all children with disabilities to receive a free public education.

96 • Building Blocks • December 2009


Phone: (718) 854-8600 Website: Population: Learning Disabled Ages: 6-18 Gender: Boys and Girls Classes: Separate schools Hours: 8:45-5:00 Services: Speech, Counseling Languages: Yiddish Addl. Info: Transportation through Dept. of Ed.

Reach for the Stars Address: 3300 Kings Highway, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 677-0797 School for Children with Hidden Intelligence Address: 345 Oak Street, Lakewood, NJ


Phone: (732) 886-0900 Website: Location: Center Population Served: Moderate to severe

developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally Disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Ages: 3-21 Gender: Male and female Classes: Separate and Mixed Services Provided: OT, PT, Speech, Counseling, ABA, floor time, pre-vocational, mainstreaming, music and art therapy, Therasuit therapy, adaptive phys ed, job training, aqua therapy, animal therapy, computers, etc Languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, Spanish Addl. Info: Therapies provided on site, state approved, Handicap accessible, Breakfast and Lunch provided, Kosher meals, Transportation provided through Dept. of Ed.

SEAD - Special Education Academy of Deal Address: 1 Meridian Rd. Eatontown, NJ


Phone: (732) 460-1700 Website: Population: Mild developmental delays,

Autism/PDD, Speech & Language Impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD Ages: 3-14 Gender: Boys and Girls Classes: Mixed Hours: 8:30-4:00 Services: OT, PT, Speech, Pre-Vocational Addl. Info: Therapies provided on site, Handicap Accessible, Lunch Provided, Kosher Meals, Private Transportation provided, Privately Funded

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY CSE Schools or Centers (5-21) Continued… Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices Address: 4302 New Utrecht Ave, Brooklyn,

NY 11219 Phone: (718) 686-9600 Website: Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Ages: 5-11 Gender: Boys & Girls Classes: Mixed Hours: 8:30am-2pm Services: ABA Languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, Spanish Addl. Info: State Approved, Handicap Accessible, Transportation through Dept. of Ed.

Sinai Schools Address: 1485 Teaneck Road, Suite 300,

Teaneck, NJ 07666 Phone: (201) 833-1134 Website: Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired Ages: 6-21 Gender: Boys & Girls Classes: Separate & Mixed Hours: 8:00am-4pm Services: OT, Speech, Counseling, ABA, PreVocational Languages: Hebrew Addl. Info: Therapies provided on site, Privately Funded, Handicap Accessible, Breakfast and Lunch provided, Kosher Meals, Transportation provided through Dept. of Ed.

Stein Yeshiva of Lincoln Park Address: 287 Central Park Ave., Yonkers, NY 10704

Phone: (914) 965-7082 Website: Population: Mild developmental delays,

Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD Ages: K-8 Gender: Boys and Girls Classes: Separate Hours: 8:20-4:00 Languages: Hebrew Addl. Info: Handicap Accessible, Breakfast provided for Pre-school, Kosher meals, Some students receive free busing from home district

STEP (Special Torah Education) Address: 3005 Ave L, Brooklyn, NY 11210 Phone: (718) 252-8822 Population: Moderate to severe develop-

mental delays, Autism/PDD, ADD/ ADHD, Multiply handicapped, Emotionally disturbed, Speech & Language impaired Ages: 5-21 Gender: Boys and Girls Classes: Separate Hours: 9-4 Services: OT, PT, Speech, Counseling, Aquatic Languages: Hebrew, Yiddish Addl. Info: Handicap Accessible, Lunch provided, Kosher meals, Transportation through Dept. of Ed.

UCP of New York City Address: 80 Maiden Lane, 8th Floor, New

York, NY 10038 Phone: (877) 827-2666 Website: Population: Moderate to severe developmental delays, Multiply handicapped Gender: Boys & Girls Classes: Mixed Hours: 8-2 Services: OT, PT, Speech, Play therapy/counseling Languages: Spanish Addl. Info: State Approved, Privately Funded, Therapies provided on site, Handicap Accessible, Breakfast and Lunch Provided, Transportation through Dept. of Ed.


“Every child deserves a free and appropriate education at the school district’s expense” 0HONE  &AX   -EMBER.*.9"ARS

The Yaldeinu School Address: 1600 63rd Street Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 438-4764 Population: Autism/PDD Ages: 5-11 Gender: Boys & Girls Classes: Separate Hours: 9–3 Services: ABA, OT, Speech Languages: Yiddish

Addl. Info: Therapies provided on site, Lunch provided, Kosher meals, Transportation through Dept. of Ed. MILESTONES IN SPECIAL NEEDS 1976 P’TACH, (Parents for Torah for All Children), is established by a group of concerned parents of children in yeshiva who were encountering serious difficulties learning.

MILESTONES IN SPECIAL NEEDS 1978 In cooperation with P’TACH, Yeshiva University High School opens the first special education classroom in a yeshiva environment.

MILESTONES IN SPECIAL NEEDS 1987 The last child is removed from the Willowbrook State School, and the facility is closed.

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 97

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY CSE Schools or Centers (5-21) Continued… Yeshiva Bonim Lamokom Address: 425 East 9th Street, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 693-9032 Website: Population: Mild developmental delays Ages: 5-25 Gender: Boys Hours: 9–5 Services: Pre-vocational, Day Hab, OT, PT, Speech

Languages: Yiddish Addl. Info: Therapies provided on site,

Breakfast and Lunch provided, Kosher meals, Transportation through Dept. of Ed.

Yeshiva Tehila L’Dovid Address: 1714 East 17th St, Brooklyn, NY Phone: (718) 645-0028 YESS! Yeshiva Education for Special Students Address: 147-37 70th Rd., Flushing, NY

Classes: Mixed Hours: 8AM-3:45 & Fri. 8AM-1:30 Services: OT, PT, speech, counseling (by RSA)

Phone: (718) 268-5976 Website: Population: Mild developmental delays,



Addl. Info: Therapies provided on site, Privately Funded, Handicap Accessible, Breakfast & Lunch Provided, Kosher Meals, Transportation through Dept. of Ed.

