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Circle of Support September 2015 A Supplement of the

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HTA of New York prides itself on being an agency focused on quality comprehensive care for child/student development, treatment, and assistance. HTA is regulated and funded by the NYSDOH and NYSED. We are fortunate to have assembled a team of expert evaluators and practitioners in a range of relevant

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The Circle of Support


By Rabbi Yaakov Klass

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Compiled by Suri Greenberg


By Yaakov Kornreich

27 28

The Public School Alternative

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By Dr. Joshua Weinstein

22 24 26

Neurodiversity View and New Innovations in Autism

The Justice Center – Protecting People with Disabilities

By Leah (Rothstein) Gottheim

Let’s Play!! Supporting Play and Playful Interactions

By Lynn Abelson, MA, CCC-SLP, OTR/L and Susan Smith-Foley, MPA, OTR/L

Kids Yoga Benefits Children with and without Special Needs By Avigael Saucier Wodinsky, PhD, MEd, MBA, RYT-200

By Betty Aboff, MA, CCC-SLP, TSHH

Living with Cerebral Palsy By Sandy Eller

Vision Therapy


Twin Perspectives By Gila Arnold

How to Talk to Your Infant and Toddler

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Raising Children with Limits By Yonina Kaufman, LMSW, M. Ed, SSW

Places to Go Lower Hudson Valley, NY By Golda Turner

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September 2015


hen did man first come to understand his need for connection as a means of support? It actually begins at the beginning of man’s time in G-d’s world. Man – Adam – is the last of G-d’s creation, as the verse (Genesis 2:7) “And G-d formed the man dust from the ground, and he blew the soul of life into his nostrils, and man became a living being.” Yet man was created singularly, without a mate. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a) states that man was created as a single being in order that none in succeeding generations have the ability to say ‘my father is greater than your father,’ and

The Circle of Support

at G-d the By Rabbi Yaakov Klass said, s ame ‘It is not time that good that each and man be alone; every one of his succeeding generations have I will make him a helper the ability to say ‘for me [as a corresponding to him.’” Yet successor to my ‘father’] was the verse does not tell us that such was done. Rather, in the the world created.’ We see in a further verse further verses we are told that (Genesis 2:18); “And the L-rd, all members of the animal kingdom come before man, who is to lord over them, to each he gives their appropriate names. He is suddenly very School Age Program aware of his uniqueness in creation, as all that come before him are male and female – meaning that each has a mate, underscoring the fact that he does not. Then we are told that finally G-d takes flesh and bone from man [there are many views – Bereishit Rabbah 8:1 – some see from the earlier verse (1:27) that man was originally created two sides – male and female] and from there creates a woman – Eve – the mother of all life. Now the question, if G-d initially created man singularly and subsequently, created woman, what was the initial thought and why did it change, after all G-d’s actions are perfect. I wish to offer my own novel interpretation. There are two types of people, firstly, there are those who are totally


September 2015

independent and selfsufficient. On the other hand there are those who are dependent on others. This degree of dependency will vary from person to person with some being extremely dependent while others with some effort are able to finally make the step to near independence. G-d having created man – each with his/ her unique personality and abilities decided that the human condition – cries out ‘one size does not fit all.’ Some children are typical learners and will excel at all they encounter in the learning [educational] process. However others, whether in the special needs or the typical ranges, will not achieve any level of sustained functionality without support. Family, mother, father and even siblings are the most natural support in a young child’s growth. Extended family, grandparents, aunts and uncles add a further dimension to that growth. The teacher, the physician and, where needed, those who render professional services – such as early intervention – in many instances depending upon their skill and the chemistry of their relationship can head off many a serious impediment to a child’s development. True, some seem to possess the gift of total independence but for most of us it is that support in the developing years that helps us grow and attain the highest level that we can possibly hope to achieve. Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at

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New York. HTA of New York is a special needs provider agency consisting of a New York State-approved, fully accredited team of infant and student special need professionals. Please contact HTA Brooklyn at 718.564.6128 to arrange for a free individual assessment of your needs, for help navigating the early intervention process, or for information about their full range of services. B What services does HTA of New York provide? HTA of NY is a fully approved, fully accredited agency, with decades of experience providing quality special needs evaluations and services to children from birth to twenty one years old, including Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Special Education, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Counseling/Parent Training, Teachers for the Visually Impaired and Deaf, Nutritionist, Teaching Assistants, Bilingual Services, C When should parents seek services from HTA of New York? As a parent living in New York State, you have a wealth of options to ensure your child enjoys the healthiest and happiest possible start in life. Early detection leads to support and services. The moment you have a question or concern about your child’s development, contact HTA. Our skilled professionals can connect you with the necessary offices to initiate an assessment and we are there to provide ongoing support to help you navigate through each step of the process. D What is the transition process from early intervention to school based services? All too soon, your child will be turning three years old! As your child changes from a “toddler” to a “preschooler,” he or she will also be “transitioning” from the Early Intervention Program to other services. With your permission, your ongoing service coordinator will help you plan for other services and connect you with the appropriate office in your child’s local school district to discuss steps for the transition. Children can stay in the Early Intervention Program for a short time after they turn three. • If your child’s third birthday is between January 1st and August 31st, your child can stay in the program until August 31st of that calendar year. • If your child turns three between September 1st and December 31st, your child can stay in the program until December 31st of that calendar year. These dates apply only to children who are eligible for preschool services. If services end after early intervention, all services end at the child’s third birthday. E What makes HTA of New York unique from other agencies? HTA is a compliance driven agency focused on providing the most effective service to meet the needs of families; children; students; school districts and service providers. Our quality assurance team of employees are out in the field to support the providers seeing your children. This means that our providers have access to a colleague who is an expert in their field to discuss best practice. F How can parents navigate the system effectively to avoid gaps in services? Children/students found eligible for state-funded special needs programs are mandated to receive individualized services. Families are important members of the committees that make these determinations. Parents need to be active participants in their child’s services noting when/if mandated services are not being delivered as intended. Calls to your service coordinator or local school district should occur the moment there is any question or concern that your child is not receiving the services required. At times though there is a known provider capacity issue making some service more difficult than others to place. Should this occur, it is beneficial for a family to discuss alternatives that can be helpful while waiting for mandated services to be found. 10

September 2015

In the News…

Housing To Mix Adults With Autism, Typically-Developing Residents

PITTSBURGH — In what may be the first project of its kind in the nation, local developers are building an apartment complex that will house adults with autism alongside typically-developing residents. The Dave Wright Apartments will feature 42 one- and twobedroom apartments, including six for people with physical disabilities, on the site of the former Wright’s Seafood restaurant in Heidelberg. About half the units are expected to go to higher functioning adults with autism who can live independently and hold a job, said Elliot Frank, president of the Autism Housing Development Corp. of Pittsburgh, which is building the complex along with ACTION-Housing Inc. Frank said he expects the apartments, which received an innovation design award from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, to open in the fall of 2016. Financed under a federal law that provides affordable housing, the rents will range from $575 to $800 a month, and a single resident will not be able to earn more than $28,000 a year, he said. While this project may be the first that mixes those with autism and typically-developing adults, it’s part of a recent movement to create affordable housing projects that put various special needs groups alongside typical renters. One ACTION-Housing project being developed in Bloomfield will house veterans with disabilities alongside regular renters, and another in Uptown combines typical renters with residents with hearing and vision disabilities, said Larry Swanson, executive director of ACTION-Housing. Financing for the $13 million project is coming through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. Under the IRS code used for such projects, banks get $1 in direct tax credits for every dollar provided, and PNC is contributing $11.5 million of the financing. The rest is coming from Allegheny County. The developers will be using NHS Human Services of Lafayette Hill, Pa., to help the residents with autism find work, provide such services as bookkeeping or shopping assistance, and help set up a tenants’ board, Frank said. Goodwill will also help with job placement. While the developers have to consider applications from all potential renters whose incomes qualify, Mr. Swanson said, they will be sensitive to their ability to live alongside people with autism, who often have difficulty socializing and communicating, and sometimes have sensitivities to light and noise. “What we would hope is that the people who choose to move in will be oriented toward this dynamic” of living with people with autism. “I think if you’re careful and you explain clearly what you’re doing, if people are uncomfortable they’ll probably select themselves out,” Swanson said. Frank predicted he would have no trouble finding enough people with autism to fill half the units, based on calls he already has received, and on the typically-developing side of the ledger, “we’ve already received calls from people who are interested in living there who have a brother or sister on the autism spectrum.” The buildings are being designed to help residents with autism improve their social skills. For instance, there will be a laundry room on each floor rather than in each apartment, to enhance social contact among the residents. Frank said he hopes this will be the first of several projects that will help meet a growing need for families whose children with autism are aging out of school. One University of Wisconsin-Madison study showed that only 17 percent of young adults with autism had ever lived outside their parents’ homes, and many families are desperate to find safe living quarters for their adult children, he said. He hopes the David Wright apartments can begin to address that need. (Source Disability Scoop)

T Tips… 4 Tips to Keep Your Special Needs Child Happy During the Holidays

A little preparation and practice can help to keep the “happy” during the upcoming month of holidays. Here are four tips. B Prepare for visits with family and friends with stories and pictures. Encourage family members to video chat or FaceTime with the individual with special needs. These interactions will remind and prepare your child for a visit with loved ones. Reflect on pictures from previous holidays. If your child uses visual schedules, include pictures of the family members on the schedule. C Add visual supports to encourage routines and familiarity. Write a short social story to remind the individual of the new activity or event, i.e., honoring a religious tradition. For an older individual with special needs, this might just be a simple list or note to remind him of the change in schedule. D Practice new routines. If you are attending a religious event that is out of the ordinary, walk your child through what it will sound like, look like, etc. E Share your concerns with other family members. Let your sister, aunt, father, or best friend know that you are worried about your child having a meltdown during the family event. Don’t put all the stress on yourself to prepare your child. Ask family members to step in and help. Maybe a friend or relative can take a walk with your child with special needs to give him/ her a break. Let other adults know of your concerns for your child. Most people are willing to help, if you just ask them.

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Arizona was ranked the best in terms of how individuals with developmental disabilities are served and treated in the community.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has once again announced that there is no link between vaccines and Autism.

(Source Developmental Disabilities In The News)


Did You Know? The U.S. Department of Transportation has outlined rules air carriers must follow when dealing with travelers who have autism and other developmental disabilities. This after a 15-year-old with autism and her family were kicked off of a United Airlines flight after the teen’s mother sought a hot meal to calm the girl mid-flight earlier this year. (Source Disability Scoop)

(Source Special Needs Insider)

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September 2015


Can Public School Be a Viable Alternative for Some Jewish Kids? By Yaakov Kornreich


oday, the religious community has made a tremendous investment in a broad range of programs and services in an effort to provide every child with Special Needs with an effective education that will help them reach their full potential as an adult and as a Jew and is appropriate for their abilities. The community set up its own programs because it has long viewed public schools as a spiritually toxic environment for educating children from religious homes. Rabbi Yisrael Rothwachs, of Sinai Schools, says, “We have come a long way and, as a community, are doing a better job at educating many more children.” Every religious family would agree that, all things being equal, a Jewish-run program is preferable. But in the real world, all things are rarely equal. The starting point for providing any child with Special Needs services is a professional evaluation and assessment of the child’s individual strengths and weaknesses. This becomes the basis for the child’s IEP (Individualized Educational Program) which lays out goals tailored specifically to the child’s abilities and needs. That is why, in the world of Special Education, there is no onesize-fits-all approach. Under federal law, the government must pay for the programs and services authorized by the IEP in an appropriate Jewish environment if the parents insists. 12

September 2015

But because of the extent of individualization required, Rabbi Rothwachs says, “it is unlikely that any one school will be able to optimally support the growth of all children.” For a particular child, one specific public school or secular program might be clearly superior to meet their IEP goals to all of the available Jewish programs. At that point, the child’s parents must ask, “What will be the religious and

able to parents of children with Special Needs outside the school classroom. These include communally sponsored after-school and Sunday programs, Shabbatons and summer camping programs, as well as tutoring from Special Education-trained Jewish educators. Together, they make it possible for parents to construct a supplemental Jewish education program that could compensate for the absence

“What will be the religious and social consequences of putting our child in a non-Jewish environment?…” social consequences of putting our child in a non-Jewish environment?” The answer is not as obvious as it may appear. The religious community established today’s nationwide yeshiva/day school network, because of the failures of the old Talmud Torah system. The community lost the allegiance of generations of Jewish youth because Talmud Torahs were unable to impart enough Jewish knowledge and inspiration to enable children attending public school to withstand the secular influences and forces of assimilation in that environment. But today, there are many effective Jewish resources avail-

of a formal Jewish component and environment during their child’s regular school hours. Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, the International Director of Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, says that when grappling with this question, parents must understand that there is no universal right answer, and that “individual circumstances will override general concerns and attitudes.” A particular child may be able to gain more form a Jewish perspective from the combination of an excellent public school Special Education classroom, supplemented by a Jewish Sunday program,

the occasional Shabbaton, and a summer in a Jewish camp, than enrollment in a yeshivabased program that fails to capture their interest. In the real world, some Jewish Special Ed programs are better than others. Just because a Special Ed program is operated by a Jewish organization does not guarantee the amount or quality of religious content in the curriculum. Nor does it mean that all or even most its students are Jewish, especially if it is not located in a Jewish neighborhood. One of the advantages of public school Special Ed programs is that they are provided free of charge to the parents. The cost of operating a private Special Education classroom is very high. Tuition in Jewish programs start at about $30,000 a year, and with additional services, the total can run to more than twice that amount. While available grants and partial scholarships help, and many parents do fight to get Board of Ed reimbursement, the net cost is still a serious concern for all but the wealthiest of families. Parents who send their child to a public school program can use the money saved to pay for private Jewish tutoring and to enroll their child in afterschool, Shabbaton and summer camp programs that meet their Jewish and social needs. Children who function at lower cognitive levels are often strongly influenced by experiencing Shabbos, Yom Tov and

other mitzvah observances in a strong Jewish home environment. This can also at least partially make up for the absence of a formal Jewish component in their daily school program. A parent’s criteria for choosing between a secular or Jewish program may change as their child gets older. The advantages of a superior secular pre-school program, for example, could easily outweigh less well-regarded local Jewish programs. Parents could decide they can make up for that choice by reading more Jewish books to their pre-school child at home. But a few years later, when the child has started reading on their own, the parents may decide that it’s time to switch to a Jewish program, regardless of the advantages of the secular program.

es. Rabbi Rothwachs notes a shortage of programs designed to provide for “students with moderate to severe behavioral and psychiatric challenges. The emotional and psychological health of any student is the foundation for all other academic, social, and spiritual growth. These are challenges that cannot be overlooked or minimized. Many parents have made the difficult decision to seek a secular public or private education that can support their children’s psychiatric health,” Rabbi Rothwachs said. The BiY program is a New York City public school initiative for Yiddish speaking students. It operates bi-lingual Special Education classrooms in which the second language is Yiddish. They are located in Brooklyn schools. There are

“Many parents have made the difficult decision to seek a secular public or private education that can support their children’s psychiatric health…” Parents may have trouble finding a Jewish program which addresses all of the Special Needs of their child. This is especially true in cases where the child has a combination of physical and developmental disabilities. An otherwise excellent Jewish educational program may be ruled out because it is inaccessible to a child in a wheelchair. The spectrum of needs addressed by Jewish programs, while diverse, is not yet complete. This has left parents of children with underserved mental health needs, in particular, facing very difficult choic-

elementary (ages 5-11) and middle school (ages 12-13) classrooms, and a high school and vocational training program (ages 14-21) whose curriculum includes functional math and reading, technology, art and music as well as practical living skills. Idy Markowitz, a teacher in the high school and vocational training BiY program at PS 721K, has become a volunteer advocate, explaining its benefits to parents who have not been able to find a Jewishsponsored program that is appropriate for their child. This includes the fact that students September 2015


and teachers in a Yiddishspeaking classroom are obviously Jewish, and most are likely to be religious. The BiY program is part of NYC Board of Education District 75, which was created to serve children with Special Needs. The city generously provides more resources for the BiY program than are available to any comparable Jewish Special Ed program. As a public school program, BiY instruction is forbidden to have any religious component. However, PS 721K’s administration and staff, including Idy Markowitz, do all they can to make students to feel comfortable following their religious practices. For example, the school principal issued a rule that all PS 721K students must eat on place mats in the school cafeteria, so that the kosher students would not stand out. Religious students are also allowed to go off to a quiet corner to daven by themselves. Religious parents who send their children to the BiY program do not make that decision lightly. Mrs. G. said that her husband, who is a Special Education-trained teacher, researched every available Jewish program before deciding that the BiY was the best choice for their teen-age son four years ago. Since enrolling in BiY, their son has been participating in a Jewish-sponsored after-school program daily, and learning Torah with his father every night. Mrs. F. said that after her son, who is on the autism spectrum, aged out of the elementary Jewish program he had been attending, she couldn’t find another one suitable for his needs. She learned about BiY from Idy Moskowitz. She recalled that her son had difficulty with the initial transition to the public school environment. After his first day, the 14-year-old told his mother, 14

September 2015

“I’m not going back!” But soon he stopped complaining about the school, and within a month, she noticed a dramatic improvement in his behavior. He stopped being violent, and started making progress in his studies. As far as his religious life, Mrs. F says her son remembers all the things he learned while in the Jewish program and studies Chumash with his father as much as his medication permits. He also gets a positive Jewish influence from

one day a week, for kids who needed additional support. Her daughter thrived, but when Mrs. S. brought her back last September to start 1st grade, her class size had increased from 25 to 31 kids, and was assigned a classroom that was too small to allow her daughter to move around with her walker. Also, the hour a week of extra help was no longer being offered. When Mrs. S. complained to the local school board, she was told that the crowding in the school

child’s educational needs? Dr. Lichtman says that when trying to make that decision, parents must try to put their personal preferences aside. Choosing not to send their child to a yeshiva is a gutwrenching decision for many religious parents. They must be careful not to allow their own feelings to interfere with doing what is best for their child. He strongly recommends that parents seek the advice of an educator or psychologist whom they trust and who can evaluate their child, unemotionally consider the available options, and give them an objective recommendation. In reaching their decision, Dr. Lichtman says, “parents must remember that a yeshiva education alone is not what makes a child religious. The spiritual influences of their family and community can be just as important. There are many possible paths to reach the desired outcome for a child. The challenge is to figure out who your child is and marshal all available resources to help the child reach the overall goal.” In choosing the right program, parents must keep basic priorities in mind. Dr. Lichtwould only get worse because man says these are, “In order of the number of immigrants to be a Jew, one must be a human first.” moving into the district. This means that parents must Mrs. S. and her husband decided to that, for 2nd grade, first make sure that their child their daughter couldn’t stay is functioning as a “mentch” at the public school, and they (good, respectable person) were grateful to find a suitable as well as their Special Needs Jewish Special Ed program for allow, even if that entails the her. The experience has taught painful choice of sending their Mrs. S. not to plan too far child to a non-Jewish school, ahead her daughter’s educa- before focusing on raising tion, and instead to just “put their level of “ruchniyus” (reone foot in front of the other.” ligious/spiritual development) Which brings us back to the as a participating member of basic question. How can reli- the Jewish community. gious parents decide when it is appropriate and necessary Yaakov Kornreich has been an Anglojournalist for more than 40 years. for them to set aside their reli- Jewish He is the Senior Editor of Building Blocks gious concerns and send their and the Health & Living supplement of the child to a non-Jewish program Jewish Press. because it best meets their

“But soon he stopped complaining about the school, and within a month, she noticed a dramatic improvement in his behavior. He stopped being violent, and started making progress in his studies…” the Williamsburg Chassidic community where he and his family live. Mrs. F has no regrets about sending her son to BiY. “It was a major step,” she said. “I thank Hashem for sending him to the right place. For a child like him, it is the best alternative.” But the situation in a public school can change significantly from one year to the next. Mrs. S. found an excellent integrated kindergarten classroom at a local public school for her daughter, who has a physical disability in addition to relatively minor developmental delays. The classroom had a regular teacher, a Special Ed teacher and a para, and offered an extra hour of instruction,

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September 2015


Twin Perspectives By Gila Arnold


hen a child is diagnosed with a disorder, it is clear that his or her life will never be the same. Becoming a ‘child with special needs’ forever colors the child’s destiny, influencing his or her future in a way that is obvious to all. Yet, behind the scenes, there are others whose lives are also irrevocably affected by this child’s diagnosis. Starting from those in their immediate family – parents and siblings – and spiraling out to the extended family of grandparents, aunts and uncles, and to the community at large, be it neighbors, teachers or friends, there are many whose lives will be touched and shaped by this child. Perhaps no relationship is as unique as that of twins. The special bond between two children born together has been documented extensively. Yet what happens to that bond when the special needs of one of them gets thrown into the mix? While this may seem like a very narrow population subset, twins having special needs is actually quite common; because they’re more likely to be born premature or have problems in utero, there’s a higher likelihood of one or both experiencing resultant disabilities. How does this affect the twin relationship? How does the normally-developing twin relate to the sibling with special needs whose identity is so intertwined with his own? And how do parents manage caring for two children of the same age, whose needs are so different? Dragged Along for the Ride By 13 months, Yael had al16

September 2015

ready realized that her son, Yitzi, wasn’t communicating the way his twin, Avi, was. At 15 months he had a speechlanguage evaluation, followed by a psychological evaluation, which resulted in the diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Thus started what she calls a “roller

with big bags of toys, just for his twin, while he got shunted off to the side. “While he never acted angry, I saw he was jealous,” relates Yael, who says she tried to compensate for this by doing something special with him, like reading a book or eating ice cream.

coaster” of therapy, therapy and more therapy. And Yitzi’s twin Avi was dragged along for the ride. “Yitzi had thirteen 90-minute sessions a week of ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapy, in addition to OT and speech,” says Yael. “We were basically held hostage at home.” Not only was Avi confined to the house during all of his brother’s therapy sessions, but he had to endure watching a parade of therapists come in

Now six years old, their mother says that she still sees signs that Avi feels attentionstarved. “This past year, Avi’s preschool contacted us, suspecting that he also has some sort of issue and that we should get him tested,” says Yael. Part of that had to do with the school’s bias, knowing about his twin’s disability. But part had to do with Avi himself. “Avi would keep telling his teachers, ‘I can’t do this!’ Simple things, like putting

his pants on himself – which of course he knows how to do. But he wanted attention, and not knowing how to do things was the model he saw from Yitzi for how to get loads of attention.” They did the testing which the school recommended, and the results were all normal – enabling the teachers to get beyond their preconceived notion that Avi must have PDD as well, and start to appreciate why it was that Avi was acting out. “In actual terms, Avi probably gets more attention than most boys his age,” says Yael. “I’m home full-time, and his father works from home, so we’re both always around. But it doesn’t matter, because whatever he gets, Yitzi, because of his disability, is always going to get so much more, so Avi will always end up feeling deprived.” Painful Balancing Act Caring for a child with special needs is difficult and exhausting enough without having another child the same age to care for as well. All the parents agreed that finding the right balance between giving the child with special needs the level of care and attention he needs, while still making the typically developing twin feel special is more than just a struggle- it’s a near impossibility. It’s a situation that can leave a careworn, emotionallydepleted parent with a truckload of guilt. And, sometimes, the repercussions can last a lifetime. “My daughter was born five minutes after my son,” relates Miriam*, who lives in Australia. While her twins are now

well into adulthood, Miriam recalls the trauma of their birth as if it were yesterday. “My daughter was born breach, and wasn’t breathing, so they raced her to the NICU. But then, even once she’d stabilized, hours passed and they wouldn’t give her back to me.” That’s when she was informed that her baby girl had Down Syndrome. While it was quite a shock for the new mother, what added to her distress was the nurses’ attitude. “They wouldn’t let me see her, and instead kept talking to me about my ‘options’. It was only after my obstetrician got involved that they finally released her from the NICU and brought her to me.” This was the beginning of a very long journey which would take Miriam’s daughter Bracha through 20 operations and countless hours of therapy. Miriam was by her side all the way, despite having other young children at home, including Bracha’s twin, Levi. “It was a very difficult period,” she recalls. “I had no family support, and had to do everything myself, which had a huge impact on the rest of the family. My whole life revolved around Bracha, taking her to doctor’s appointments, surgeries, therapies – and Levi was always getting schlepped along.” Despite a lot of gloomy prog-

noses from doctors and therapists, Miriam was determined to give her daughter every possible shot at developing her skills. She recalls the encouragement she was given, while still in the hospital with her twins, by mothers of older children with Down Syndrome. “I remember one mother coming to visit with her 10 year old son who had Downs, and while there, the boy looked at his watch and told his mother,

However, this devotion came with a price. “Levi was very resentful,” Miriam admits. “I didn’t even realize how resentful he was of the attention Bracha got until he was older. But there were little incidents here and there that gave it away.” For example, they once had a Shabbos guest over, when the twins were about 13, who bluntly asked Miriam whether they planned on putting Bra-

“Caring for a child with special needs is difficult and exhausting enough without having another child the same age to care for as well…” ‘It’s already 12:00; it’s time for lunch!’ I was amazed; here, the doctors were telling me that my daughter would be practically a vegetable, and this boy was able to tell time!” Buoyed by this, she worked with her daughter relentlessly, teaching her colors at age two, times tables at age 10. Her hard work, devotion, and persistent belief in her daughter’s ability to succeed paid off; today, Bracha is very high-functioning, having gone through school and attended a seminary with the help of an aide, and now holds down a part-time job.

cha into a group home in the future, when they couldn’t care for her anymore themselves. When Miriam retreated into the kitchen, in tears, Levi made sure to inform the guest that he, for one, would never consider taking over his sister’s care. More hurtful was what happened the first time Levi’s future in-laws came to visit the house, soon after he got engaged. They looked around and asked, in a significant tone, “Where are the baby pictures of Levi?” Miriam was quick to show her one they

had hanging up, to which they responded, “That’s all?” “We had no more of any of our other children,” she says, still recalling the hurt she felt at the insinuation. “But it was quite obvious that Levi had told his in-laws that we don’t give him the same attention as the rest.” Miriam insists that she worked hard at giving Levi and all her other children attention, and doesn’t think there was anything she could have done differently under the circumstances. Unfortunately, as an adult, Levi does not have a good relationship with either his parents or his twin. Stark Contrasts When a child is born with special needs, having a twin right by her side who is developing normally can throw the lack of development of the other into greater relief. However, it can also make a parent appreciate her blessings even more. Peshy’s twins were born at less than 25 weeks – so precariously early that the doctors were warning her not to get her hopes up about their survival. The ensuing few months were a whirlwind of hospitals and surgeries for the two babies; yet, miraculously, after four months, one of the babies, Yossi, was discharged – while

Editor’s Note: In the last few years, there has been increasing awareness about the impact on siblings when there is a child with a disability in the family, and twin siblings may be even more vulnerable as evidenced by many of the parent’s narratives. Thankfully, there are also now more supports available to siblings to mitigate some of the challenges and help the overall family unit. Here are some tips to promote healthy development for typically developing twins: • Enroll your typical children in one of the many sibling programs now available, for example Sibshops, to give them an opportunity to process their feelings about their sibling and meet other children who are dealing with similar challenges. • Involve your child in a “big brother” program that introduces your child to an older child or teen who acts as a friend and mentor. This gives your child some extra attention and someone to hang out with when their twin is busy with all of their extra therapies and appointments. • Take advantage of the many respite programs that are available, such as after school and weekend respite, to give your typical child some time and attention of their own that is not overshadowed by the demands of caring for their twin with a disability. • Set expectations for both children in the home, each according to their level. Don’t give the twin with a disability a “free pass” when it comes to household chores, as long as they are capable, as this may increase resentment by the typical twin. • Validate your typical child if she expresses any feelings of resentment or distress about her sibling. Those feelings are normal and should be given a forum for expression. • Check in with your typical twin frequently about how he is doing. Make sure that he is allowed to express his own needs and concerns, and that they are not overlooked in deference to his siblings’ more intensive needs. September 2015


Moishy continued to go from hospital to hospital to deal with his many medical issues. These issues were so severe that, after turning their house into a round-the-clock hospital ward to bring him home at 16 months, and still having numerous panicky trips to the emergency room, the painful decision was made to transfer Moishy to a long-term care facility, where he still is today. “It came to the point where we realized, who were we doing this for? My identity, my entire life, was revolving around him, at the expense of my other children. Moishy is developmentally at the level of a sixmonth-old (even though he is now five years). So we brought him to a wonderful, frum (religious), loving facility.” While Yossi knows that Moishy is his twin, Peshy says that it’s hard for him to fully grasp the concept. “My older child used to tease Yossi about being younger than Moishy – since he is, by three minutes. And Yossi would get mad – ‘he’s not older than me! He’s a baby!’” Peshy says that she sometimes has more difficulty with the concept, especially when she sees other mothers pushing double stroller with healthy baby twins inside. “It’s normal to sometimes think, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have twin boys like that?’” Yet she says that she works hard to push away this thought, and appreciate the blessings that she has in her life – one of which is Yossi himself. “The fact that Yossi started off in the same spot as Moishy, and is now such a wonderful, brilliant boy, is mamesh (truly) a pure gift from Hashem (G-d). When he was born, he wasn’t even considered a viable baby! I’m so grateful for Yossi- it’s helped me reach a point of appreciation for the gifts Hashem has given me, rather 18

September 2015

than wallowing in the pain.” Peshy has had to draw on deep stores of Emunah (faith) to come to this point, and she tries to give this over to her children as well. “I feel strongly that our children absorb our own attitudes,” she says. “My kids used to make comments like, ‘When will Moishy come home already?’ But we’ve spo-

that she was never able to come home from the hospital. Now in a long-term care facility, the other siblings originally had difficulty dealing with the fact that their sister wasn’t coming home. “At the beginning, especially, they would say things to me like, ‘Why can’t you take her home? If you’re the mother, you have to care for her!’”

“Peshy says that she sometimes has more difficulty with the concept, especially when she sees other mothers pushing double stroller with healthy baby twins inside…” ken about how this is where it’s best for Moishy right now, and by now they’ve come to accept that.” Leah*’s twins, Hindy and Estie, are in a similar situation; while both were born premature, with many serious concomitant health issues, Hindy steadily improved to the point that now, several years of therapy later, she attends a regular school – while Estie’s medical condition grew worse and worse to the point

Leah took her children to therapy to help them deal with their feelings, and was taught the best way to speak to her children about the situation. “We make sure to tell them that the minute their sister gets better, she’s coming home. That there’s no such thing as giving children away.” By this point, she says, they’ve come to a greater level of acceptance of the situation. One of her young daughters expresses her feelings about this:

“It’s sad because I want to have two little girls in the house that look the same,” she says. “When she was first born, I was sad and confused. But the home where she’s in is very nice and fun.” Leah says that Hindy will sometimes make comments about having a twin, saying things like, “If my sister were here, would she be standing next to me now?” But for the most part, she’s too young to be affected by this, and takes it as a fact of life that Estie lives someplace else. Leah, like Peshy, sees a big bracha in the fact that Hindy is a healthy, normal girl. “I call her my million dollar baby. When she was sick on an incubator, I never dreamed she’d be walking and talking one day. We definitely appreciated every little step of progress she made.” Leah maintains that, as a result of her twin’s condition, they worked doubly hard at giving Hindy all the therapy and help she needed. “Seeing her improve at the same time that Estie was getting worse gave me a stronger resolve to keep pushing, to give Hindy all the help we possibly could. So in a certain way I can say that it’s in Estie’s zechus (merit) that Hindy is doing so well.” Twin Bond? Do parents see the existence of the special twin bond even in such cases where one twin has serious disabilities? Most of the parents say that they do see glimmers of it, even when the other twin doesn’t live at home, and is unable to communicate. “When Moishy was living at home, Yossi would sometimes climb into his crib and make him giggle,” says Peshy. Leah relates that Hindy will occasionally ask in concern whether Estie’s in pain – which they assure her that she isn’t, because the doctors give her medicines. Miriam sadly avers that she doesn’t believe there was ever

a bond between her twins. “Their relationship was never good,” she says. “He was always exceptionally jealous of her, and embarrassed as well.” At this point, as adults, when he sees her at family get-togethers he will throw her a, “How are you?” but that’s about it. Yael, however, says she sees clear signs of a bond between her twins. “If Yitzi is sitting and playing with his tablet, and Avi comes to sit next to him, Yitzi will look up and smile, and keep checking to make sure that Avi’s looking at him. The same will happen when they’re playing together in the playground – Yitzi will be running around, and Avi will chase him, and Yitzi will look back to make sure Avi’s there. This type of communication on Yitzi’s part doesn’t happen with any other child.” One day, she says, she was teaching the boys letter writing. She had Avi write his

name, and then decided to try of therapy, Avi would search a point where we are unable to with Yitzi. She wrote down around for him, wanting for care for him?” And, on the other hand, will the letters of his name, to have his brother to join him. him copy them. But instead, Still, Yael worries about what Yitzi himself, as he develops more awareness, see his twin brother presenting the picture of what he could be, should be, and isn’t? There is no way to know what will be in the future. But for now, she works hard at giving Yitzi all the help she can, while at the same time providing Avi with lots of loving attention and outlets in which he can shine and feel special. It’s a double burden, as all parents of twins can attest, and one which requires a double from memory, he wrote down will be as they get older. dose of emotional and physiAvi’s name. “I’m bracing myself for the im- cal strength. “There’s definitely a strong pact,” she says. “How will it feel Yet, at the end of the day, the identification,” she says. at their bar mitzvah, when the parents can reap a double dose For Avi’s part, he is still contrast between the two will be of nachas (pride). young enough that he hasn’t so great? How will having Yitzi learned to be embarrassed by as a twin affect Avi’s shidduchim Gila Arnold works as a freelance writer and a speech therapist. She is a regular his brother. When they were (dating)? Will Avi feel burdened contributor to several Jewish publications. in camp together, and Yitzi by him as he reaches adulthood Gila lives with her husband and children had to miss some days because and my husband and I come to in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