Congress reauthorizes and expands the scope of EHA, and renames it the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled Ages: 5-14 Gender: Boys & Girls

Therapy & Evaluation Services The Auditory Oral School of New York Address: 3623 Ave L, Brooklyn, NY 11210 Phone: (718) 531-1800 Website: Location: Home, Center, Will send provid-

ers to private schools Ages: Birth to school age Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Multiply handicapped Services: SEIT, OT, PT, Speech, Counseling, ABA, Sensory Integration, Hearing Educaiton Services (HES) Languages: Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, ASL, Urdu, Farsi, Tagalog Addl. Info: Accept RSA’s, P3’s, and insurance, Conduct private evaluations

Bright Smile Center Address: 1051 59th St, Brooklyn, NY 11219 Phone: (718) 437-5774 Location: Home, Center, Will send provid-

ers to private schools Ages: 3-5 Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Services: OT, PT, Speech/Language, Special Ed, ABA, Sensory Integration Languages: Yiddish, Hebrew, Cantonese, Mandarin, Urdu, Hindu Addl. Info: Accepts RSA’s and P3s, Handicap Accessible 98 • Building Blocks • December 2009

Brooklyn Community Management Address: 2555 Nostrand Avenue Phone: (718) 951-8800 Location: Center Ages: Pediatric through adult Population: Mild developmental delays,

Moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Services: OT, PT, Speech/Language, Special Ed, private evaluations, ABA, Floor Time, Sensory Integration, Medek, Aquatic Therapy Languages: Yiddish, Russian and Spanish Addl. Info: Accepts RSA’s, P3s and all insurance, including straight Medicaid, Handicap Accessible

Center for Hearing and Communication (formerly League for the Hard of Hearing) Address: 50 Broadway, 6th floor, New York,

NY 10004 Phone: (917) 305-7700 Website: Location: Center Population: Hearing impaired Services: Psych-educational evaluations, auditory oral speech and language therapy Addl. Info: Accepts insurance

Comprehensive Kids Developmental School Address: 99 Essex St., New York, NY 10002 Phone: (212) 566-8855

Location: Home, Center, Will send providers to private schools Ages: 3-16 Services: OT, PT, Speech, Special Ed, Private Evals Addl. Info: Accepts RSA’s Das Center Address: 302 Twin Oaks Dr., Lakewood, NJ


Phone: (732) 272-8509 Location: Center Ages: 4-40 Population: Mild to moderate develop-

mental delays, Academic and/or behavioral difficulties Services: Comprehensive differential diagnosis using a truly multi-disciplined approach in a single visit. Specializing in auditory therapy

Harmony Address: 1070 East 17th Street, Brooklyn,

NY 11230 & 1467 39th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11218 Phone: (718) 986-7648 Location: Home, Center, Will send providers to private programs Ages: 21+ Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Multiply handicapped Services: OT, PT, Speech/Language, private evaluations, Psychological Testing, Psychosocial Evaluations Languages: Yiddish Addl. Info: Accepts Medicaid and Medicare, Handicap Accessible

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY Therapy & Evaluation Services Continued… Hebrew Academy for Special Children Address: 1311 55th Street Phone: (718) 851-6100 Website: Location: Home, Center, Will send provid-

ers to private schools Ages: Birth – 4.9 Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Multiply handicapped Services: SEIT, OT, PT, Speech, SW Languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian Addl. Info: Handicap Accessible

The Haven for Stuttering, PLLC Address: 17 Pennington Way, Spring Valley,

NY 10977 Phone: (718) 490-5076 Website: Location: Center Ages: 3-adult Population: Mild developmental delays, Speech & Language impaired, Learning disabled, Emotionally disturbed Services: Speech Languages: Hebrew, Spanish Addl. Info: Private evaluations, Handicap Accessible

HASC@Remsen Address: 555 Remsen Avenue, Brooklyn,

NY 11236 Phone: (718) 495- 3510 Website: Location: Center Ages: 3-5 Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Multiply handicapped Services: ABA

HASC Center, Inc Address: 5601 First Ave, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 535-1953 Website: Location: Center Population: Mild & moderate to severe

developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled,

Multiply handicapped Services: OT, PT, Speech/Language, Private evaluations Languages: Yiddish, Hebrew Addl. Info: Insurance accepted, Handicap Accessible

IncludEd Educational Services Location 1: 445 Central Ave, Suite 111,

Cedarhurst, NY 11516 Phone: (516) 374-3377 Location 2: 45 Main St., Kew Gardens Hills, NY 11367 Phone: (718) 263-5437 Website: Location: Home, Center, Will send providers to private schools Age: 0-5 Services: OT, PT, Speech/Language, Special Ed

Jumpstart Early Intervention Program Address: 3914 15th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 853-9700 Location: Home, Will send providers to pri-

vate schools Ages: 0-3 years Services: OT, PT, Speech/Language, Special Ed, Sensory Integration, MEDEK Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delay, Speech & Language impaired, ADD/ADHD, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped

Dr. Lauren Tobing-Puente, Licensed Psychologist, LLC Address: 361 East 19th Street, New York,

NY 10003 Phone: (917) 838-9274 Website: Location: Center Ages: 0-14 Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Services: Counseling, Floor Time Addl. Info: Accepts RSA’s, Private Evaluations

McCarton Center Address: 350 E. 82nd St, New York, NY 10028 Phone: (212) 996-9019

Website: Location: Home, Center, Will send provid-

ers to private schools Ages: 2-13 Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delay, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, ADD/ ADHD Services: ABA, OT, Speech/Language, private evaluations

Omni Childhood Center Address: 1651 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn,

NY 11230 Phone: (718) 998-1415 Website: Location: Home, Center, Will send providers to private schools Ages: 0 - 21 Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Services: OT, PT, Speech/Language, Special Ed, private evaluations, ABA, Floor Time, Sensory Integration, MEDEK Languages: Yiddish, Spanish, Russian, Hebrew Addl. Info: Accepts RSA’s, P3s, and Insurance, Handicap Accessible

Schneider Speech Pathology

Uri Schneider, MA CCC-SLP Address: 141-49 70th Road, Kew Garden Hills, NY Phone: (347) 673-1620 Uri Schneider, MA CCC-SLP

Second Location:

290 Central Avenue, Lawrence, NY 11559 Phone: (347) 673-1620 Handicap Accessible

Third Location:

Phil Schneider, EdD CCC-SLP 3333 Henry Hudson Parkway, Ste. #7 Riverdale, NY 10643 Phone: (718) 549-0433 Website: Location: Center Ages: 0-99 Population Served: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD Languages: Hebrew Addl. Info: Private evaluations December 2009 • Building Blocks • 99

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY Therapy & Evaluation Services Continued… Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices Address: 4302 New Utrecht Ave, Brooklyn,

Tikvah at Ohel Address: 2925A Kings Highway, Brooklyn,

NY 11219 Phone: (718) 686-9600 Website: Location: Home, Center Ages: 0-11 Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Services: ABA, OT, PT, Speech/Language, Special Ed, private evaluations Languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, Spanish Addl. Info: Accepts RSA’s, Handicap Accessible

NY 11210 Phone: (718) 382-0045 Website: Location: Center Ages: 3+ Population: Emotionally disturbed Services: Family, Couple, & Individual counseling, Child & Adult counseling, Psychotherapy, Psychiatric Evaluation, Medication Treatment Addl. Info: Accepts Medicaid, Medicare & Many other ins. On a sliding scale, Handicap Accessible

Therapy For Kids Address: 68-68 Main St., Flushing, NY, 11367 Phone: (718) 793-5202 Location: Home, Center, Will send providers to private school Ages: 3-21 Population: Mild to moderate to severe

York, NY 10038 Phone: (877) 827-2666 Website: Location: Center Ages: 3-21 Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, Multiply handicapped Services: Floor Time, Sensory Integration, OT, PT, Speech/Language, Special Ed

developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Services: Sensory Integration, Therapeutic Listing Program, Handwriting Programs, Sensory Gym, OT, PT, Speech/Language, private evaluations, Therapy Treatment Languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, Spanish, Russian, Yiddish, Greek, Italian, Tagalog Addl. Info: Accept RSA’s, Handicap Accessible

Therapy In Motion Address: 856 - 46th St, Brooklyn, NY 11220 Phone: (718) 435-7000 Location: Center Services: MEDEK, PT

UCP of New York City Address: 80 Maiden Lane, 8th Floor, New

Watch Me Grow Location 1 Address: 162 West 72nd Street,

Suite 5, New York, NY 10023 Location 2 Address: 361 East 19th Street, Suite 2, New York, NY 10003 Phone: (212) 721-5220 Website: Location: Center, Will send providers to private schools Ages: 0-21 Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Hearing

Impaired, Visually Impaired

Services Provided: OT, PT and Speech

Therapy, Sensory Integration Addl. Info: Accept RSA’s, Private evaluations

YAI Network Address: 460 West 34th Street, 11th Floor,

New York, NY 10001 Phone: (212) 273-6182 Website: Location: Home and Center, Will send providers to private schools Ages: Birth-21+ Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ADHD, Multiply handicapped Services Provided: SEIT, OT, PT, Speech, Counseling, ABA, Floor Time, Sensory integration, Nutrition, Assistive Technology Languages: Spanish Addl. Info: Conduct private evaluations, Handicap Accessible

Yeled V’Yalda Early Childhood Center Address: 1312 38th Street, Bklyn., NY 11218 Phone: (718) 686-3700 Website: Location: Home, Center, Will send provid-

ers to private schools Ages: 0-21 years Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired Services: ABA, Sensory Integration, Medek, OT, PT, Speech/Language, Special Ed, play therapy/counseling Languages: Yiddish, Hebrew, Spanish Addl. Info: Accepts RSA’s and P3s

Camps & End of Summer Programs Camp Ahuvim Address: 616 Seagirt Blvd, Far Rockaway

NY 11691 Phone: (888) 6-AHUVIM (888-624-8846) Website: Location: Upstate NY Duration: 4 weeks Type: Sleep-Away camp Ages: 5-20 Gender: Boys Population: Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired 100 • Building Blocks • December 2009

Addl. Info: Kosher food, therapy provided, accept children not toilet trained

Camp Mishkon-Sternberg Address: 1358 56th Street, Bklyn., NY 11219 Phone: (718) 851-7100 Website: Location: Narrowsburg Duration: 6 weeks Type: Sleep-Away camp Ages: 3+ Gender: Boys under 9, girls 3+

Groups: Separate Population: Mild to moderate to severe

developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, Hearing Impaired, Visually Impaired, Multiply Handicapped Addl. Info: Kosher food, handicap accessible, state approved, special ed and therapy provided, accept children not toilet trained

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY Camps & End of Summer Programs Continued… HASC Summer Program – Camp HASC Address: 5902 – 14th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 686-5930 Website: Location: 361 Parksville Road, Parksville, NY 12768

Duration: 7 Weeks Type: Day & Sleep away camp Ages: 3-adulthood Gender: Male and Female Groups: Mixed Population: Mild to Moderate to severe

developmental delays, Autism/PDD, ADD/ ADHD, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Addl. Info: Special education and related services (therapy) provided on site, Handicap Accessible, Kosher food provided, NY State Approved, Accept children not toilet trained

National Jewish Council for Disabilities/Yachad (NJCD) Address: 11 Broadway, 13th fl., New York,