“I call her my million dollar baby. When she was sick on an incubator, I never dreamed she’d be walking and talking one day. We definitely appreciated every little step of progress she made.…”







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September 2015


Neurodiversity View and New Innovations in Autism By Dr. Joshua Weinstein

Autism : Treatments e Alternativ e and Innovativr fo Therapies ment the Treat Of Autism

increasing the oxygen content of plasma and body tissues and has the ability to stabilize oxygen intensities in ischemic tissue. Moreover, animal studies have revealed that HBOT has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and reduces oxidative stress. Additionally, latest data establishes that HBOT galvanizes stem cells from human bone marrow, which may Hyperbaric Oxygen assist in recovery in neurodeTherapy (HBOT) generative diseases. Based upon Autism is a complex devel- these findings, it is assumed that opmental disability and is a HBOT will improve symptoms in neurological disorder that af- autistic individuals. fects the normal brain funcDr. Martha Herbert tion and development of a on Autism Treatment person’s communication and and the Possibility social interaction skills. Reof a Cure cent research has found that Dr. Martha Herbert, a pedisome people with autism have atric neurologist and neuroscireduced cerebral perfusion, entist and a brain development evidence of neuroinflamma- researcher indicates there is tion, and enlarged markers proof indicating people progof oxidative stress. Research ress and improve from autism. studies have discovered hypo- Her main research interests are perfusion to numerous areas in addressing autism and variof the autistic brain, most re- ous other chronic brain conmarkably the temporal regions ditions as “dynamic encephaand areas explicitly associated lopathies” (that can change) with language comprehen- rather than as “static encephasion and auditory processing. lopathies” (that are fixed for Numerous studies demon- life) and in how environmenstrate that reduced blood flow tal vulnerability affects brain to these areas correlates with and body health and function many of the medical features in an ongoing fashion, and not connected with autism includ- just before birth. ing repetitive, self-stimulatory Dr. Herbert has seen a variand stereotypical behaviors, ety of things, such as children and deficiencies in commu- becoming more communicanication, sensory perception, tive, making eye contact and and social contact. increasing speech when they Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy have a fever. How can that (HBOT) has been used with clin- be? What changes so quickly ical success in some cerebral hy- that gives them the ability to poperfusion syndromes includ- do what they normally can’t? ing cerebral palsy, fetal alcohol Some individuals who become syndrome, closed head injury, articulate briefly after anestheand stroke. HBOT can compen- sia. These people talk and are sate for reduced blood flow by sociable during a two-day pe20

September 2015

riod when they’re only on clear fluids preceding a surgical or a medical procedure, then lose the abilities when food is introduced into their diet. Now, up to 20% of people with autism are losing their diagnoses, usually after some fairly intensive therapies. Dr. Herbert believes autism is shaped from moment to moment, by conflicts in brain chemistry and immune function that change the way nerve cells fire and the way they can communicate with each other. Dr. Herbert says that it’s time to re-think autism. In her studies she’s found situations with almost total recovery, and she’s spoken to individuals who have had temporary transformations. Dr. Herbert believes we must take these observations seriously because we could be having an entirely different set of outcomes than what we now settle for. Neurodiversity Prospective For a long time, the most prevalent approach has been the deficit model. In this model, people with autism are portrayed as broken, operating at a “deficit”, in need of fixing to enable them to function normally in society. This approach is called Eroding. This deficit-focused view of autistic people has basically ignored their cognitive strengths, their diverse way of being, and their gifts and talents. Many academic studies of autism present a limited or token discussion of the strengths, gifts, and talents of autistic people, or they leave them out entirely. As the neurodiversity perspective continues to gain traction, we

are seeing more innovations in autism around the world. The principles in neurodiversity eliminate the idea of one “normal”. Now, developers in every industry are “fixing” society to work for people with autism. New treatments and therapies are being put into practice that reflects that ever-evolving understanding of neurodiversity. Technology is the industry where we are seeing the most in new innovations.

New Innovati ons in Techno logy Emergency Chat Phone App: Jeroen De Busser, Belgium After suffering a meltdown, with little help from his wellintentioned friends, Jeroen De Busser, a Belgian computer science student at the University of Antwerp developed Emergency Chat. The user friendly app shows splash screen with a base text that explains to the person you gave your phone to that you can’t use speech and want to use this app to communicate. The default text is aimed at people experiencing an autistic meltdown, where their speech centres stay non-functional for a while even after they’ve recovered. The Emergency Chat App is free and available on Android and iOS. Laugh Out Loud Aide (LOLA): Tech Kids Unlimited, Brooklyn Seth Truman, a member of TKY with Asperger’s found the constant reminders by his

family and teachers to complete his tasks annoying which led he and his father, Greg, a former writer for “The Wiggles” television show to create the Laugh Out Loud Aide (LOLA) app. LOLA aims to give reminders in a humorous way, eliminating the annoyance for everyone! The teenagers who developed the app belong to Tech Kids Unlimited (TKU), a notfor-profit organization based in Brooklyn. TKU’s founder, Beth Rosenberg, explained that LOLA was a wonderful way for the children to self-advocate and create something for themselves. “We want to be a part of the conversation. These students have an amazing ability to learn and create and have so much potential to offer society,” Rosenberg added.

LOLA won “Best Emotional/ Social Solution” and the People’s Choice vote at New York University’s Connect Ability Challenge, aimed at inspiring participants to create technology that is helpful for people with disabilities. The LOLA app is $.99 and available on Android and iOS. BioHug Vest: Raffi Rembrand, Israel This Israeli engineer and father of a son with autism developed the BioHug Vest. The BioHug Vest, powered by a small battery is able to calm and relax the user. The inflatable air cells deliver firm but gentle pressure resulting in a fundamental response of the nervous system. In addition to being able to calm and relax people on the autism spectrum, it can work its magic on anyone!

Self-Assessment Test for Autism: Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom Psychologists at Cardiff University have developed a self-assessment test for autism. It measures the extent adults are affected by repetitive behaviors, a criteria used to diagnose the condition. This new test will allow people to assess themselves at clinics. It is on trial in clinics across the UK. It found consistently higher scores for people with autism after it was trialed on 311 people. Though it cannot be used as a diagnostic tool, it is certainly a useful resource. Increased acceptance of the neurodiversity perspective is resulting in a greater societal understanding of the

needs of the autistic community. Industry leaders believe this increase in awareness will continue to lead to the development of more autism-friendly environments. More autism-friendly environments reduce the barriers that many people with autism are currently challenged with, thus leading to an overall improvement in the quality of life for people with autism and their families. Dr. Joshua Weinstein has been an educator and administrator for over four decades. He holds a Ph.D., two Masters Degrees in Educational Administration and Supervision, and an MBA in Executive Administration. He has been the CEO in healthcare, social services, and business corporations. He’s the president and founder of Shema Kolainu - Hear Our Voices, and ICare4Autism. He can be reached via email at:


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The Justice Center Protecting People with Disabilities, Two Years In By Leah (Rothstein) Gottheim


t’s hard to believe that until just two years ago, New York State employees who were known to have repeatedly abused or neglected people with disabilities who were under their care, could still be rehired at other facilities. For those who would question the relevance of journalism in the modern age, the establishment of the Justice Center is a clear example of how words have the power to bring about change. A series of articles in the New York Times in 2011 exposed multiple systemic failings in the system of small group homes, including abuse and neglect cases that led to the death of individuals, failure to refer cases to the authorities (only 5% of 13,000 recorded allegations in 2009 were ever brought to the police), and multiple instances of hiring employees with a history of abuse. In response to the publicity, the Cuomo administration created the Justice Center to protect the 126,000 individuals with disabilities who live in institutions, small group homes, or receive services from New York State. There is a unique challenge in protecting this population because many of them aren’t able to speak or effectively advocate for themselves. Many also lack involved family members who can help. A Staff Exclusion List to prevent abusers from being rehired is just one of the changes made with the founding of the Justice Center. A central piece of the legislation is a change in how incidents are reported. Staff are now mandated to report every instance of suspected abuse, neglect, or other significant incidents to the Justice


September 2015

Center’s Vulnerable Persons Central Register 24/7 hotline. A significant incident, according to the NY Protection of People With Special Needs Act, is “an incident that…has the potential to result in harm to the health, safety or welfare of a person receiving services.” Examples include the use of excessive punishment with aversive stimulus or unnecessary restraint, or administering medication against medical orders.

stances of over-reporting because staff members are afraid of negative consequences if they don’t call. Esther Gottlieb is the Director of Performance Improvement at mishkon, the department that handles investigations and incident reporting and compliance, and she deals directly with the impact of the new laws on her field of work. “Rather than going up the chain of supervisors until

“Thanks to the Justice Center, it’s harder for incidents to slip through the cracks…” Avrohom Adler, executive director of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services’ Mishkon program for people with ID/DD (intellectual and developmental disabilities), explains that staff are required “to call the Justice Center if they suspect abuse or neglect, and if they do not, they can be held liable. It puts a lot of stress on the staff.” Staff members were afraid they’d have to call every time something happened and start a whole police investigation every time someone made an honest mistake. They were afraid they’d lose their jobs. As Adler puts it, “The new structure created a direct pipeline from every level of the organization.” This directness is a positive thing in many ways, because it increases accountability, access and the chances that abuse and neglect will be caught. However, one flipside of this greater directness is in-

it gets to the person who reports complaints, it’s become the witness addressing the state directly. It’s another layer of oversight for agencies. It creates accountability and encourages staff to speak up and be advocates.” “Change is difficult,” says Gottlieb. “It hasn’t been their role, for staff to call the government. But they’re learning and receiving annual training on the Justice Center and obligations to report. Posters with the hotline number are hung in all the residences as a reminder.” “It’s been a big learning curve- for staff and for families too,” she adds. “But I think that things are moving in a positive direction. Just as with everything new, it takes time to implement.” As the laws have now been in effect for over two years, it is a good time to assess the program’s success.

The Justice Center receives approximately 140 reports a day to their hotline (although that number may include multiple reports of the same incident). They have closed 17,903 cases since they started operating. Currently, 155 people are on the Staff Exclusion list, and twelve of them were barred from employment following a check of the list. But as with any new system, there could be potential for misuse. Couldn’t an employee with a grudge trigger an investigation, or a minor incident blow up into a bigger deal than it really was? Part of the new legislation requires every witness of an incident to call the hotline, so that the Justice Center hear every perspective of the issue. Anyone who has a report substantiated against them has the right to appeal, via a specific appeals process. False reports are against state law and criminal charges have been filed against people who have brought them. The Justice Center and cooperating agencies have made strides in communicating about how incidents are classified and labeled while under investigation. The Justice Center doesn’t investigate every case itself, but they have jurisdiction over other organizations’ investigations. Their Special Prosecutor helps local district attorneys prosecute cases effectively, and Vulnerable Person’s Task Forces are being set up throughout the state to work together with the agencies to take corrective action afterwards. “Prior to the Justice Center,” Gottlieb explains, “incidents were handled through each section of the OPWDD (Office

for People with Developmental Disabilities), but there was no central place to go through. Now, the Justice Center makes the final decision but collaborates with OPWDD.” Thanks to the Justice Center, it’s harder for incidents to slip through the cracks. According to Gottlieb, “there’s a benefit to another layer of protections, and there are more ramifications, like the staff exclusion list. There is more weight to it and greater scrutiny for the organizations as a whole, as there is more effort put in to substantiate a finding.” However, because the Justice Center is a new agency, they don’t always have years of experiences with the nuances of day-to-day scenarios in group homes, where individuals can be hard to manage. OPWDD and other state oversight agencies have helped the Justice Center apply the law to people’s specific situations.

Clients can be violent and difficult to deal with, and staff are afraid that necessary restraints may look bad to someone watching who is unfamiliar with the difficult nature of the job.

just honest mistakes and neglect, not the outrageous cases of other organizations that you have to treat like criminal cases. “After two years in practice, we see it’s created more work for the agencies. There are so

crease in paperwork and interviews takes up a lot of time.” “The new system was set up with the right intentions, but it uses up agencies’ limited resources and more work is required in order to do things in the right way.” Esther Gottlieb disagrees. She believes that “it’s not as big a burden as it sounds, because the average phone call is only 5-6 minutes to report the incident.” More importantly, it’s a matter of perspective. “Keeping individuals in our programs safe is the most important thing, so it’s worth the staff ’s time,” she says. “This is just as important as other caregiving tasks.” many things to report if an Ultimately, says Gottlieb, the agency genuinely wants to do Justice Center does “really care its due diligence. It used to be about the safety of the individuthat if it was a minor [inci- als we serve, so it’s a win-win.” dent], we’d just deal with it, but now we need to call it in. For Leah (Rothstein) Gottheim lives in Passaic, New Jersey and is a frequent contribuexample, if one of our clients tor to the Jewish Press. She also works as the hits another client, we now Director of Marketing and Operations for and is the alumni cohave to make a report. The in- ordinator for the Jewish Educational Center.

“Keeping individuals in our programs safe is the most important thing, so it’s worth the staff’s time…” One director of a program for people with special needs has the following take on the changes: “For the overall system, I understand it. From my own organization’s point of view, it seems like we don’t have the cases like the ones that triggered the scandal and reform,

September 2015


Let’s Play!! Supporting Play and Playful Interactions

By Lynn Abelson, MA, CCC-SLP, OTR/L and Susan Smith-Foley, MPA, OTR/L


an you recall cherished play activities from your childhood? Perhaps it was building sand castles on the beach with endless trips backand-forth to the water’s edge to fill pail after pail with water, raking leaves and then jumping joyfully into the pile, dressing dolls for fashion shows, building ferris wheels with Tinkertoys® or spacecraft with Lego®.  But what happens when play does not come so easily to the children we love and care for?     Before we go any further let’s first explore why play is so important. Why is Play so Important? Play is so important that the American Academy of Pediatrics published guidelines in 2007 regarding play in American children.   It is described as essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth while providing opportunities for parents to engage fully with their children (Ginsburg, 2007).   Play ushers the child into the world of symbolic thinking where symbols and images can represent reality (Wieder & Greenspan,

2003). In 2008 the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) also published a statement on the importance of play and the role of occupational therapists in supporting play throughout the lifespan.   That’s right, adults need to play too!       Play and Playfulness - Can I Play with You? As parents it is important to recognize that something as seemingly simple as playing is actually quite complex.    Play starts in infancy with changes in facial expressions, simple motor actions, vocalizations that are initiated by the child and then joyfully joined by the caregiver(s).   A back-andforth synchrony of interactions unfolds, leading gradually to more elaborate sensory motor actions beyond the child’s body.   Toys and objects are explored, manipulated, and combined and the child begins to represent familiar caregiver routines, such as feeding a baby, cooking dinner, or going to work.   More complex symbolic (pretend) play, emotional range, and imaginary thinking typically develop from here.   Adult co-regulation may be needed to prepare an infant or child to be ready to

Developmental Benefits of Play • Sensory motor - multi-sensory exploration, sensory and emotional regulation, imitation, gross motor development, manipulation of objects, early tool use, motor planning and sequencing, and visual spatial development • Cognitive - cause-and-effect learning, shared and joint attention, concept development, problem solving, impulse control, ability to play games, pre-academic and academic development • Language – comprehension of objects, actions, relations, and events; non-verbal (vocal tone, facial expressions, gestures) and verbal communication; emotional sharing; share desires, intentions, feelings, ideas, and experiences; conversational skills • Social emotional – bond with primary caregivers and family members, interest in peers and peer play, emotional range (joy, sadness, anger, etc.), peer relationships and friendships, and culturally derived social skills • Provides practice arena for adult roles 24

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play. This may take the form of the caregiver providing firm touch pressure or using a soft, soothing voice, for example.  We know as adults that virtually nothing gets accomplished if we are upset, over stimulated, fatigued, or cranky. How Do We Optimize Playful Interactions? The first step in optimizing playful interactions is to embrace the concept that play is the most important occupation of childhood and offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children.  One challenge many families face is having little dispensable time to devote to play.  A powerful solution is to wholeheartedly accept the idea that play and playful interactions need not be limited to scheduled play times and play dates.   Playfulness is a state of mind that can be creatively integrated into all family activities (e.g., bathing, mealtime, cooking, car rides, food shopping, etc.).  Joining a toddler splashing in the bathtub or squealing with delight when he squeezes a funny sounding tub toy, calling out every red car you see on the road during car rides with your child, or pretending to be cooks preparing a special meal replete with your child’s favorite dishes are all activities of daily living that have the potential to be rich and meaningful playful interactions. Parents are often told that play takes away from real learning and that good parents actively build every skill and aptitude their child might need from the earliest ages (Ginsberg, 2007).  Whether the skills sought by parents are thera-

peutic, educational, artistic, or athletic the unifying factor is that children are often left with little to no time to freely choose play that is under their control. It is critical that children across developmental abilities be supported and encouraged to explore their individual interests in their own chosen ways.   Through play children have the opportunity to become intentional, creative, and to develop a sense that their choices make a difference.   How do we encourage this?  Watch carefully, listen, and notice what your child is doing.  This will be the key to understanding your child’s interests and joining in his play, and will facilitate rich, playful interactions.  For example, you bring home multi-colored textured beanbags and are anticipating your child’s delight in touching them and perhaps even engaging in a color matching game with you.  Instead, your child begins throwing the beanbags at you and laughing.  Before you redirect the activity consider what your child is telling you, grab a bucket, catch the beanbags, and join the fun.  This may be one way your child’s initiates and sustains a playful interaction with you.  Let’s play!!