NY 10004 Phone: (212) 613-8229 Website: Duration: 2-7 weeks Type: Sleep away camp Ages: 9+ Gender: Male, Female Groups: Separate and Mixed Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Hearing impaired Addl. Info: Handicap Accessible, Kosher food provided Special education and therapy can be arranged in certain locations

OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services, Bais Ezra Address: 4510 16th Ave, Bklyn., NY 11204 Phone: (800) 603-OHEL Website: Location: Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island Duration: 2 weeks Type: Sleep away & Day Camp Ages: 5-21 Gender: Male, Female Groups: Separate & Mixed Population: Mild developmental delays,

Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired,

Multiply handicapped Services: Family, Couple, & Individual counseling, Child & Adult counseling, Psychotherapy, Psychiatric Evaluation, Medication Treatment Addl. Info: Kosher food provided, Handicap Accessible, NY State Approved, Accept children not toilet trained

The Rayim Connection Address: 1434 Lively Ridge Road, Atlanta,

GA 30329 Phone: (678) 916-6631 Website: Location: Atlanta, GA Duration: varies Type: Day camp (summer, school breaks, and special needs Sunday school) Ages: 3-5 Gender: Male & Female Groups: Mixed Population: Mild developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Multiply handicapped Addl. Info: Special Ed & Therapy Provided, Kosher food provided, Accept children not toilet trained

School for Children with Hidden Intelligence Address: 345 Oak Street, Lakewood, NJ 08701 Phone: (732) 886-0900 Website: Location: School location for children reg-

istered at school during the year AND boys program in Camp Bonim Duration: 6-8 weeks Type: Day camp and sleep away Ages: 3-21 Gender: Male and female Groups: Separate and Mixed Population Served: Moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning disabled, ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally Disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Addl. Info: Special Ed and Therapy Provided, Handicap Accessible, Kosher food provided, Accept children not toilet trained

Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices Camp Chaya Surei Address: 4302 New Utrecht Ave, Brooklyn,

NY 11219 Phone: (718) 686-9600 Website: Duration: One and a half weeks Type: sleep away Ages: 7-11 Gender: Female Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ ADHD Addl. Info: Accept children not toilet trained

UCP of New York City Address: 80 Maiden Lane, 8th Floor, New

York, NY 10038 Phone: (877) 827-2666 Website: Location: 175 Lawrence Ave, Bklyn., NY 11230 Duration: 3 weeks Type: Day camp Ages: 13-21 Gender: Male and Female Groups: Mixed Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Multiply handicapped Addl. Info: Handicap Accessible, OMRDDfunded, Accept children not toilet trained

YAI Network Address: 460 West 34th Street, 11th Floor,

New York, NY 10001 Phone: (212) 273-6182 Website: Location of camp: Frost Valley, NY Duration: varies Type: Sleep away camp Ages: 6-18 Gender: Male and Female Groups: Mixed Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled, ADD/ADHD

MILESTONES IN SPECIAL NEEDS 1990 Congress passes the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), which extends similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities, as did the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 101

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY Camps & End of Summer Programs Continued… Yedei Chesed Address: 48 Scotland Hill Road, Chestnut

Ridge, NY 10977 Phone: (845) 425-0887 Website: Location: Monsey, New York

Duration: 2 separate weeks Type: Day camp Ages: 3 and above Gender: Male and Female Population: Mild to moderate to severe

developmental delays, Autism/PDD, Speech & Language impaired, Learning Disabled,

ADD/ ADHD, Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Addl. Info: Handicap Accessible, Kosher food provided, NY State Approved, Accept children not toilet trained

Day Habilitation Programs Hand In Hand Family Services Address: 1530 East 12th St. Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 336-6073 Website: Ages: 20-26 Gender: Female Hours: 9:00 – 3:00 Population: Mild to moderate develop-

mental delays Addl. Info: Kosher food provided, Transportation provided, DayHab Without Walls

HASC Center, Inc Address: 5601 First Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220 Phone: (718) 535-1953 Website: Gender: Male & Female Groups: Separate & Mixed Hours: 9:00 – 3:00 Population: Mild to moderate to severe

developmental delays Addl. Info: Vocational services offered, Handicap Accessible, Kosher food provided, Transportation provided, Center Based, DayHab Without Walls

Human Care Address: 1042 38th Street Brooklyn, NY 11219

Phone: (718) 854-2747 x200 Gender: Male and Female Groups: Seperate Hours: 9-3 Population: Mild to moderate to severe

developmental delays Addl. Info: Vocational services offered, Handicap Accessible, Kosher food provided, Transportation provided, Center Based, DayHab Without Walls 102 • Building Blocks • December 2009

National Jewish Council for Disabilities/Yachad (NJCD) Address: 11 Broadway, 13th fl., New York,

NY 10004 Phone: (212) 613-8229 Website: Gender: Male & Female Groups: Separate & Mixed Group Size: 20 Hours: 9-3:30 Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays Addl. Info: Handicap Accessible, Transportation provided, Vocational services offered, DayHab Without Walls

OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services, Bais Ezra Address: 4510 16th Ave, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (800) 603-OHEL Website: Ages: 21+ Gender: Male & Female Groups: Separate & Mixed Size: 3-5 Hours: 8am-4pm Population: Mild to moderate to severe

developmental delays Addl. Info: Center Based, Handicap Accessible, Transportation Provided, Vocational services offered, Kosher food provided

School for Children with Hidden Intelligence Address: 345 Oak Street, Lakewood, NJ


Phone: (732) 886-0900 Website: Ages: 21+ Gender: Male and female Groups: Mixed Group Size: 6-8

Hours: 9:00-3:00 Population: Moderate to severe developmental delays

Addl. Info: Center based, Vocational Ser-

vices, Handicap Accessible, Kosher food provided, Transportation provided

UCP of New York City Address: 80 Maiden Lane, 8th Floor, New

York, NY 10038 Phone: (877) 827-2666 Website: Ages: 21+ Gender: Male & Female Groups: Mixed Hours: 8am-4pm Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays Addl. Info: Center Based, Handicap Accessible, Transportation Provided, Vocational services offered

YAI Network Address: 460 West 34th Street, 11th Floor,

New York, NY 10001 Phone: (212) 273-6182 Website: Ages: 21+ Gender: Male and Female Groups: Mixed Hours: 9-3 Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays Addl. Info: Center Based, Handicap Accessible, Transportation Provided, Vocational services offered MILESTONES IN SPECIAL NEEDS 1997 IDEA is amended to expand the definition of children with disabilities under the law to include children with developmental delays between the ages of 3 and 9 years.

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY Day Habilitation Programs Continued… Women’s League Community Residences,- CBR – Creative Business Resources Address: 1556 38th Street, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 853-0900 Website: Population: Mild to moderate to severe

developmental delays Addl. Info: Vocational services, Job placement, Job coaching, and training

Yedei Chesed Address: 48 Scotland Hill Road, Chestnut

Ridge, NY 10977 Phone: (845) 425-0887 Website: Ages: Post high school Gender: Male & Female Groups: Separate Group Size: 16 Hours: 9:00 – 3:00 Population: Moderate to severe developmental delays Addl. Info: Vocational services offered, Center Based, Handicap Accessible, Kosher food provided, Transportation provided

Yeshiva Bonim Lamokom Address: 425 East 9th Street, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 693-9032 Website: Ages: 21+ Gender: male Hours: 9-7 Population: Mild to moderate develop-

mental delays Addl. Info: Center based, Vocational Services offered, Kosher food provided, Transportation provided

Residential Opportunities HASC Center, Inc Address: 5601 First Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220 Phone: (718) 535-1953 Website: Gender: Male & Female Population: Mild to moderate to severe de-

velopmental delays, Autism/PDD Specialization: Multiply handicapped Addl. Info: IRA’s, Supportive Apartments

Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services/Mishkon Address: 1358 56th Street, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 851-7100 Website: Ages: All Gender: Male, Female Population: Mild to moderate to severe de-

velopmental delays, Autism/PDD Specialization: Emotionally disturbed, Hearing Impaired, Visually Impaired, Multiply Handicapped Addl. Info: IRA’s, ICF

OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services, Bais Ezra Address: 4510 16th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11204 Phone: (800) 603-OHEL Website: Ages: 13+ Gender: Male & Female Groups: Separate & Mixed Size: 3-5 Hours: 8am-4pm Population: Mild to moderate to severe de-

velopmental delays, Autism/PDD Specialization: Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Addl. Info: IRA’s, Supportive Apartments

Sinai Schools Address: 1485 Teaneck Road, Suite 300, Tea-

neck, NJ 07666 Phone: (201) 833-1134 Website: Ages: 18+ Gender: Male Population: Mild developmental delays, Autism/PDD

UCP of New York City Address: 80 Maiden Lane, 8th Floor, New

York, NY 10038 Phone: (877) 827-2666 Website: Ages: infants-adults Gender: Male & Female Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD Specialization: Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Addl. Info: IRA’s, Supportive Apartments

Women’s League Community Residences, Inc. Address: 1556 38th Street, Bklyn., NY 11218 Phone: (718) 853-0900 Ages: All ages Gender: Male & Female

Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD Specialization: Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Addl. Info: IRA’s, Supportive Apartments YAI Network Address: 460 West 34th Street, 11th Floor,

New York, NY 10001 Phone: (212) 273-6182 Website: Ages: 21+ Gender: Male and Female Population: Mild to moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism PDD Addl. Info: IRA’s, Supportive Apartments

Yedei Chesed Address: 48 Scotland Hill Road, Chestnut

Ridge, NY 10977 Phone: (845) 425-0887 Website: Ages: post high school Gender: Male & Female Population: Moderate to severe developmental delays Specialization: Emotionally disturbed, Hearing impaired, Visually impaired, Multiply handicapped Addl. Info: IRA’s, Supportive Apartments

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 103

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY Medicaid Waiver, Respite & Other Programs Chai Lifeline, Inc. Address: 151 West 30th Street, Third Floor,

New York, NY 10001 Phone: (877) CHAI LIFE Website:

Programs and Services Offered: Support groups/services to parents and siblings limited to families of children with medical illnesses. Include counseling for ill children and parents, tutoring for children who cannot attend school, Big Brothers/Sisters, and sibling programs. Services are free of charge. Respite and overnight respite for hospitalized children only. Hand In Hand Family Services Address: 1530 East 12th St. Bklyn., NY 11230 Phone: (718) 336-6073 Website: Programs Offered: Medicaid Waiver, Re-

spite, Sunday Program, After School Program, Recreation

Hebrew Academy for Special Children Address: 1311 55th Street Phone: (718) 851-6100 Website: Programs Offered: After School Program HASC Center, Inc Address: 5601 First Ave, Brooklyn, NY

Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services/Mishkon Address: 1358 56th Street, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 851-7100 Website: Programs Offered: Medicaid Waiver, Family Support Services, Respite, Res-Hab

Metropolitan Development Center Address: 1049 38th Street Phone: (718) 633-3334 Programs Offered: Medicaid Waiver, Re-

spite, Overnight respite, Res-Hab

National Jewish Council for Disabilities/Yachad (NJCD) Address: 11 Broadway, 13th fl., New York,

NY 10004 Phone: (212) 613-8229 Website: Programs Offered: Medicaid Waiver, Respite, Overnight respite, Sunday Program, Family support, Recreation, services for parents and siblings

OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services, Bais Ezra Address: 4510 16th Ave, Bklyn., NY 11204 Phone: (800) 603-OHEL Website: Programs Offered: Medicaid Waiver, Re-


spite, Overnight respite, After School Program, Sunday Program, Family support services for parents and siblings, Recreation

aid Waiver, Respite, Overnight respite, Sunday Program, After School Program, Family support services for parents and siblings

Ohr HaLimud - The Multi Sensory Learning Center Address: 1681 42nd Street, Bklyn., NY 11204 Phone: (718) 972-0170 Website: Programs: After school Orton-Gillingham

Phone: (718) 535-1953 Website: Programs and Services Offered: Medic-

HASC Summer Program – Camp HASC Address: 5902 – 14th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 686-5930 Website: Programs Offered: Overnight Respite MILESTONES IN SPECIAL NEEDS 2004 Congress reauthorizes and further expands IDEA to define a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), which has been individualized to meet that child’s unique needs, as an educational right of every child with disabilities in the US.