Lynn is an Associate Faculty member at Profectum Foundation and an Adjunct Professor at Montclair State University. She is a speech-language pathologist and DIR Program Manager at The Phoenix Center in NJ. Susan is an Associate Faculty member at Profectum Foundation. She is the owner of Avon Occupational Therapy, Inc. in NJ. Susan has expertise in integrating the DIR model in school-based practice. (The DIR Model was developed by Stanley Greenspan, MD and Serena Wieder, Ph.D)

SPECIAL NEEDS EXPOS WESTCHESTER Sunday, November 8, 2015 11am-4pm

Westchester Marriott 670 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY Discover special needs resources for children and adults. Meet a large variety of product and service providers, attend seminars and demonstrations.

Free Admission


Fun for the Kids

Register now at:

For information about sponsor, speaking, and exhibitor opportunities: Phone: 516-279-3727 or Email:


CAPTURING THE POWER AND POTENTIAL OF PLAY, MOVEMENT AND CREATIVIT Y: THE DIR MODEL SETS THE STAG E There is a bottom line! Seeing the gleam in your child’s eye; having a back and forth conversation; playful interactions; playing to learn, and the joyful relationship that every child and parent need. No matter which intervention approaches you have underway for your child, developing a relationship is everyone’s goal and the DIR Model fits children of all ages and can support your goals. We invite you to attend Profectum’s 5th Annual NY Conference. Our theme is “PLAY”, the most important capacity to advance development.

PARENT SCHOLARSHIPS are available ~ Please visit our website or contact REGISTER NOW Presentations from ...

John J. Ratey, MD

Suzi Tortora, EdD

Serena Wieder, PhD

Richard Solomon, MD Rosemary White, OTR/L

Alisa Vig, PhD

88 East Main Street # 212 H | Mendham, NJ 07945 | Phone: (973) 531-4376 | Email: September 2015


Kids Yoga Benefits Children With and Without Special Needs By Avigael Saucier Wodinsky, PhD, MEd, MBA, RYT-200


oga is a discipline or system of practices that originated in India. It is made up of physical, mental and spiritual components. The purpose of yoga is to help individuals reach their greatest potential in health and inner peace. Some people express concern about the philosophical and spiritual aspects of yoga, however, basic yoga classes tend to focus on the physical postures, poses, breathing techniques and deep relaxation or meditation. Practicing yoga increases flexibility, strength, stamina, and balance. It also improves posture and decreases stress. For children, especially those with special needs, it can help improve focus and attention, increase self-regulation, develop motor skills and facilitate self-awareness Children face more stress than ever before. Mental health issues, attention problems and behavioral concerns have become prevalent. Research shows that academic achievement and overall happiness requires children be resilient, focused and able to self-regulate. Many children lack these skills which are necessary to adapt and thrive despite adversity and challenges. Many lack the ability to focus their attention, manage distractions or manage their impulses and control their emotions. Practicing yoga encourages children to think about their bodies and focus on the effort required to achieve and hold a particular pose. Practicing this single focus teaches children to focus and concentrate, skills which can be carried into the classroom and other areas. When a child masters a particular posture or series of poses, it increases his or her 26

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confidence and enhances selfesteem. While yoga can benefit people of all ages, from infancy through adulthood, it has been found to be particularly beneficial for children with special needs, particularly those with autism and ADD/ADHD. In 2012, NPR published a story about children with autism in a Bronx

gross and fine motor skills. Breathing techniques are as important as physical postures in yoga. Yoga classes often begin and end with breathing exercises. Consciously breathing has been shown to decrease anxiety or anger by increasing calm and slowing down physical responses to stress triggers. For example, if a child is experiencing a

school who practiced yoga for 17 minutes daily. These students showed a decrease in aggressive behavior, social withdrawal and hyperactivity Yoga is a wonderful physical activity for children. As children learn to use all of their muscles in new ways, it promotes physical strength. Children with weaker core muscles benefit tremendously, as do children with muscle imbalances. Whether a pose is done standing, sitting, or lying down, each one can challenge various muscle groups while helping a child become aware of his or her body. Practicing balance poses not only increases coordination, but gives children a sense of accomplishment as they improve. Yoga-based exercises can be used to increase both

stress reaction, instruct him to close his eyes and imagine he is holding a balloon. Have the child inhale deeply and exhale fully and slowly, as if he is blowing up the balloon. Have him pause for a moment and repeat the deep inhalation and full exhalation to continue blowing up the balloon. I use this technique frequently when working with children. After teaching this technique, I often try to preempt frustration during difficult activities by starting with several “balloon breaths”. I then have students pause throughout the activity to take another “balloon breath”. This keeps the body calm, which helps to keep emotions in check. Meditation and deep relaxation are generally used at the end of a yoga class

or practice, but can also be practiced on their own. This process of turning inward and focusing on the present moment calms and quiets the mind. At the end of my children’s yoga classes, I have the children lay on their backs with their eyes closed. I then use meditation stories to help guide them into a peaceful and relaxed state. I have found that even the rowdiest group of boys love this time to rest and slow down. Parents can use these techniques to help children slow down before bedtime, as well. It’s important to keep the children engaged. In my yoga classes for children, we tend to focus on a theme or “adventure.” For example, the class will take an imaginary trip to the circus during which we practice poses relating to different things one might see or do in a circus. We might practice animal poses such as camel, downward-facing dog and cobra, pretend to be clowns and do various balance poses, pretend to fly on a trapeze or jump from a cannon. Yoga can be practiced in school, in yoga classes and even at home. With the combination of physical activity, breathing techniques and meditation, it is a well-rounded activity that helps children with and without special needs meet the increased stresses and demands of life. For many, it greatly improves quality of life. Avigael Saucier Wodinsky lives in Long Island with her husband and 2 children. She is a special education teacher who specializes in working with children with autism and ADD/ADHD. She is also a certified yoga instructor who leads classes for adults and children in West Hempstead. She can be reached at avigael.

How to Talk to Your Infant and Toddler By Betty Aboff, MA, CCC-SLP, TSHH


any children begin understanding language and speaking their first words at their expected milestones. However, many children do not speak, or speak less than they should for their age. Below are language stimulation techniques recommended to help parents facilitate and expand their child’s understanding of language and speech and language skills. B Play The importance of play cannot be emphasized enough. Children love to play various games with all types of toys. Try to sit at your child’s level while interacting and playing; sit on the floor or at a small table with chairs. You can model the appropriate way to use the toys presented using hand over hand or showing the child how to explore the toy appropriately through trial and error. Always remember to laugh, smile, be bubbly and use an animated voice. C Delay responses to gestures Wait a few minutes to respond to your child’s non-verbal communication and then respond appropriately. This allows the child an opportunity to use verbal communication. D Talk The importance of being vocal during your interactions with your child is very important! Talk about the here and now, and speak slowly. If the child is speaking in 2-word combinations, use 2-3 word sentences when responding. Talk about everyday events/ routines such as getting dressed and eating dinner. Use “selftalk” (what you are doing while child is watching)--for example, “Mommy’s eating now.”

Comment on actions of the child (“parallel talk”-what the child is playing with, seeing, or doing), i.e. “Jeremy is eating,” labeling common objects (i.e. “cup”), and describing objects throughout your play interactions and during everyday activities. Language and new vocabulary is best learned while doing something. E Modeling Provide a good model for your child to follow. For example if your child says: “baby hurt,” you say “put a Band-Aid on it.” Model words for your child, especially for their wants and needs. Modeling helps the child increase their under-

she must use language to get what he wants, and can’t simply grunt or point. G Set up opportunities for the child to be frustrated and have a need to communicate Withhold or sabotage activities by holding all or part of a toy that the child wants, until the child uses approximations or words to request the item. H Use Positive Reinforcement Always make your child feel good about speaking. Respond quickly to your child’s efforts at speaking, and reward the attempt at communicating to you

standing and use of words. Try to pair the words you say with a visual cue such as a picture or actual object. Speak slowly, using clear, simple and consistent speech. Speaking slowly will make it easier for your child to understand what you said to him/her. Make sure to provide pauses, giving time for the child to respond to what you are saying. F Don’t use language to anticipate your child’s needs or desires Give your child the chance to make his needs known. Always offer choices before giving your child what he/she wants, and model the vocabulary at least 3-5 times, i.e. “Do you want a ball or the car?” The child will learn that he/

with verbal praise. Be specific, i.e. “good talking,” “good for you that you said ___,” or use a gesture such as a high five. Encourage and praise all verbal and non-verbal attempts (whether or not they are perfect) the child is using to communicate his needs to you. I Expansion Expand what the child says; if the child says “car,” you say “blue car.” Generally, add one or two words to what the child has said to you, i.e. “baby” and you say “baby sleep” or “baby eat cookie.” J Imitation Begin with imitating actions, animal sounds, environmental sounds and nonsense syllables, and progress to syllables and words. A child usually will imitate a word before he can say it

on his own spontaneously. K Association Supply the vocabulary for a new experience or word your child doesn’t know. Your child may say ‘car” and then you add “has wheels like daddy’s car.” L Follow the Child’s Lead Talk about what interests the child. Use a child’s choice of toy to engage him/her in play; as he is interested in the toy, he will be more likely to listen to the language being modeled by the parent while playing with the toy. M Be an Active Listener Listen to your child. Show that you are listening to what he/she has to say. This will show the child that his/her message is important to you! Encourage listening activities; a child has to learn to listen before he can learn how to speak. N Repetition Repeating the label for objects or actions helps the child learn and incorporate the new word in his vocabulary, making the child feel comfortable with it so he will begin to use it. Always remember to maintain good eye contact! A child wants to talk to you when you are listening, smiling, interested, and asking questions. Give the child all the time he needs to express himself. EVERY ACTIVITY CAN BE A LANGUAGE LEARNING EXPERIENCE! Betty Aboff is a Speech-Language Pathologist with 25 years experience in evaluating and providing therapy for children ages birth to five with a range of speechlanguage delays. She works for MKSA (HASC subsidiary), an agency providing a full range of early childhood and school age services for children with developmental delays. Betty can be reached at MKSA at 516-731-5588, or by email at baboff@ Visit MKSA at (new website coming soon!). September 2015


... hts Into

Insig By Sandy Eller


e may not be able to walk or talk, but Meir Efraim Turner, who has cerebral palsy, has still managed to collect thousands of dollars for a local tzedaka over the past several years, one coin at a time. Meir Efraim, 30, has suffered from health issues since birth which may have been exacerbated by a nurse’s failure to take the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit as directed. Over time there were signs that Meir Efraim, the sixth of fifteen children, was not progressing as he should, but it was years before his mother, Golda Turner, ever heard the words “cerebral palsy” used in association with her son. “There was no early intervention then and no one said he had cerebral palsy, just that he needed therapy,” Mrs. Turner told The Jewish Press. “He was doing the things babies should be doing. He did manage to stand up holding on and as time went on his muscles were getting tighter as they do with cerebral palsy, but we knew nothing about cerebral palsy then. We had no diagnosis until a few years later when a therapist in school said to me, ‘well, children with cerebral palsy are like that,’ and that was when I learned that Meir Efraim had cerebral palsy.” Cerebral palsy is a broad term covering a wide range of movement disorders caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control movement, 28

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Living with Cerebral Palsy balance and posture. First documented by Hippocrates centuries ago, cerebral palsy typically occurs either during pregnancy, birth or shortly thereafter and can present differently in each case, ranging

retardation. There is no definitive test for cerebral palsy, which is diagnosed based on a physical exam and prior medical history. The vast majority of cases are identified before a child’s first birthday. Cerebral

from mild to severe. Symptoms include stiff and/or weak muscles, poor coordination, tremors and difficulty speaking or swallowing. Approximately 10,000 infants are born with cerebral palsy each year, making it one of the most common causes of chronic childhood disability according to WebMD, with 35 to 50 percent of affected children also suffering from seizures and some level of mental

palsy is a lifelong condition that is currently incurable but available treatments can greatly improve both motor function and independence. Mrs. Turner, founder of Beineinu, an organization which provides support and information to families dealing with special needs, said that much has changed since her son’s diagnosis over two decades ago. “When he was born there were no frum (religious)

schools offering special education and many people gave away their kids,” said Mrs. Turner who also has a grandson with cerebral palsy. “I would purposely take my son with me wherever I went, so that people should see a child who is a little different but could still be part of the community.” At one point, Meir Efraim was invited to give a short speech using his communications board at the inaugural fundraiser for an organization that provides services to those with special needs. “My mother was sitting behind the Skverer Rebbetzin who said to her in Yiddish, ‘I never knew these children could do something,’” recalled Mrs. Turner. “A few months later, little by little, things started changing. It became okay to have a child with special needs. You never know what kind of changes you can bring about.” Mrs. Turner, who lives in Monsey, describes her son as extremely friendly and warm. “He doesn’t let a wheelchair hold him back,” said Mrs. Turner. “When he wants to do something he does it.” In addition to attending a daytime program for individuals with special needs, Meir Efraim also helps manage his father’s office and is responsible for Chesed 24/7’s Medicine Chest program. His daily after-davening tzedakah (after-prayer charity) collection has earned him accolades

throughout the Monsey area. “He is a kid in a wheelchair, who can’t talk and he has raised over $10,000 over the last six years,” reported Mrs. Turner. “He has a very full life.” There have been vast improvements in the cerebral palsy arena in recent years according to Denver chaplain Rabbi Ben Last whose 15 ½ year old son David was diagnosed with cerebral palsy around his first birthday. “He was our fifth and we noticed some delays in his movement,” said Rabbi Last. “They were not really, really serious, but were enough for us to be concerned.” David was diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy, the most common form of the condition, where increased muscle tone results in stiff muscles and awkward movements. “David’s brain is sending messages to his muscles to constantly fire,” explained Rabbi Last. “What you and I feel like after exercise, he feels like 24/7.” David’s cerebral palsy only affects his mobility and he can walk limited distances. He was mainstreamed into a regular class in first grade at a multidenominational school, Denver Jewish Day School. “Their approach was ‘na’a’se v’nishma,’ accept him in and then address his needs when they come up,” said Rabbi Last. “They are constantly striving to make David’s education the best that it can be.” Many of the classroom challenges that children with cerebral palsy faced years ago have been minimized in today’s world of information and electronics, simplifying schooling. “David is now in tenth grade and teachers are emailing and scanning his work, which means there are less notes to

write and fewer textbooks to drag around,” said Rabbi Last. “Baruch Hashem (thank G-d)

the entire year doing physical when his son was initially therapy and this past summer diagnosed he spoke to Rav he had the most recent surgery Gedalia Schwartz, a prominent Chicago rabbi, to find out if he should be making an ongoing misheberach (prayer for health) for his son’s health and was told that his prayers were appropriate and could aid doctors in their ongoing research. Reflecting on those words over a decade later, Rabbi Last acknowledged just how on target Rabbi Schwartz had been, given today’s medical advances in the field of cerebral palsy. “When I see these surgeries, I see that the p’sak (rabbinical decision) that I got was on the mark,” said Rabbi Last. “15 to 20 years ago, these things weren’t even on the radar.” for technology which makes it to restructure his ankles to Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who much easier for both parents give him a straighter gait.” writes for numerous websites, newspapers, and kids with cerebral palsy.” Rabbi Last recalled how magazines and many private clients. She can be contacted at Socially, however, cerebral palsy can still be very isolating. “A big issue for David as a teenager is that it is difficult for him to keep up with his fellow students who are running and doing,” said Rabbi Last. “Having all his extra physical therapy weekly leaves him little time for typical teenage activities.” Rabbi Last described his son’s cerebral palsy as moderate and said that over the years David has undergone several major surgeries. “The first one was when he was five,” said Rabbi Last. “They broke David’s hips and rotated them to accommodate better walking. In the summer of 2014 they literally rebuilt the bottom half of his body, making a number of incisions in the leg muscles to lengthen them, repositioning his kneecaps which had been pulled out of place by the muscle tone over the years and adding bone to his right ankle to force it straight. David spent

“Approximately 10,000 infants are born with cerebral palsy each year, making it one of the most common causes of chronic childhood disability according to WebMD…”

September 2015


Spotlight on

Vision Therapy By Barry Katz


ears ago, when someone was cross-eyed or had a lazy eye (scientifically known as strabismus and amblyopia), the person was thought to have the malady for life. Later on, it became possible to surgically ameliorate the problem, but as with many medical procedures, these surgeries were costly and were not without their risks. Recently, however, the field of vision therapy has emerged as way of fixing these problems without surgery. What is vision therapy? Vision therapy encompasses a great deal more than fixing the aforementioned problems; it can help individuals who have a variety of problems. Joel Warschowsky, in his book How Behavioral Optometry Can Unlock Your Child’s Potential: Identifying and Overcoming Blocks to Concentration, SelfEsteem and School Success with Vision Therapy, explains the way vision therapy works. He says that vision therapy “utilizes remedial procedures to modify and improve the way eyes and their link to the brain performs.” Thus, according to the author, once the vision problems are corrected, then the child’s academic performance will likely improve, and there are likely to be improvements in other areas as well. How does it work? Melvin Kaplan gives an example of a vision therapy technique in Seeing Through New Eyes: Changing the Lives of Children with Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Other Developmental Disabilities Through Vision Therapy. He writes about a five-year-old girl named Tory, who had problems with 30

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orientation. During the treatment, he had her use disruptive yoked prism glasses, which disoriented her vision. This forced her to increase her focus, which – along with other treatments – helped her improve her orientation. And combining vision therapy with other forms of treatment is a significant key to success, according to Kenneth

struggled with processing information. She found that the problem was caused by a condition known as Irlen Syndrome, in which there is “sensory overload due to the brain’s inability to process light and visual information accurately, efficiently and fluidly.” Sometimes, fluorescent lighting or black letters on a white background can exacerbate

glasses can decrease stress in the nervous system, which relaxes the reader and enables him or her to function better. A practitioner of the Irlen method, Shamberg says that these methods have helped some overcome chronic migraine headaches. Shamberg points out that the problem is often diagnosed and treated in one or two sessions.