104 • Building Blocks • December 2009

Reading and Tutoring Program Addl. Info: P3’S accepted with availability of staff

Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices Address: 4302 New Utrecht Ave, Brooklyn,

NY 11219 Phone: (718) 686-9600 Website: Programs Offered: Medicaid Waiver, Family support services for parents, After School Program

Special Care for families and Children’s Services Address: 1421 East 2nd Street, Brooklyn,

NY 11230 Phone: (718) 252-3365 Programs Offered: Medicaid Waiver, Respite

UCP of New York City Address: 80 Maiden Lane, 8th Floor, New

York, NY 10038 Phone: (877) 827-2666 Website: Programs Offered: Medicaid Waiver, Family support services for parents, In-home respite for individuals on the Medicaid waiver, Overnight Respite, After School Program, Recreation

Women’s League Community Residences, Inc. Address: 1556 38th Street, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 853-0900 Website: Programs Offered: Medicaid Waiver Yad Hachazakah – The Jewish Disability Empowerment Center Inc. Address: 25 Broadway, Suite 1700, New

York, NY 10004 Phone: (212) 284-6936 Location: Office, Agreed upon location Ages: 12 through older adulthood Population: Self-directing people with obvious or hidden disabilities/conditions and their loved ones. Services: Personal Coaching and Mentoring, Peer Networking, Advocacy, Resource Navigation, Dating and Marriage Consultation Addl. Info: Led by professionals and lay persons with disabilities under Orthodox Rabbinic Supervision.

Yedei Chesed Address: 48 Scotland Hill Road, Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977

Phone: (845) 425-0887 Website: Programs Offered: Medicaid Waiver, Fam-

ily Support Services for parents and siblings, Respite, Overnight Respite, Sunday Program, After School Program

RESOURCES - DIRECTORY Medicaid Waiver, Respite & Other Programs Continued… YAI Network Address: 460 West 34th Street, 11th Floor,

New York, NY 10001 Phone: (212) 273-6182 Website: Programs Offered: Medicaid Waiver, Family Support Services for parents and siblings, Respite, Overnight Respite, After School Program, Recreation, Res-Hab

Addl. Info: YAI/NIPD is a network of notfor-profit health and human services agencies with more than 300 programs including information and referral, early childhood programs, family support services, health care centers, employment, all day programs and residential options. For information on all services, please call YAI LINK at 212-273-6238.

Yeled V’Yalda Early Childhood Center Address: 1312 38th Street, Brooklyn, NY


Phone: (718) 686-3700 Website: Programs Offered: Respite

Advocacy The Auditory Oral School of New York Address: 3623 Ave L, Brooklyn, NY 11210 Phone: (718) 531-1800 ext 216 Website: Region: Five boroughs Provides representation: IEP meetings Bais Kinder Afterschool Program Address: 5804 17th Avenue Brooklyn, New

York 11204 Phone: (917) 929-9307 Region: Brooklyn, NY

Provides representation: IEP Meetings, Impartial Hearings, and appeals

National Jewish Council for Disabilities/Yachad (NJCD) Address: 11 Broadway, 13th fl., New York, NY


Phone: (212) 613-8229, Hotline: (212) 613-8127 Website: Region: United States and Canada Provides representation: Educational

Provides representation: IEP meetings,

planning and information regarding special education

Joan A. Harrington EASE- Educational Advocacy Service Address: 1359 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn,

Project LEARN Special Education Affairs – Agudath Israel of America Address: 42 Broadway, New York, NY Phone: (212)-797-9000, ext. 308/325 Region: Primarily New York City and State,

impartial hearings, and appeals

NY 11230 Phone: (718) 252-6682 Region: New York Provides representation: IEP meetings, impartial hearings, and appeals

Karen F. Edler, ESQ. Price, Meese, Shulman, & D’Arminio, P.C. Address: 50 Tice Boulevard, Woodcliff Lake,

NJ 07677 Phone: (201) 391-3737 Website: Regions: New Jersey Provides representation: IEP meetings, impartial hearings, and appeals

Michael Inzelbuch Esq. Address: 555 Madison Ave Lakewood, NJ


Phone: (732) 905 2557 Region: New Jersey

available to consult on questions on a national level Provides representation: IEP meetings, Impartial Hearings, and Appeals

Resources for Children with Special Needs Address: 116 E. 16th St/5th Floor , New York,

NY 10003 Phone: (212)-677-4650 Region: New York

Provides representation: IEP meetings & Impartial Hearings

SEAD - Special Education Academy of Deal Address: 1 Meridian Rd. Eatontown, NJ


Phone: (732) 460-1700

Website: Region: New York and New Jersey Provides representation: IEP meetings & Impartial Hearings

TAFKID Address: 977 E. 17th St , Brooklyn, NY 11230 Phone: (718) 252-2236 Website: E-mail: Region: New York Provides representation: Educational planning and case consultation, assistance with letter writing and paperwork, IEP Meetings and Impartial Hearings

Thivierge and Rothberg, P.C. Address: 140 Broadway, 46th Floor, New

York, NY 10005 Phone: (212) 397-6360 Website: Region: New York, New Jersey Provides representation: IEP Meetings, Impartial Hearings, and Appeals

Yedei Chesed Address: 48 Scotland Hill Road, Chestnut

Ridge, NY 10977 Phone: (845) 425-0887 Website: Region: Rockland County

Provides representation: IEP Meetings UCP of New York City Address: 80 Maiden Lane, 8th Floor, New

York, NY 10038 Phone: (877) 827-2666 Website: Region: Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and S.I.