Lane, author of Visual Attention in Children: Theories and Activities. Therefore, he says, it is common for vision therapy patients to be in physical or occupational therapy as well. Additionally, some vision therapists perform different types of therapies in addition to vision. The eye-brain connection Throughout her career both as a therapist and a teacher, Shoshana Shamberg, a vision therapist and occupational therapist from Baltimore, noticed that often students

the problem. Aside from the processing problem, the Irlen Syndrome has also been associated with migraines, anxiety, and attention deficit. She compares people with this problem to a clock. “When the gears are moving in sync, timing is accurate. [But] if there is a nick in one gear, one will obtain time but it will not be accurate and less accurate the longer the timing is out of sync “It will tick, but won’t give you the right information.” Using colored overlays and spectral filters worn as tinted

After that, patients go for yearly checkups to ensure that the tints are accurate. Shamberg says that millions have been helped over the years using the Irlen Method in concert with other treatments that patients may be seeking. “When practitioners are working together, the clients saves time, money and the agony of misdiagnosis and years of untreated symptoms.” What vision therapy is not Inasmuch as many patients and guardians of patients can attest to vision therapy’s suc-

cess, it is not intended to improve one’s eyesight. A decade ago, a product called the See Clearly Method claimed to do just that through eye exercises. Yet after a number of lawsuits, the company was forced the company to shut down. How does one become a vision therapist? Often, those who perform vision therapy are optometrists who use these treatments as a supplement to their usual practices. Some, however, are specifically vision therapists. To become a visual therapist, some attend a graduate school that has vision therapy as a major. In the New York area, for instance, Hunter College

offers a major in their school of education called Visual Impairment: Rehabilitation Teaching. But the focus of the program – as well as many other masters programs – is on helping those who are visually impaired, which does not encompass the same maladies that vision therapists could help fix. Therefore, some opt to major in other fields but pursue a certificate in vision therapy. One organization that offers certification is the College of Optometrists in Vision Development. The COVD does not require that the applicant have a degree in a field related to optometry, but he or she must pass a series of exams. Another organization

that offers certification is the American Association of Certified Orthopists. The field of orthoptics is similar to vision therapy, and to obtain a certificate from the AACO, one must not only take a number of exams, but also spend two years in a fellowship learning the trade. Finally, one can become certified to practice the Irlen Method at the Irlen Institute. Being a vision therapist Once one has completed one’s certification, one is in a position to have what the AACO calls a “rewarding” career. Although some oppose the efficacy of vision therapy, calling it a form of alternative treatment, Leonard Press,

who wrote a textbook on the topic, says that it is hard to argue with success. “Many of the M.D.s who criticize vision therapy have not done their homework,” Press told the Optometrists Network website. He adds that he has seen more schools sending their students to vision therapists, and thinks that as more people realize how helpful it can be, the public perception toward the field will continue to improve. Shamberg concurs, saying that in her career, she has seen hundreds of success stories, and that number will keep growing as vision therapy becomes better known. Barry Katz is a college adjunct professor who lives in Brooklyn, NY.

September 2015


Raising Children with Limits By Yonina Kaufman, LMSW, M. Ed, SSW


o you ever find yourself completely exhausted and stressed with the many responsibilities that bombard you on a daily basis? Do you tend to wonder why things feel so overwhelming to you while others seem to handle life with finesse and ease? Every now and then you may even take a risk and actually share how you are feeling with a friend or family member...only to be met with the following: “I have this great idea...Just try it, it’s easy!” You give it a try and go from feeling somewhat handicapped to feeling like a total failure! What can we do to end this cycle and begin to feel empowered in our roles as parents and caregivers? As mentioned in earlier articles, I glean a lot of my information and experience from the Love and Logic Approach. One of the main principles of Love and Logic is that instead of completely shifting everything we do in our interactions with children, it is healthier and more effective to think of the new ideas as “experiments.” There are a lot of variables that affect the success of an experiment. The greatest part of an experiment is that success is measured by effort and not outcome. This allows “Just try it…” to be a guiding principle and not a measure of competence. What works one day with one particular child may not work the next day. Children are human beings. They come to us with predispositions, moods and different responses to their environments. When we can step away from trying to change our children and moving to32

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ward helping them cope in their world, while developing resilience we will find ourselves feeling less exhausted and more focused on the process than the outcome. We all know that any success we observe with our children is short term and the ultimate measure is the kind of adults they grow to become. If we only focus on making them “perfect” now, we are shortchanging ourselves and our experiences as “growth facilitators.”

oping and preserving a healthy, positive relationship with the child, while recognizing that establishing boundaries and parameters within the relationship is essential to accomplishing the long term goal Parenting is a process. All of the research around caregiver capacity focuses on self-care. When adults take good care of themselves, by setting limits without anger, lectures, threats, or repeated warnings, not only are they preserving their energy, but they are modeling healthy self-care.

“When adults take good care of themselves, by setting limits without anger, lectures, threats, or repeated warnings, not only are they preserving their energy, but they are modeling healthy self-care…” Let us explore some practical ways to reduce stress around getting through common daily routines and procedures. Keep in mind that any ideas offered here are merely “experiments.” I also recommend trying new ideas with less challenging personalities, if possible. Success breeds success, for both adults and children. The mindset of the adult should include the following: • A focus on preserving the dignity of both the child and the adult • Sharing as much control as possible, to allow for growth and confidence to flourish • Using empathy before sharing a consequence and as a response to negative information • A long term goal of devel-

We spend a lot of time and energy owning our children’s problems, denying them the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to be resilient and productive adults. It is important to remember that when children cause problems, adults should hand these problems back by providing large doses of empathy and logical/natural consequences. These two rules can be summarized as: B Self-care C Hand problems back to children, using genuine empathy and natural consequences As I started to familiarize myself with these concepts, I began by stepping back and observing what mornings and evenings in my home would look like to a complete strang-

er. The observations were painful! I came to realize that I was often in “survival mode” where the adults would engage in a combination of begging, pleading, bribing, lecturing and threatening. I also started to notice that the harder I worked, the less my children worked! Some of the small changes I implemented in the morning slowly shifted the energy and focus. One of my favorite Love and Logic strategies is called “Enforceable Statements.” The idea is to let the child know what you allow instead of telling the child what to do. For example, saying something like, “Breakfast will be served until 7:15” is a lot more effective than, “Hurry up and eat!” Its power comes when you calmly clear the cereal and milk at 7:15 and empathize with the fact that s/he missed breakfast time. This may feel cruel to some, but imagine in the effect of a child not sitting and eating a bowl of cereal with milk ONE morning, versus you having to nag him/ her for decades. Some parents are not comfortable with “denying food,” so an option may be cereal in a bag instead of the luxury of cereal with milk in a bowl. The goal is to stay calm, let them know you understand that it’s frustrating to miss breakfast, but that tomorrow breakfast will be served until 7:15 again. When delivered with confidence, genuine empathy and no sarcasm, the message is: we have rules here and I trust you to manage yourself in a way that allows for our home to function without anger, threats or warnings, while making sure your needs are met. • I allow you to play with….

as long as there are no problems • My car leaves at 8:15 • You may leave your light on to read as long as you are in bed • I can understand you when your voice is calm • I can continue reading the story when everyone is quiet • We can start eating dinner when the table is set • I give out candle lighting treats when there is nothing but furniture on the living room floor • I take kids places when I feel respected • I help with homework when the kids do most of the work • I buy clothing for kids who take care of their clothes A generic Enforceable Statement starts with “I allow...” and ends with “ long as there are no problems.” What I also realized in my self-exploration was that I was expecting my children to do things in a particular way, yet

I had never explicitly taught take pictures of the children dignity of the adult or child. I them my expectations. In the doing each of the tasks and have heard a number of wellmorning, for example, it is posting them, in order, as re- known therapists say that they have young clients sit in their offices sharing that in homes “As they grow up and listen where there is an absence of and parameters, the chilto their friends talking about rules dren will lie to their friends, their homes, you may find that pretending they have rules. Rules make children feel safe they take pride in the way their and secure.

parents calmly, yet firmly set limits, without sacrificing the dignity of the adult or child.…”

common to hear frustration in the mornings around washing, getting dressed, making beds, eating breakfast and getting out of the house by a specific time. Experience has shown that having some “practice runs” before school starts can be incredibly beneficial for all. Depending on the ages and personalities of your children, some parents find it helpful to

minders. The fewer words we have to use, the more energy we will have! Will your kids thank you for setting limits with them? Probably not, in the short term, but as they grow up and listen to their friends talking about their homes, you may find that they take pride in the way their parents calmly, yet firmly set limits, without sacrificing the

Yonina is an MSW graduate of New York University and an MS graduate of Touro College certified in Education and Special Education. She is presently employed by the New York City Department of Education servicing a number of schools in the New York Metropolitan area as a School Social Worker. She has been working with teachers and families since 2005. She uses the Love and Logic framework to guide her work and offers parenting courses for couples in a group setting. In addition, she collaborates with educators on improving classroom management techniques and supports students, educators, and administrators on meeting the diverse social/emotional needs of students and parents. Yonina currently resides in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and five children. To learn more about Love and Logic or to reach Yonina, feel free to contact her at:

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September 2015


Places to Go


on’t have time for a long family vacation? Day trips with your family can be very enjoyable. If you live in the NY/NJ/CT tri-state area, come explore your own backyard. Spend the day enjoying fresh air, scenery, and the many local attractions the lower Hudson Valley has to offer. Take a drive through the mountains to see the stunning fall foliage. This area has something for everyone in your family.


admiring the paintings, the embroidered tablecloths and especially the hand-stitched patchwork quilts, each with its own picture or motif. I stare, fascinated, as the glass blower creates delicate figurines out of a glob of glass. I gaze at the pride on the faces of the 4-H youngsters as they proudly display their award winning farm animals and produce. There are a number of County Fairs every summer to enjoy. Some of our favorites are: Traveling Jewish • Orange County Fair (Middletown, 845-343-4826,www. There are a number of Jew- ish communities in the Lower • Duchess County Fair Hudson Valley including Mon- (Rhinebeck, 845-876-4001, sey/Spring Valley, New Square, New City, Mount Kisco, Kiryas Joel, just to name a few. Kosher U. S. Military Academy food, minyanim, and other at West Point Jewish services abound. (West Point, 845.938.2638, County Fairs Attention! Present arms! Military parades are an exI have a particular affinity for citing sight to see. Rows and County Fairs. The kids spend rows of uniformed soldiers the day enjoying the rides and marching in exact formation, games and the men enjoy the accompanied by a marching rodeo, stunt shows, or demoli- band. West Point is the Unittion derby. As for myself, I love ed States Military Academy to browse the craft displays, where young army officers


September 2015

By Golda Turner

before modern conveniences such as plumbing and electricity. Costumed guides show how things were done many years ago. Though this is not a Jewish exhibit, a visit to this living museum will help understand the roots of Hilchos Shabbos, which are based on how work are trained to be future lead- was manually done by our aners. Visit the Visitors Center cestors for thousands of years. and military museums and Most buildings are wheelchair view the military parades. accessible. Guides will come View beautiful scenery along out of non-accessible buildthe Hudson River. Guided ings to provide descriptions to bus tours are also available wheelchair users. (845.446.4724, www.westPlayland Most of the (Rye Beach) grounds are wheelchair accesAmusement Park sible. If you join the tour but use your own accessible vehi(Rye, 914.813.7000, www. cle, they can give you a speaker All kids love so that you can follow the bus rides, and this amusement and hear the tour guide. park has 40 acres of them! Spend the day enjoying over Old Rhinebeck 50 rides for all ages, mini golf, Aerodrome boating, indoor ice skating, (Rhinebeck, 845.752.3200, and entertainment. Old Rhinebeck is more than just a unique museum of antique vehicles and aviation history— Come on weekend afternoons, and you can see antique airplanes take flight and perform exciting air shows. Biplane rides are also available for the brave of heart. Grounds are wheelchair accessible. Museum Village

The Castle

(Monroe, 845.782.8247, Did you ever wonder about life in the colonial days? Museum Village brings history to life in a recreation of a colonial village. Tour the grounds to learn how people lived in the days

(Chester, 845.469.2116, Located on Route 17N not far from the NYS Thruway, The Castle is a small place that packs in loads of fun for kids of all ages. They feature arcades, go karts, mini golf, laser

tag, a climbing rock wall, and other activities. Mostly wheelchair accessible. Bounce Trampoline Sports ( Po u g h k e e p s i e , 845.206.4555,,) Bounce, bounce, bounce! Imagine 10,000 square feet of interconnected trampoline to bounce on to your heart’s content! Play dodge ball, basketball, jump into foam pits, or just jump, jump, jump! Separate area for children under 6 years old. Wheelchair accessible. The Valley Cottage branch of Bounce (Valley Cottage 845.268.4000) has weekly sensory bounce sessions with an OT in attendance for those with Sensory Processing Disorders and others with sensory challenges including those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The hour-long program includes decreased auditory and visual stimuli in a less crowded environment, structured group activities with limited class size, and an available quiet room with sensory manipulatives.

Palisades Center Mall (West Nyack, 845.348.1000) Many of us enjoy shopping for bargains at the large 4-floor Palisades Center Mall. But how many have visited the mall’s latest addition? The open center area of the mall now contains an 85 foot tall rope climbing course called Palisades Climb (845.727.3500,, created for those brave souls who crave an adventurous challenge. The indoor course is designed with 5 levels and 75 challenges to please both the novice through advanced athlete. They also have a Sky Tykes rope course for kids. For children and those that prefer to keep their feet closer to the ground, Billy Beez on the

mall’s first floor (845.535.9277, is a good place for active people to Places run, jump, slide, bounce, and to Go climb. And be aware that the mall’s Post office (845.727.4081) does U. S. passport applica- juice in your mouth as you tions without an appointment bite in. Some farms also have additional attractions such as even on Sundays! hay rides, pony rides, petting zoos, etc. Most orchards are Town Tinker somewhat wheelchair accesTube Rental sible when the ground is dry, (Phoenicia, 845.688.5553, though uneven ground and This tree roots may make it a bit is a perfect trip for a hot day. more difficult. Here are a few nearby orchards: Float down the Esopus Creek • Dr. Davies Farm in giant tubes. Relax and enjoy (Congers, 845.268.7020, the blue sky, the wildlife, and the scenery along the way. But • Orchards of Conklin beware—you will get wet! (Pomona, 845.354.0369, New Roc City • Applewood Orchard (Warwick, 845.986.1684, (New Rochelle, 914.637.7575) An entertainment complex • Apple Ridge Orchard featuring an IMAX theater, (Warwick, 845.987.7717, www. bowling alley, indoor skating rink, go karts, miniature golf, • Lawrence Farms Orchards arcades, and much more. (Newburgh, 845.562.4268, Apple Picking • Masker Orchards (Warwick, Do you love to eat fresh 845.986.1058, • Pennings Orchard (Warfruit? How about picking wick, 845.986.1059, www.penthem by yourself—you can’t get any fresher than that! Sep- • Harvest Moon Farm tember and October are the (North Salem, 914.485.1210, perfect time to visit a local orchard and pick bushels of www.harvestmoonfarmandorfresh juicy apples of various • Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm varieties right off the trees. (Yorktown Heights, 914.245.5111, Breathe in the heavenly aroma which surrounds you and feel • Outhouse Orchards the crunch and squirt of sweet (North Salem, 914.277.3188, There is so much more to see and do in the Hudson Valley. Come, enjoy, and build great family memories. Golda Turner is the director of Beineinu, an organization providing information and support to families and professionals dealing with special needs. Their website,, contains a rapidly growing database of information and resources, as well as a large chizuk library. For more information contact September 2015


When the Department of Education takes the day off for Yom Kippur… ever wonder what they would atone for? move to the next stage in life... Mother in For every hearing that had to the Shoe be requested for issues the CSE could have resolved has they cared to do so... For every parent who felt they were disrespected at their child’s put... impartial hearing... For offering services that fit the DOE’s budget and not the stuFor every parent who left an dent’s needs… IEP meeting in tears... For misinformation whether knowingly given or not knowFor things that were done that ingly... should not have been done and For telling parents they are offering the maximum when there things that weren’t done that really is no maximum... should have been done... For not explaining parents’ their rights in the process... For all of these things... For taking a one size fits all approach to special education in...It would be nice if this was reality but in the meantime, wishing stead of looking at each student as an individual... everyone a happy, healthy and less stressful new year. For cutting services for the sake of cutting services... Editor’s Note: The author’s interpretation of the DOE reciting For grouping sessions that should be individualized... confession on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur For taking shortcuts when writing goals and objectives... For every student who as a result was not properly prepared to



mmm.... For not involving parents as active participants in the creation of their child’s IEP… For making decisions about the student’s services without the teacher’s or therapist’s in-


Who am I?


hen I read your note from child to Mother - and ONLY to Mother (P. 39 of the June ‘15 Issue of Building Blocks) - over Shabbos, to say that I was incensed and inflamed, is an understatement. I am the PROUD father of a 5-year old autistic son, and I would NEVER call him “a baby” - neither would any father I know, in the same situation. To suggest otherwise is a true disservice to us.

If you want to write “My Friends call me a baby?” That’s a real problem, and one many children face. But a child should ALWAYS see both their parents as being committed to loving, supporting, and accepting them. My Zachie’s Parents BOTH say he is their precious son - and so should ALL parents BLESSED with a Child they were entrusted to care for.

Editor’s Note: We truly appreciate your feedback on the poem published in our last issue of Building Blocks magazine. We hear how passionate you are when expressing your unbounding love and pride in your child. The poem in question was an expression of emotion. Though we all love our children with special needs, parents may find themselves at different levels of acceptance and have different coping styles and ability. At Building Blocks Magazine, we encourage expression of pride, love, and acceptance, while at the same time allow parents to express concerns, frustrations and any other feelings they may have. We hope that all of our parents reach your level of love and acceptance, and hope that they can celebrate their child for what they are; a precious gift from G-d. 36

September 2015


By Hinda Klass

ou and I both see a child I don’t see him as you do Perhaps it’s because I’m his sister Or maybe for you this is new I see how you stare at his drooling I see how you cringe at the stains I watch you inspect his old wheel chair And all of the things it contains You don’t seem to notice his smile Or the motion he makes with his hands My brother is trying to greet you He knows that you don’t understand My brother is looking right at you He sees how you look back at him He sees you observe him with pity My brother’s not stupid or dim So feel free to sit there and watch him Inspect him, dissect him; it’s free Label, disable and judge him But please don’t imagine you see You see a disabled child I see the boy as a whole You see a child with a neck brace I see a child with a soul


Welcome to Italy with Your ADHD Child

ou thought you were going to have a lovely tour of Italy, like everyone else on the bus. And it seemed that way at first. Though your little bundle of joy was unusually active, and needed so little sleep. Seems normal at first- aren’t all kids active? After 5-6 years, you notice that your experience in Italy is a little different Other kids are singing sweetly in the choir, your child is shifting feet, pulling on her robe, and keeps bumping up against the child next to her. You go to the plaza to enjoy the fountain, everyone is walking around leaning over, tossing coins in, your child is up to her arm sleeves reaching in & pulling coins out, teasing another child, wait, now she’s pushed another kid & maybe she didn’t mean to, but now that child fell in the fountain & she is screeching with laughter You go on the bus tour to see the famous sights of Rome. It is late in the day and all the other families are sitting quietly & listening to the tour guide, turning their heads to see things as you drive by. Your child, however, keeps interrupting the tour guide, asking questions and arguing about who really painted the Sistine Chapel, with her own weird ideas that she knows is wrong, but sounds funny to her, so she keeps arguing…. Eventually the tour organizers are so fed up with your child disrupting tour activities that they politely ask you to leave You take your child and rent a yellow Fiat & drive around the hills of Italy, really fast with pop music blaring. Only stopping to chase goats & climb on the ancient ruins. OK folks, By popular re-

quest, the first installment of why going to Italy with invisible disabilities is not like a trip to Holland. I have heard that when you have (or are going to have) a child with an evident and visible disability, people start to tell you how having a child like this is just like going to Holland when everyone else in the world went to Italy. They tell you how there will be tulips & unicorns and pretty hearts. They tell you how you will become a so-much-betterperson since you got to go to Holland, you lucky dog. (Sarcasm, OK, can you tell?) This is not about Holland. It is about having children with invisible disabilities. The kind of disabilities that most people will not notice, and will not cut you or your kids any slack for having. Since, obviously, you did sign up to go to Italy & here you are on the tour bus. So what is wrong with you & your kids that you are not appreciating how amazing it is to be in Italy (not that we think there is anything wrong with Holland, you understand.) And when you first get to Italy, you will probably think that Italy is great & everything is working out fine for you and

your kids. It is only slowly, bit by bit, that it dawns on you, that your Italian vacation is going a little bit different than everyone around you. Like when you realize that other children do not need a full hour to put their socks on just right with the seam lined up just so. It is a total surprise one morning to over hear another mother bragging about how they were able to wake up and get ready in just 7 ½ minutes that morning, instead of taking the usual 15 leisurely minutes to get dressed and out. “Uh?” You think, “What would that be like?” It becomes more evident that the Italian tour bus thing may not be working out for you and your child when you realize that after a full day with nothing to eat but pizza and gelato, your child is having a full on melt down every afternoon at about 2pm. Inevitably right in front of an important statue by Michelangelo, or a flock of nuns who tisk-tisk the poor parenting that would cause a child to behave that way in public. Then, when you try to start a discussion with the tour-leader and some other parents about maybe stopping at one of those


nice Italian markets to buy some fresh salami & cheese & nice local fruits for the afternoon snack, they all look at you like you are some kind of radical kook who wants to destroy civilization as they know it. “And besides,” they tell you, “Our kids will never eat that kind of food. It’s so expensive too. What a waste to buy it for little children.” • No offense is meant by this piece to Emily Kingsley, nuns, Dutch people, Italian people, unicorns, people who have offered me advice, or people with visible disabilities or impairments & their families. • Future posts may include going to school in Italy, going to a party in Italy, participating in the religious community in Italy, and getting kicked off the tour bus in Italy. At the writer’s discretion, a yellow Ferrari may be included at any point.

September 2015


ADHD Revisited By Chavi Brody



hen I got up from my afternoon nap, I headed towards the kitchen and tackled the lunch dishes. I was interrupted by an unexpected knock at the door. With sudsy hands, I let in six year old Yoeli. “It’s three thirty! How come you came home an hour early?” I asked my little boy. “I don’t know. My Rebbe said I should come home” mumbled Yoeli. Hmm, something was fishy here. It’s not the first time it happened. “Have a drink and then play” I directed him to the toys, while making a mental note to call Rabbi Cohen, Yoeli’s Rebbe. That night, I called Rabbi Cohen, “Why did you send Yoeli home?” I asked directly. “He can’t sit still,” I was told. “He’s usually restless in the afternoon, but today he was especially unsettled.” “Strange, he ate a good lunch today. Was anything else wrong?” I asked. “Yes, “ the Rebbe told me. “He was fighting with the boys and disrespectful to me. He has a good head, but I can’t tolerate this behavior. The punishment of going home early should teach him a lesson.” I thanked Rabbi Cohen and hung up. I sat by the kitchen table and reflected what I heard. Suddenly alarm bells started

to clang. Fighting. He can’t sit still. Repeat occurrences. Volatile temper. These symptoms added up to something I couldn’t stomach – ADHD. But Rabbi Cohen said he had a good head. They didn’t start learning Gemara yet. That’s when the problems began! My adorable little Yoeli with ADHD – NO WAY!!!!!!!!!!! I possess an exaggerated sensitivity to this malady as our fifteen-year-old son, Efraim, suffered from this disorder. In his case, we only discovered it when he was eleven. When Efraim was a little boy, I was constantly interrupted from my household chores by his loud screaming and fistfights with his brothers. May be being a middle child nestled among four boys was the cause of the constant eruptions. But boys were wild, no? It was a fact, like snow was white. “He’ll outgrow it. It’s just a phase.” “You’ll see nachas (pride) yet”, were pieces of advice from well meaning relatives and friends. He grew up, but he didn’t straighten out. I had a sixth sense that all was not right with Efraim, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. As it was, my husband and I were embroiled in various issues concerning our older children. It took all my energy to get through the day. I couldn’t imagine dealing with a new problem. It will blow over; he’ll get older and the complications will be resolved. I couldn’t have deceived my-

self more if I tried! In seventh grade Efraim was constantly running away! He was eerily savvy and managed to travel to places like Ein Gedi, Haifa and Tzefas. When it occurred once too often, I was at my wits end. But then I came across an interesting article that spoke about a bachur (boy) w h o j u s t d i d n’ t fit into the system. He went from one yeshiva to the next, constantly failing. At nineteen years old, it was discovered that he was suffering from ADHD. Due to his age, it involved great efforts to set this bachur back on his feet. I never knew much about this disorder. Efraim’s symptoms were extremely similar to those mentioned in the article. I made a firm decision to concentrate on Efraim and take him to whoever could help him. His future was at stake! Efraim did have ADHD, but it was kind of late in the game to start treating it. Due to the years of neglect, he lost out on gaining knowledge, self-esteem and social skills. He tolerated the Ritalin for a year and then refused to take it. The school he was attend-

ing was unsuitable in every way. Unfortunately, he was home for a year and a half until we could find an appropriate Yeshiva. Thank G-d, he attends regularly, but

there are still loads of issues to iron out. Now, I might be facing the same problems with Yoeli. Help!!! I went to Yoeli’s bedroom and studied his sleeping form. He was clutching his favorite brown teddy bear. Yoeli’s face always reminded me of a strawberry; hence I nicknamed him the cutie tutie (tut is Hebrew for strawberry). The other day he chose ices in the flavor of tut banana because “I’m the cutie tutie” he finished with his trademark smile. The next day, I sat with Yoeli at the doctor’s office. My little boy tapped his fingers on the table and swished his head

To submit an article to the Family Forum, please e-mail: 38

September 2015

from side to side because “my hair bothers me” and the experienced doctor nodded his head as I rattled off the symptoms. “It’s probably ADHD,” he told us. “Go for the blood test, get the forms from the secretary for the neurologist and have much success.” Gee, thanks. With a firm grip on Yoeli’s hand, we made our way home. The verification of my fears felt like I was on line at the amusement park for the triple jump roller coaster. “Who are you kidding?” I told myself. “Out of eleven kids, it’s pretty likely that another one would have ADHD.” The next day, I kept far away from the phone and my diary. The forms stayed folded up in my purse. I busied myself with catching up on the laundry, shopping and cooking a nutritious supper. I did anything to avoid that subject. Before suppertime, I heard loud screaming from the living

room. Yoeli was standing near the broken fruit dish. “Did you do that?” I asked. “I didn’t! No, I didn’t do it! Stop shouting at me!” he screamed while kicking at the sofa. I’d better start filling out those forms. As I wrote in what age he began to crawl, walk and talk, I reflected on the situation. It really was a kindness that I found out about this at an early age. Yoeli’s Rebbe could have easily ignored his student’s restlessness and chalked it up to typical boys’ behavior. Hopefully, at this young age, it will be possible to monitor the medicine and therapies thereby giving Yoeli a chance to succeed in life. The position of Yoeli in the family was an additional kindness. Because he came after two girls and has a good, wellbehaved younger brother, I had an opportunity to observe Yoeli’s positive attributes of ADHD, such as creativity and

incredible imagination. If I had to have another kid with this disorder, I’m glad they were spaced far apart. My stage of life was suited for the future onslaught of doctor’s and therapist appointments. I didn’t have a nursing baby and my older kids could rustle up a simple meal and were definitely capable of putting themselves to sleep. I hated using Efraim as a guinea pig, but because of him, I was much more knowledgeable about this whole topic. I could almost see Yoeli’s brain working differently in various situations. In my diary were lists of therapists and neurologists and I knew what side effects to look for with the Ritalin. After all was said and done, I would have preferred Yoeli to be normal. This journey wasn’t going to be easy or fun. I had to constantly remind myself that this situation was G-d given and therefore, had to be

FORUM something good. Yoeli is coming into the kitchen now. I’m ambivalent about him. Why is it that two days ago, he was the cutest thing in the world and now he has a neon sign flashing on his head “I have problems”? I have to use the advice of my friend – don’t label a kid. First he’s your child. He just happens to have a disorder. I held out my arms to hug my cutie tutie.

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Products Showcase Overcoming Anxiety in Children and Teens


Author: Jed Baker, PHD Publisher: Future Horizons Inc. Arlington, Texas 1.800.489.0727, • Year: 2015

he greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one” (Elbert Hubbard, The Note Book, 1927). This quote captures an important theme Dr. Baker captures in his book. Worries, fears and anxieties are familiar to us all. Most of the time they are reasonable responses to the situation we are in. They prepare us for coping with stress by releasing the hormone adrenaline, which generates physical and mental changes that prepare us to take on a challenge. This book is for everyone and can help everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a parent, educator, clinician, client or friend. You can find strategies to help a child, teen and even adult who is trying to overcome anxiety. The book was full of examples and case studies making it more reality based. The Fear Ladder, Visual Schedules and sample relaxation scripts can be used for everyone and was presented in a simple and non-threatening way which will make everyone more eager to try it to help themselves or someone they love. There is a stigma in anxiety which hinders a parent, family member or friend from getting help for their loved one. Dr. Baker assures there is no stigma in dealing with anxiety, but requires modifying your thoughts and strategies, and at times medication may be needed. Dr. Baker follows many Cognitive Behavioral approaches and teaches new methods and ways to change old thinking patterns and habits. He writes that the common ingredient in successful anxiety treatments is “gradual


September 2015

exposure,” that is, gradually facing feared situations until the fear subsides. For less verbal clients like those with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, motivation is very much about providing incentives or rewards for facing fears. Using rewards is not just for less verbal individuals, but also for many children as kids may need a more immediate and concrete reward to begin facing fearful situations. A major tool to lowering anxiety enough to face fears is learning to “Think Like a Scientist.” This cognitive behavioral strategy focuses on challenging two parts of most worries: overestimating how likely it is that the feared event will occur, and overestimating how bad it would really be if the feared event occurred. Each approach presented included a case study, a strategy and result. Keeping readers interested and able to complete the book understanding the philosophy of “putting one foot in front of the other and walking forward”. Everyone has worries. The amount of time and energy that you use to deal with the events indicates whether you have difficulty with the stressful situation. This can be a child fearing to go to school or an adult consumed with fear of work or dating. This book provides concrete examples and proven methodologies to help reduce these stressors to more manageable levels. Suri Greenberg and her family are avid readers. Suri has been working with the special needs population for over 20 years. She can be reached at

Products Showcase


Grampa’s Garden

rampa’s Garden’s all-natural handcrafted therapy and comfort products help relax, balance, and rejuvenate the body, mind, and soul. Grampa’s therapeutic Hot and Cold packs are a natural remedy for joint aches and muscle pain relief for children and adults, including sore joints and inflammation. Aromatherapy combined with cold or heat is a natural treatment for headaches, stomach aches, leg pain, and earaches in children. Cold packs reduce muscle and joint inflammation and swelling in the foot, knee, ankle, hands, and wrists. A heatable Grampa’s Garden product around your shoulders on a chilly winter day will treat you to comforting, therapeutic warmth. Grampa’s Garden’s weighted animal wraps, blankets and

lap pads help with sensory integration, often combining, warmth, weight and aromatherapy. The products are easy to clean, have pleasant designs, and often come in multiple weights to fit anyone’s needs. Buy a new friend! The heating packs come in adorable animal shapes like Bunny Wrap, Warm-Me-Turtle, Hot Lobsta, and Moose Masseuse, making them ideal for children.

For more information or to purchase, visit www.grampa’ or call: 877.373.4328 for a free catalog.