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 105


Compiled By Chumi Friedman

Teachers and Parents Strengthen Their Interaction Skills with Their Students and Children Respectively at OHEL’s “Mastering the Art of Rapport”


crowd of over 100 parents and teachers attended OHEL Mental Health Services parenting workshop entitled “Mastering the Art of Rapport” this past Wednesday evening, November 4. Organized together with Darchei Torah, Bnos Bais Yaakov and the JCC of Greater Five Towns, the evening illuminated practical approaches to strengthening one’s interaction skills with ones children and students. Rabbi Shmuel Strickman, Menahel of Yeshiva Darchei Torah, who provided the introductory remarks, beauti-


fully encapsulated the power and responsibilities that we have in these special relationships with our children. Rabbi Donny Frank, M.Ed, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who heads OHEL’s Monsey and Northern New Jersey branches, where he counsels families and conducts seminars and trainings, delivered the keynote address. Rabbi Frank, who is well known for engaging workshops, empowered participants with practical life skills to help deepen their connections between themselves

and their children and/or students. Rabbi Frank shared insights in responding productively rather than recklessly to children’s behavior and

creating a safe environment where children feel comfortable in sharing their vulnerabilities and challenges. u

Fire Truck Fun

n honor of Fire Safety month, children from the nursery school of the JCC of the Greater Five Towns Early Childhood Center gather before a Lawrence-Cedarhurst fire truck. Firefighters explained fire safety rules and

the youngsters had the opportunity to explore the inside of a fire truck. The event took place outside the Center, located at Temple Israel, 140 Central Avenue in Lawrence. u


The Museum of Modern Art partnered with the Center for Hearing and Communication to present their annual Art Studio Workshop for children ages 4-7 who have a hearing loss on March 22nd at MoMA in New York City. Children and Max Popick with his Dad, their parents enjoyed an Glen,and brother, Rex, creates art interactive guided tour at MoMA. of the museum and then 106 • Building Blocks • December 2009

gathered in MoMA’s private studio space to create art of their own and get to know one another. With the aid of assistive listening technology, all the kids were engaged throughout the session, communicating opinions and insights on the subjects of color, perspective and (no surprise) the role of imagination. u

Children with hearing loss learn about art at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.

BULLETIN BOARD Everybody Counts At Columbus Torah Academy


ostering a sense of respect begins with understanding. Columbus Torah Academy recently enriched all kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms with the nationally known curriculum from Cincinnati Ohio called Everybody Counts! During the winter last year, parent volunteers led grade level appropriate classroom activities and discussions from the Everybody Counts! curriculum. Parent volunteers received in-service training to prepare them to instruct in the classroom. The Everybody Counts! program is designed to give students an under-


standing of people with disabilities. The curriculum material trains volunteers that the goal of the program is to bring understanding and through that compassion, empathy and ultimately acceptance and success of those who may be different. Patty Sapp, Lower School principal, explained, “CTA’s academic program emphasizes differentiation. We know that children come in all shapes and sizes. Not every peg fits into every hole. We want our children to appreciate differences and to show respect. We are fortunate to have parent volunteers who could be trained to implement this program.” Beginning with the Kindergarten Introduction Program, the children learn that people are equally important and that differences in the way they look or the way they do things are not good or bad, but are simply different. The program continues with instruction and

A Parent Speaks

Parent Speaks, an organization committed to providing support for families with special needs children, hosted their first annual Simchas Beis Hashoeva this past Sukkos. The event was attended by close to four hundred children as well as many Rabonim and community leaders. Many in attendance were attending such

an event as a family for the very first time. The organizers put in a great deal of effort to make sure that all children with disabilities would be accommodated. There was a great music program lead by superstar Shloime Dachs as well as a special art program where over three hundred sukkos were constructed. u

activities in Visual Impairment (First grade), Hearing Impairment (Second grade), Developmental Handicaps (Third and Sixth Grade), Motor and Orthopedic Impairments (Fourth Grade), and Learning Disabilities (Fifth Grade), the students learned through hands on demonstrations and activities. Parent volunteer Dalia Koppes taught the program in her son, Jordan’s, second grade classroom. She remarked, “I was honored to be a part of such a special program that teaches children to value and respect others who are hearing impaired as well as the importance of their own hearing.“ u



r. Jack Levine and a participant at a recent Kulanu workshop entitled “Understanding the Pediatrician’s Role with Children with Special Needs” held on October 21 at the new Kulanu Center for Special Services. Dr. Levine is a developmental pediatrician and spoke to a group of parents and professionals about health concerns common to children with autism and how parents and pediatrician’s should partner together to advocate for the child. Kulanu holds regular workshops on a variety of topics including parent advocacy, accessing community resources and family issues. u

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 107


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Make Your Voice Heard Through Our Nex Big Issu t e Be Publ To ished May-Jun e 2010

Today, Building Blocks is the prime publication and resource for the Special Needs segment of our Jewish community. Its coverage of the latest treatments and discoveries from the frontiers of medical research, its presentation of a broad array of issues and concerns impacting individuals with Special Needs, their families and care-givers, its guidance and practical advice for navigating the government regulations and procedures in place today, and its advocacy for the legal rights and unmet needs of individuals with Special Needs, has made Building Blocks the premiere forum for ideas and opinions.


If you have something that you want to share with our readers and the Building Blocks community, we want it to be your personal forum as well. If you have a story to tell, about a family member or the child of a friend, about an incident you witnessed, or a personal encounter with a Special Needs individual we invite you to submit it for inclusion in the next issue of Building Blocks: Email: Perel Grossman, Family Forum Editor at

June 2010

Supplement to the Jewish Press Periodical Publication

Is there a resource, new product or book that you think would be of interest with other Building Blocks readers? Please call it to our attention by contacting: Resource Section – or Review section – If you have information about an event to take place that you would like to see published in the June, 2010 issue of Building Blocks, please send it to: Chumi Friedman, Bulletin Board Editor at


Magazine Publisher


If you have a question that you would like us to address to an expert in the field, email: Chaya Klass, Ask the Expert Coordinator: at Building Blocks is your publication, and we look forward to receiving your comments, thoughts and opinions, to share with all of our readers.

Associate Editor







December 2009

December 2008 SEPTEMBER, 2007

September 2007

June 2008

December 2008

June 2009

December 2009

To order back issues Email December 2009 • Building Blocks • 109

Advertiser Index The Ability Center 95 Ableplay 81 ACHIEVEMENT PRODUCTS 75 Aim High Children’s Services 16, 110 Blanche Kahn - Family Health Center 26 Bright Smile Center 108 CAHAL 9 Camp Ahuvim 47 Catapult Learning 37 74 Children’s Publishing 76 EASE - Educational Advocacy Services 90 Firststep Evaluations 9 Frum Support 96 Girls Program 89 Go-Kid™ 80 Ha’or Beacon School 91 HASC Center 27, 108 HASC School Age Program 47 Hatchbacks Footwear, Inc. 71 IALQ-International Association for Life Quality 42 IncludEd Educational Services 29, 94, 111 Michael I. Inzelbuch Esq. 97 IVDU (Beacon) Lower School 51 IVDU Schools - Upper School 19

Comprehensive Evaluations • SEIT ABA • Speech Therapy • Physical Therapy Occupational Therapy • Counseling

Email resumes to: or call us at (718) 853-1750. Our preschool programs are funded and regulated by the NYS Education Dept and the NYC Dept of Education 110 • Building Blocks • December 2009

JCC of the greater 5 Towns 50 Jump Start 111 Kidi Splint 79 Kids Unlimited 43 28 Kriah Master 75 Laureate Learning Systems 78 The Manhatten Children’s Center Back Page Matara 36 Maxi-Health Research 55, 73 The McCarton Center 88 Mishkon-JBFCS Centerfold Nefesh - Find a Therapist 64, 90 The New Seminary 15 Ohel Bais Ezra 3, 53, 111 Ohel Children’s Home 92 Ohr Halimud 92 Omni Childhood Center 13, 108 Pesach Tikvah/Door of Hope 90 PlayAbility Toys 72 Pocket Full of Therapy 80 Project Learn 2 SAFE Foundation, Inc 21 Schneider Speech Pathology 97 77 Shema Kolainu/Hear our Voices 49 SmartKnitKids 71 Special Care for Families & Children’s Services 111 Spirit Magazine 94 StriVright 39, 108 Tafkid 46, 96 Talking with Baby 80 Tasks Galore Publishing 70 Teachers College Press 84 Therapeutic Imprints Inc. 95 Therapeutic Resource 111 Therapro 78 Thivierge & Rothberg P.C. 95 Touro College Speech & Hearing Center 11 TTI - Testing & Training International 12, 17 UCP - Children’s Program 94 UCP - My Child Without Limits 93 UCP - The Early Childhood Direction Center of Brooklyn 89 Usborne Books 87 Women’s League Community Residences 25 Yachad/NJCD 97, 108 Yad HaChazaka 91 YAI Autism Center 49 Yedei Chesed 88 Yeled V’Yalda Early Childhood Center 11, 108 Yeshiva Bonim Lamokom 4 Yeshiva Tehila L’Dovid 93 YESS - Yeshiva Education for Special Students 7 Zillio, Inc. 81


We’ll Make a Better Match. Because we do it all.

MATCHING : OT’s - PT’s - SLP’s COTA’s - PTA’s -Special Educators


(718) 853-9700 ext. 255 or fax resume to

(718) 853-5533

Seeking PT’s to work with infants and toddlers in all Brooklyn neighborhoods. Bilingual (Spanish, Creole, Yiddish, Russian, etc.) preferred.

WITH POSITIONS IN : Hospitals Nursing Homes –Early Intervention Schools- Private Clinics - Preschools Day Treatment Centers, and much more….

212.589.1096 36-36 33rd Street. Suite 500 Long Island City. NY 11106

Also seeking evaluators in all disciplines. Call Judy at ext. 240

is currently seeking highly qualified individuals for full-time and part-time positions within our growing agency.

We are looking for talented and dedicated Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapists to service our students in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Nassau County.

Our new Early Intervention Program, operating in Brooklyn, Far Rockaway, the Bronx, and Nassau County, needs therapists and evaluators in all disciplines.

If you are interested in obtaining a uniquely satisfying, well paying job with an exceptional agency, please email your resume with a cover letter to

December 2009 • Building Blocks • 111

the manhattan childrens center 124 West 95th Street, New York, NY 10025

world-class education and treatment of pediatric autism The Manhattan Childrens Center program provides a world-class facility offering scientifically based behavioral educational interventions to children diagnosed with autism. We are partnering in research and service activities with Columbia University Teachers College faculty and students. Many children with autism can learn to function in a regular classroom. Our mission is to provide quality treatment and education to these children so that they will be able to integrate into the general education population with minimal further support. In addition,we provide parental support and education together with training for educators and other professionals. The Manhattan Childrens Center provides the New York community with a world-class educational – scientific setting where educators, scientists, clinicians, parents and other interested professionals can work together to help our community’s autistic children reach their full potential.

Program information may be obtained by contacting Abigail Szoszun-Weiss, Chief Administrative Officer, at 212-749-4604. 112 • Building Blocks • December 2009

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