September 2015


BULLETIN BOARD Compiled By Hinda Klass


Yachad Gifts Opens First Retail Store

randon Levine, a Yachad Gifts trainee, stands before a table lined with wicker baskets. Brandon sticks a glue dot on the back of a coffee packet and attaches it to a cookie box, sitting among the other treats he has already placed. “I enjoy this work,” says Brandon, 24. “I’m gaining skills. I’m an adult and this gives me practice. Practice makes perfect!” For Brandon, who has a developmental disability, jobs are hard to come by. Although he currently volunteers at Parkville Food Center, he’s never had a paid job. “For all the gains Yachad has made in educating the community to the fact that everyone needs and deserves to feel they belong, when it comes to employment we... have made little progress,” says Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, international director of Yachad, the flagship program of the Orthodox Union’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities. “People would sooner write a check than give individuals a chance at a job.” Yachad launched Yachad Gifts in 2013. The premise was simple: artisan gift baskets prepared by individuals with disabilities. Most of the workers are


September 2015

part of Yachad’s vocational program. Yachad Gifts currently has nine paid workers, four of whom are Yachad members, and 20 volunteers with disabilities. As sales increased, Yachad Gifts outgrew its Coney Island office and moved to a new one, with more room to produce, store, showcase and sell their wares. Creating Jobs – Building People “ is the perfect way for us to accomplish multiple goals,” explains Allen Fagin, the OU’s executive VP and chief professional officer. “It provides meaningful jobs and vocational training to a number of our Yachad participants,...and a wonderful opportunity to support Yachad’s activities and its overarching goal of successful Inclusion.” To date Yachad Gifts has sold approximately 7,000 baskets. As it grows, so does its hiring potential, allowing more individuals with disabilities the chance for employment. Each workday, Suri Baum, the YachadGifts. com job coach, helps each worker get started. “It’s a good feeling to teach them something new,” she says. “I can see a change in their skill level. They get

to a point where they can independently make the packages.” Yachad Gifts offers an opportunity to develop skills that can be used in other work environments. They participate in taking orders, shopping for baskets, filling them, taking inventory, restocking shelves and keeping the store clean. Talia Forman takes photos to be displayed online and in promotional material. Moishe Hammer delivers baskets to customers. Chaim Goldman, travels with a Yachad Gifts staff member to boutiques and supermarkets, encouraging them to display the Yachad-manufac tured products. Dr. Lichtman explains that having a job is a psychological necessity. “If a person, no matter his or her disability, is not contributing, it creates a sense of frustration and undermines self-esteem,” he says. Chaim concurs. “If I didn’t have a job, I’d be stressed out. I enjoy meeting new people, talking with the customers. I’m positive and polite; I say, ‘excuse me; would you like to take a look at the gift baskets?’ They hired me because I’m the best salesman.”

When an individual with disabilities feels that he plays a role in the working world, it creates a positive effect on his family. “Chaim has a job and earns a salary,“ says his mother. “It gives him a sense of normalcy in the otherwise challenged world he lives in.” “We are a richer community if we allow ourselves to benefit from the many ways in which people with special needs can contribute,” says Dr. Lichtman. “If we don’t, it’s a waste of valuable resources. People with disabilities are a resource. We have to open opportunities for them, even if that means creating opportunities.” To place an order, visit or call toll-free: 855.505.7500. You can also visit the Yachad Gifts retail store at 1090 Coney Island Avenue (fourth floor) Brooklyn, NY, 11230 (between Avenue H and Foster Avenue). Open Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. to 5p.m. and Fridays 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.


SA is pleased to announce that Betty Aboff will be joining our staff as a Speech-Language Pathologist. Betty comes to MKSA with 25 years of experience in evaluating and servicing children ages birth to five with a range of speech-language delays. In addition to her clinical services, Betty has also supervised clinical fellows as well as graduate and undergraduate students. Children, parents and colleagues have benefited from her expertise, creativity, energy and enthusiasm, and describe Betty as “an excellent speech therapist, highly respected in the field, who puts

Welcome Betty

110% into everything she does; she is dedicated, loyal and always willing to help others.” Betty is very involved with Young Israel of West Hempstead and is involved in various Sisterhood committees which awarded her the Aishet Chayil Award. She also has served on many committees at the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County. Betty is excited to be joining the MKSA staff and will be spearheading speech supervision in Queens and Brooklyn. Join us in welcoming Betty to our team! MKSA (a HASC subsidiary) provides a full range of early childhood and

school age services. Early intervention evaluation, educational, therapeutic and support services are available for eligible children and their families throughout Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Manhattan. Preschool services are available in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and are jointly provided by MKSA and our parent company, HASC. MKSA also provides school age services in many districts throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties. Private pay services are available as well. MKSA’s staff and providers have more than 17 years of experience working with

children with developmental delays and their families. As one of the largest agencies in the area, MKSA provides a high level of quality services, using caring dedicated professionals. We support each child’s developmental potential by providing individualized programs tailored to each child’s specific needs. Our goal is to provide prompt, accurate evaluations, effective treatment for children’s developmental and educational concerns, and support for the entire family. For more information about MKSA, call 516.731.5588 or visit www. (new website coming soon!)

Creative Arts Playgroup for Kids with Special Need


lay Me a Story, the interactive musical storytelling performance and workshop program for children, is offering a highly experiential and purposeful creative arts playgroup focused on social skills, independence and intellectual and physical development for students ages 3-6 of all abilities. Children are invited to explore storytelling, dramatic expression, dance, music and visual arts as well as gardening, interactive games, cooking and other multi-sensory social

activities in a joyful and supportive atmosphere. The program is led by Maya Blank, a seasoned special education teacher and artist. Maya recently received the Jewish Education Project Young Pioneers Award 2015 for her work in the area of Disabilities Inclusion. She holds a Master’s degree in Special Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College. Maya spearheaded innovative programs for children with autism, behavioral disorders, learning disabilities and other

challenges. She also served as a supervisor and consultant for a number of special education centers. In addition, she delivers dynamic presentations for educators on the use of storytelling and other creative arts in working with children of varying needs. Maya is the artistic director of Play Me a Story, an interactive musical storytelling performance and workshop program for children. The playgroup meeting space is conveniently located by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the

Brooklyn Museum and a number of parks, which will be enjoyed as part of the learning. The Fall 2015 session will run for 11 weeks on Thursdays at 4:00pm5:30pm from October 1 through December 17. The cost for the 11-week fall program is $500 (the first class is free). This includes all food and art supplies provided during classes. Please contact Maya for more information at or 917.886.3530.

September 2015


Ask the Expert


By Juby Shapiro

Help!!! I made the wrong decision and now my child is suffering.... My daughter who is mildly on the autistic spectrum recently turned 5 and aged out of the CPSE. In preschool, her IEP provided her with 15 hours of SEIT services, speech 4x30 minute sessions per week and occupational therapy 2x45 minute sessions per week, 12 months a year. The CSE had a meeting last spring and without even evaluating my child, they created an IESP instead of an IEP and changed her mandate to 5 periods per week SETSS- Special Education Teacher Support Services. The CSE also reduced her speech from 4x30 to 3x30 and changed her occupational therapy from 2x45 to 2x30. They also offered services 10 months a year and not 12 months. I told the CSE that I disagreed with their recommendation. My child’s SEIT and classroom teacher were not included at the meeting. My child was not even observed in school. The CSE “team” was just myself, a psychologist and a special education teacher. They had never met my child and were not familiar with her needs. When I told the team that going from 15 hours of SEIT to 5 periods of SETSS was not appropriate, they told me that this was the 46

September 2015

maximum they could offer. They also refused to include ABA or sensory goals and told me they “don’t do methodology”. They gave me a form to sign and told me I had to sign otherwise when my child aged out she would have no services. I left the meeting confused and upset. Since school began I see my daughter is having a very difficult time without ABA. Her behavior has been getting worse and the teacher is complaining that she can be disruptive to other students. Without ABA or a behavior plan in place, she is very disregulated and it is affecting her learning and classroom participation. I contacted the CSE but was told to “give it more time” and that I can always ask for a reconvene but that could take a few months to schedule. At this rate, I am concerned that in a few months, my daughter will not be able to remain in a general education setting. What are my rights as far as getting my child the services she needs? I feel somehow I was fooled into signing this paper even though the CSE was aware that I disagreed with their recommendation. Help!!!

It appears your child’s IEP/ IESP meeting was not legally constituted and that the team lacked sufficient information to offer your child an appropriate special education. It would also appear that the recommendations were not reasonably calculated to address your child’s academic, social and emotional needs. Also, when you told the team you disagreed, they should have given consideration to your concerns regarding their proposed IESP. By law, Parents are mandated members of an IEP team and should be meaningful participants in the process. Additionally, in the future if you disagree with the CSE’s recommendation for your child, you do not have to sign and accept their services. Parents have rights to request an Impartial Hearing or mediation to settle disputes with the CSE. Parents also have the right to request evaluations and that the CSE reconvene. In your situation, my recommendation is to request a pendency hearing immediately. Pendency is a “stay put” provision in the law that allows your child to receive her last agreed upon IEP in the interim during the dispute, pending the results of an Impartial Hearing and also during any appeals process. It is recommended to seek help form an advocate or attorney familiar with pendency cases. You can include in your hearing request a request that the Impartial Hearing Officer order new testing and evaluations. You can also ask for an increase if needed. That would be

part of the relief you are seeking at the end of the case in a Findings of Fact Decision. Pendency is retroactive to the date the hearing request is filed. That means that once your child’s hearing request is filed, your child may begin to receive the services on the previous, last agreed upon IEP. Even if it takes several weeks to schedule a pendency hearing and for an Order on Pendency to be issued, the providers will be back paid once there is an order. In your daughter’s case, her pendency IEP is her preschool IEP which recommends 15 hours of SEIT, 4x30 speech and 2x45 occupational therapy. Sometimes the CSE argues that SEIT is a preschool service and that a school age student cannot receive SEIT services under pendency. This is incorrect. Pendency is the last agreed upon IEP or last Impartial Hearing Officer’s Decision or SRO-State Review Officer’s Decision or last unappealed decision from a higher court. Pendency can also be substantively similar services or placement such as enhanced rate SETSS at the SEIT rate for the same frequency and duration as the SEIT. Pendency is on the services and not the service provider so your child does not need to attend the same school and does not have to use the same SEIT provider or agency. When the Impartial Hearing Officer issues a pendency order, you will also receive RSAs- related service authorizations- for your child’s speech and occupational therapies. This way your child will not suffer as her services will be restored immediately.

Join Us for Our December 2015 Issue


Transitions and Decisions 4HYJO A Supplement of the


A Supplement of the

Living With Fragile X

Page 16

Page 28

Page 28

Page 30

Insight into Selective Mutism Page 38

Circle of Support

Becoming One Community Grandparent's View

Why Words Matter


Inclusion 1\UL

My Roller Coaster Life

Sensory First Page 32

:LW[LTILY A Supplement of the

For More Information Contact Moshe Klass at The Twin The Justice or Public School Prespective Center Alternative 718.330.1100x352 Page 16 Page 22 Page 12

Building Blocks Service Marketplace 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.


Weighted Comfort Solutions Shawls, Blankets, Lap pads and Whimsical Animal Wraps • 877.373.4328

Salt of the Earth Weighted Gear

Weighted Blankets, Weighted Vests & More A Little Pressure - Better Than Medicine! or call 402.366.5883 - Ask for Annie

Special Needs Products

Autism Pressure vest and weighted pressure vests. High Quality and Low Prices! • 779-400-6585


Otsar Family Services

2334 West 13th St., Bklyn., New York 11223 718-946-7301 x502 • Provides assistance with IEP meetings and impartial hearings in NYC.

Project Learn


formerly known as




...where every child shines!

a yeshiva servicing boys with social/ behavioral and learning challenges

w e provide:

¡ Small self-contained classes for children age 5-13

Certified special Special ed Education ¡¡ CertiďŹ ed teachersTeachers and Rebbeim and Rebbeim ¡¡ Intensive Intensive behavior behavior modiďŹ cation modification program program ¡ Schoolwide Social Thinking Program

Orton-Gillingham Reading Program ¡¡ Orton-Gillingham Reading Program ¡ Mainstreaming Opportunities unit i ies ¡ Mainstreaming Opportunities Now Accepting Applications for The 2015-2016 School Year. Individualized instruction the only school of its kind with a pre-a class to meet the needs of each student  Nostrand Avenue ¡ Brooklyn, NY ď™„ď™„ď™…ď™…ď™Œ .ď™Œď™ˆď™„.ď™†ď™‰ď™ˆď™ƒ



Assists in obtaining evaluation, tuition reimbursement and special education services Contact Mrs. Leah Steinberg 212-797-9000 ext 326/325

September 2015

718-252-2236 Tafkid assists families whose children have been diagnosed with a variety of disabilities and special needs.

Yachad - National Jewish Council for Disabilities

11 Broadway, 13th Floor, New York, NY 10004 212-613-8229 • Yachad is dedicated to addressing the needs of all individuals living with disabilities and ensuring their participation and inclusion in the full spectrum of Jewish life.


866-TOURO4U ¡ www.TOURO.EDU/shs Explore our professional programs in OT, Nursing, PT, PA, and Speech/Lanugage Pathology.


Assists in obtaining evaluation, tuition reimbursement and special education services Contact Mrs. Leah Steinberg 212-797-9000 ext 326/325


Brooklyn NY 11219 718.247.9903 • Bais Benyamin provides individualized curriculums based on the ABLLS-R and AFLS assessments. It introduces student to the workplace environment with an individualized work plan and a job coach. Behavioral methodology and other techniques will be used to teach independence in the workplace environment. Integrating with our community, Bais Benyamin will create a supporting environment and expand community involvement and awareness for individuals with ASD.

Challenge Early Intervention Center

Exec. Office: 649 39th Street Brooklyn, NY 11232 Queens Office: 72-38 Main Street Flushing, NY 11367 Staten Island Office: 1911 Richmond Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314 718-851-3300 • Home, Center & Community Based Early Intervention Evaluations / Services for eligible children at no cost to families. Initial & ongoing service coordination, Home/Center based ABA program for children diagnosed w/ Autism Spectrum Disorder. Provides many services, including OT and PT.

Hand in Hand Family Services

390 Kings Hwy, F11, Brooklyn, NY 11223 718-336-6073 • Hand in Hand offers a full range of personalized services and support to developmentally disabled children and adults and their families. Menucha Chesed Services 718.636.8242 (MENUCHA) Menucha Chesed Services is a non-profit organization offering a variety of programs for children with special needs and their families. They provide support groups, workshops, seminars and social networking events for parents and families as well as referrals and guide individuals in need of resources.

Building Blocks Service Marketplace NAPSEC National Association of Private Special Education Centers 600 Penn. Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20004 (204) 434-8225 • OHEL Bais Ezra 800-603-OHEL • From infants to seniors, from siblings to parents, OHEL Bais Ezra provides a lifetime of comprehensive person-centered services to those with intellectual disabilities OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services 4510 16th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11204 800-603-OHEL • From trauma services to advice for a child with ADHD, marital counseling to support to an individual with a developmental or psychiatric disability, access the full range of OHEL services.

Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices

4302 New Utrecht Ave. • Brooklyn NY 11219 718.686.9600 • SKHOV is a school and center for children that has many diverse programs to help children with developmental delays, autism and other disabilities.

United Cerebral Palsy of New York City

80 Maiden Lane, 8th Floor, NY, NY 10038 877-827-2666 or 212-683-6700 A leading non-profit provider of direct services, technology, and advocacy to children and adults with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. More than 75 comprehensive programs including medical, clinical, educational, technological, residential, and habilitative services to over 14,000 individuals and families annually. Their mission is to create opportunities for people with disabilities to lead independent and fulfilling lives. Yachad - National Jewish Council for Disabilities 11 Broadway, 13th Floor, NY, NY 10004 212-613-8229 • Yachad is dedicated to addressing the needs of all individuals living with disabilities and ensuring their participation and inclusion in the full spectrum of Jewish life. Yad Hachazaka 646.723.3955 · • Guidance and Mentoring • Resource Information • Advocacy

EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAM Challenge Early Intervention Center Exec. Office: 649 39th St, Brooklyn, NY 11232

Queens Office: 72-38 Main St, Flushing, NY 11367 Staten Island Office: 1911 Richmond Ave, Staten Island, NY 10314 718-851-3300 • Challenge provides home/community & center based developmental evaluations & Early Intervention services for infants and toddlers under the age of 3 who have or are suspected of having a developmental delay and/or disability. Challenge has been a provider of the highest quality EI and ABA services for over 25 years. All services are provided at NO OUT OF POCKET COST to parents. Hamaspik 718-408-5400 • From the 5 towns to the 4 corners, Hamaspik services the entire Jewish population in 15 counties throughout NY State. We have offices conveniently located in Borough Park, Williamsburg, Monsey, and Monroe. HTA of New York 4222 Avenue P, Brooklyn, NY 11234 718.564.6128 • Provides evaluations, service coordination and service delivery through the Early Intervention Program (EIP) for children under the age of three who are either suspected of having or at risk for developmental delays or disabilities. All EIP services provided at no cost to families. Jumpstart Early Intervention 3914 15th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11218 718-853-9700 • Provides Early Intervention evaluations and therapy services for children birth to three years old, experiencing mild to severe developmental delays, speech and language impairment, ADD/ADHD, hearing impairment, multiply handicapped etc. MKSA LLC 125 E. Bethpage Road, Suite 5 Plainview, NY 11803 516.731.5588 • MKSA LLC (a HASC subsidiary) provides a full range of early intervention evaluation, educational, therapeutic and support services for eligible children and their families throughout Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn. The staff and providers (formerly of Marion K. Salomon & Associates) have more than 17 years of experience working with children with developmental delays and their families. As one of the largest agencies in the area, MKSA provides a high level of quality services, using caring dedicated professionals. We welcome contact from experienced early intervention professionals interested in joining our team (send resumes to:!

YOUR CHILD is struggling in school. YOU want him to be included. WE PLAN FOR IT – not only for today, but for his future.

INCLUSION by DESIGN ™ Only at 888-993-1552

Special education uniquely integrated within Jewish Day Schools • Individualization • Educational excellence • Meeting each child’s educational, social, and emotional needs Elementary Schools • High School • Adult Day Habilitation



Building Blocks Service Marketplace Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices

4302 New Utrecht Ave Brooklyn NY 11219 718-686-9600 •


Bais Benyamin Brooklyn NY 11219 718.247.9903 • Bais Benyamin provides individualized curriculums based on the ABLLS-R and AFLS assessments. It introduces student to the workplace environment with an individualized work plan and a job coach. Behavioral methodology and other techniques will be used to teach independence in the workplace environment. Integrating with our community, Bais Benyamin will create a supporting environment and expand community involvement and awareness for individuals with ASD.


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

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: 50

September 2015

Creative Business Resources 1556 38th St, Brooklyn, NY 11218 718-853-0900 • Provides pre-employment classes, job development and training and ongoing coaching for individuals with learning or developmental disabilities. OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services 4510 16th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11204 800-603-OHEL • From trauma services to advice for a child with ADHD, marital counseling to support to an individual with a developmental or psychiatric disability, access the full range of OHEL services. Shema Kolainu 4302 New Utrecht Ave. · Brooklyn, NY 11219 718.686.9600 · SKHOV is a school and center for children that has many diverse programs to help children with developmental delays, autism and other disabilities.

EVENTS Abilities Expo Provides demonstrations and information pertaining to physical handicaps, including the latest products and assistance animals. Events throughout the US. GF & AF Expo The Biggest Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Event in the U.S. For tickets and locations, visit

Profectum New York Conference Capturing the Power and Potential of Play, Movement and Creativity October 18th 2015 Register at: calendar/5th-annual-new-york-conference/ Special Needs Expo 516-279-3727 · Discover special needs resources for children and adults. Meet a large variety of product and service providers, attend seminars and demonstrations. Young Child Expo & Conference Providing useful information to professionals and parents in order to help all young children learn, grow and reach their full potential. Our conference brings over 1000 people together across all kinds of programs, and disciplines. In one unique event, this conference integrates learning about typically developing children as well as those with special needs, including autism.


HamaspikCare 855-HAMASPIK (426-2774) From the 5 towns to the 4 corners, Hamaspik services the entire Jewish population in 15 counties throughout NY State. We have offices conveniently located in Borough Park, Williamsburg, Monsey, and Monroe.


Hamaspik 718-408-5400 • From the 5 towns to the 4 corners, Hamaspik services the entire Jewish population in 15 counties throughout NY State. We have offices conveniently located in Borough Park, Williamsburg, Monsey, and Monroe. Hand in Hand Family Services 390 Kings Hwy, F11, Brooklyn, NY 11223 718-336-6073 • Hand in Hand offers a full range of personalized services and support to developmentally disabled children and adults and their families. HASC Center 1221 East 14th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11230 718-535-1953 · Providing Service coordination, after-school

Building Service Marketplace Blocks children’s respite, Sunday autism program for children, individualized at-home habilitation, summer camp-after-camp for girls, 24/7 respite for children, residential homes, Yeshiva day habilitation, Bnos day habilitation, vocational placement program, supported employment, Blanche Kahn Medical Center. HASC School Age Program 6220 14th Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11230 718-331-1624 • No-fee after school program 4 days a week for male & female ages 5-21, mixed groups, handicap accessible, transportation provided, Kosher food provided, take children not toilet trained. The Jewish Board/Mishkon 1358 56th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11219 718-851-7100, 718-854-0454 - The Jewish Board/Mishkon offers residential programs in Brooklyn including Boro Park, Midwood, Mill Basin and the Crown Heights area. We offer community habilitation, medicaid service coordination, respite and a very generous camp scholarship program. OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services 4510 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11204 800-603-OHEL, From trauma services to advice for a child with ADHD, marital counseling to support to an individual with a developmental or psychiatric disability, access the full range of OHEL services. Otsar Family Services 2334 West 13th St, Bklyn, New York 11223 718-946-7301 • A MW providing that offers parent support groups, respite, overnight respite, Sunday program and dayhab, ages 5- Adult. Women’s League Community Residences, Inc. 1556 38th St, Brooklyn, NY 11218 718-853-0900 • Provides Medicaid Waiver, Community Habilitation & Respite for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities living in the community. Yachad - National Jewish Council for Disabilities 11 Broadway, 13th Floor, New York, NY 10004 212-613-8229 • Yachad is dedicated to addressing the needs of all individuals living with disabilities and ensuring their participation and inclusion in the full spectrum of Jewish life.


Beineinu-Connecting Parents of Children with Special Needs 48 West Maple Avenue Monsey, New York 10952 347-743-4900 • Parent Matching, Internet research for medical information for internet-free families, Translation of medical information into Hebrew, Zichron Yehuda Equipment Exchange, Growing International database of Resources, Information of Interest to those dealing with various special needs, Library of Chizuk and Inspirational articles, pictures and videos.

PRODUCTS Allie’s Gluten Free Goodies 1B West Village Green · Hicksville, NY 11801 516-216-1719 Full service bakery that caters to your food allergies. Calming Clipper • 877-432-1508 The Haircutting Kit for sensory-sensitive kids

Services for Young Children with Autism and Disabilities • Home Based Services • Center Based Services • ABA Program • Service Coordination • Services: Speech, OT, PT, SW, Special Education, Psychology • Career Opportunities To learn more go to For our conferences go to

ComfyLiftBeds 361-767-1888 · Provides positional therapy since 2004. Helps provide relief to individuals with special needs Currently accepting Medicaid and private insurance. Hatchbacks Footwear 70 SW Century Drive Ste. 100-234 Bend, OR 97701 800.936.0511 • Mobility Lifter 615-530-1374 · Outdoor-indoor portable stair climber. No home modifications needed. Pocket Full of Therapy 732-462-4474 • 1-800-PFOT-124 “Affordable Prices - Amazing Customer Service!” Specializing in Sensory, Therapeutic & Educational Materials that are Fun & Motivating, while still addressing foundational skills. Owned & operated by Pediatric OT’s. An OT is ALWAYS available to answer questions or help select the “Just Right” item to meet YOUR child’s needs. Fidgets, Wiggle Seat Cushions, Scrub Brushes, Chewy’s, Whistles & more! Sleep Safe Beds 866-852-2337 September 2015


Building Blocks Service Marketplace Speech Pathology Associates, LLC 207-741-2443 • Therapro 225 Arlington Street Framingham, MA 01702 800-257-5376 • Large online store with thousands of items for parents and therapists. (Personal favorite of Building Blocks Magazine staff – Ed) Zahler’s KidsActive A kosher, natural alternative to ADHD medications. 877-ASK-ZAHLER


Gesher Yehuda 49 Avenue T, Brooklyn, NY 11223 718.714.7400 •

HASC School Age Program 6220 14th Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11230 718-331-1624 School for ages 5-21.Serving those with moderate to severe developmental delays, Autism/PDD, multiply handicapped. Provides ABA, Carbone, OT, PT, Speech, Counseling, Vision, Hearing, Medically Frail, Nurse State Approved, After School Program, Kosher Breakfast and Lunch, Transportation provided through the Board of Education Kew Gardens SEP 159-16 Union Tpk, Fresh Meadows, NY 11366 718-263-KIDS (5437) Serves ages 3-5 (CPSE). Provides OT, PT, Special Ed, SLP, SEIT & Counseling. Assists with all steps of the process. Ohr Dovid (formerly known as Haor the Beacon School) 2884 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11229 718-951-3650 A Yeshiva servicing boys with social, behavioral and learning challenges. Ages 5-13. Small self-contained classrooms, intensive behavior modification, Orton Gillingham reading program. Ohr HaLimud The Multi-Sensory Learning Center 1681 42nd Street, Brooklyn, NY 11204 718-972-0170 · A complete transitional Bais Yaakov, uniform wearing school for girls ages 6-14 struggling with dyslexia, language processing and reading delay, utilizing the scientif­ically based OrtonGillingham approach to teach all subjects with emphasis on reading, writing, and spelling in 52 September 2015

both English and Hebrew. Otsar Family Services 2334 West 13th St, Brooklyn, NY 11223 718-946-1413 · Providing Speech Therapy, OT, PT, Counseling & Special Ed Ptach Elementary and High School Programs (part of full mainstream schools) 1689 East 5th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11230 718-854-8600 • Center-based programs for students with language, learning, or attention deficits. Fully integrated mainstream programs. Shema Kolainu 4302 New Utrecht Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11219 718.686.9600 · SKHOV is a school and center for children that has many diverse programs to help children with developmental delays, autism and other disabilities. Sinai Schools 1485 Teaneck Rd, Teaneck, NJ 888-993-1552 • Various schools in New Jersey which provide special education integrated within Jewish day schools in the Greater Metropolitan area. Serving individuals with mild to severe developmental delays, ADD, ADHD and other challenges and delays. S.T.E.P. 2555 Nostrand Ave., Brooklyn, NY 111210 718-252-8822 • School for boys and girls with special needs, separate classes. Ages 5-21. In operation Since 1996. Transportation provided by the Board of Education. All DOE mandated services, including aquatic therapy, and transportation provided. 10 & 12 month programs. YESS! - Yeshiva Education for Special Children 147-37 70th Road, Flushing, NY 11367 718-268-5976 · Say YESS! to children with: learning disabilities, auditory/visual processing difficulties, language delays, attention issues/ADD


Bais Benyamin Brooklyn NY 11219 718.247.9903 • See listing in other category for more information.

Camp Migdal, a program of Menucha Chesed Services 1274 49th Street, Suite 5900 Brooklyn, NY 11219 718.313.0264 • A non-profit organization providing a variety of programs for families of children with special needs. Summer program, Camp Migdal, provides 7 weeks of fun & therapy in the beautiful Catskill mountains. They service individuals with moderate to severe developmental disabilities, ranging in ages 5 & up girls and 5 to 9 boys. HASC Center 1221 East 14th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11230 718-535-1953 · Otsar Family Services 2334 West 13th St., Brooklyn NY 11223 718-946-7301 • Camp is a 10-day program at the end of the summer MDC last 2 weeks of August. Shema Kolainu 4302 New Utrecht Ave. · Brooklyn, NY 11219 718.686.9600 · So S.M.A.R.T 4202 Avenue U, Brooklyn, NY 646-725-1119 · 917-359-2279 www, Socialization martial arts therapy. Specializing in sensory sensitivities as autism and ADHD. Sunday classes available. Yachad - National Jewish Council for Disabilities 11 Broadway, 13th Floor, NY, NY 10004 212-613-8229 • Yachad is dedicated to addressing the needs of all individuals living with disabilities and ensuring their participation and inclusion in the full spectrum of Jewish life.


SSUPPORT GROUPS Bais Benyamin Brooklyn NY 11219 718.247.9903 • See listing in other categories for more information

Hand in Hand Family Services 390 Kings Hwy, F11, Brooklyn, NY 11223 718.336.6073 • Hand in Hand offers a full range of personalized services and support to developmentally disabled children and adults and their families.

Building Blocks Service Marketplace OHEL Sibshops 718-686-3491 • Lively and fun groups for fun support and inspiration for siblings of individuals with developmental disabilities. Separate groups for girls and boys ages 7-15. Day trips. Recreation based support group, meets monthly. Located in Boro Park, Flatbush, Five Towns, Far Rockaway and Staten Island. Shema Kolainu 4302 New Utrecht Ave. · Brooklyn, NY 11219 718.686.9600 ·

THERAPY & EVALUATION CENTER Applied Behavioral Mental Health Counseling, P.C. 1575 50th St. suite 11, Brooklyn, NY 11219 718-360-9548 • Assessment and Home Based Behavioral Therapy for students on the spectrum Hamaspik 718-408-5400 • From the 5 towns to the 4 corners, Hamaspik

services the entire Jewish population in 15 counties throughout NY State. We have offices conveniently located in Borough Park, Williamsburg, Monsey, and Monroe. Hand in Hand Family Services 390 Kings Hwy, F11, Brooklyn, NY 11223 718-336-6073 • Hand in Hand offers a full range of personalized services and support to developmentally disabled children and adults and their families. HASC Center 1221 East 14th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11230 718-535-1953 · Providing Service coordination, after-school children’s respite, Sunday autism program for children, individualized at-home habilitation, summer camp-after-camp for girls, 24/7 respite for children, residential homes, Yeshiva day habilitation, Bnos day habilitation, vocational placement program, supported employment, Blanche Kahn Medical Center. MKSA LLC 125 E. Bethpage Road, Suite 5 Plainview, NY 11803 516.731.5588 • MKSA LLC (a HASC subsidiary) provides

a full range of early intervention evaluation, educational, therapeutic and support services for eligible children and their families throughout Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn. The staff and providers (formerly of Marion K. Salomon & Associates) have more than 17 years of experience working with children with developmental delays and their families. As one of the largest agencies in the area, MKSA provides a high level of quality services, using caring dedicated professionals. We welcome contact from experienced early intervention professionals interested in joining our team (send resumes to:! OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services See other listing Shema Kolainu 4302 New Utrecht Ave. · Brooklyn, NY 11219 718.686.9600 · Sensory Gym 3514 Avenue S, Brooklyn, NY 718-336-3832

Resources & Information On The Web The Internet is a vast reservoir of information. Below is just a sampling of the web sites offering useful information and resources on all aspects of Special Needs, as well as detailed information on specific disorders and disabilities. However, be aware that there is no assurance that the information found on a particular web site is accurate or up to date. Therefore, it is important to check with your physician or other authoritative source that you trust before acting on any specific medical or treatment information you may find on the Internet.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Address: 1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30333, U.S.A Phone: (800) CDC-INFO (232-4636) Developmental Disabilities Home Page Website:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke National Institutes of Health Address: P.O. Box 5801 Bethesda, Maryland 20824 Phone: (800) 352-9424 or (301) 496-5751 Website:

Learning Disabilities: All Kinds of Minds Address: 2800 Meridian Parkway, Suite 100, Durham, NC 27713 Phone: (888) 956-4637 Website: IDEA Infant and Toddler Coordinators Association Address: 6129 Calico Pool Lane Burke, VA 22015 Phone: (703) 850-1187 Website:

A guide to Early Intervention resources

Learning Disabilities Association of America Address: 4156 Library Road Pittsburgh, PA 15234-1349

Phone: (412) 341-1515 Website:

Hearing and Vision Disabilities: Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Address: 3417 Volta Place NW, Washington, DC 20007 Phone: (202) 337-5220 TTY: (202) 337-5221 Website: American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Address: 1660 L Street, NW, Ste.513 Washington, DC 20036 Phone: (202) 822-0830 (office/TDD) Website: September 2015


CALENDAR OF EVENTS Please note: Ohel Sibshops are scheduled on a month-tomonth basis. For more information contact Chayale at 718-686-3491

OCTOBER 2015 IEP vs. 504: Which One Is Right For My Child?


Where: South Norwalk Branch Library 10 Washington Street, South Norwalk, Connecticut More Info: 203.899.2790 • 6:00-8:00 pm

Where: Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College 899 Tenth Avenue, New York, New York

More Info: 973.531.4376 •

Gluten Free & Allergen Free Expo More Info: Where: Secaucus, New Jersey

The biggest gluten free and allergen free event in the USA. Come to learn and see gluten free and allergen free products.


4 Celebrate Sukkot with Legos in the Sukkah Where: JCC of Central NJ

1391 Martine Avenue, Scotch Plains, New Jersey

More Info: 973.929.3129 • 2:00-3:30 pm

Join Greater MetroWest ABLE and Brainy Robots as we celebrate Sukkot together, shaking the lulav, creating with Legos in our sukkah, and enjoying a special Sukkot snack. This program is designed for children with special needs, their siblings and parents. Registration requested.

Where: Rutgers University Livingston Campus Student

Center, 84 Joyce Kilmer Avenue, Piscataway, New Jersey More Info: 8:00 am-4:00 pm

Annual conference for parents, professionals, and individuals with learning disorders. Professional development hours available.

Museum Access Family Workshop 11 Jewish Where: The Jewish Museum 1109 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York

More Info: 212.423.3289 • 10:30am-12:30 pm • Ages 5-17 2:00-4:00 pm • Ages 18 & up

Explore the galleries, experiment with materials, and create art in these workshops for children and adults who have developmental or learning disabilities. Workshops are organized by age group, and require advanced registration.


Dyslexia—Making It Personal Where: Mid Island Y/JCC

45 Manetto Hill Road, Plainview, New York More Info: 516.802.0593 • 7:00-9:00 pm

Designed for teachers, administrators and parents, this interactive simulation gives you firsthand knowledge about the challenges and frustrations faced by people with this language-based learning difference. You’ll experience what dyslexia is like — and understand it like never before.

17- Gluten Free & Allergen Free Expo More Info: 18 Where: Dallas, Texas

The biggest gluten free and allergen free event in the USA. Come to learn and see gluten free and allergen free products.


September 2015



949 Clark Avenue West, Thornhill, Ontario 551.404.4447 8:00 am-4:00 pm

Yachad’s inclusion and special education conference featuring Rick Lavoie and others speaking on reducing stress and anxiety in the classroom. Registration requested.

More Info:

Explore new products and technology. Attend workshops and learn about services. Enjoy adaptive sports and dance. See assistance animals. Fun for the kids. Register online for priority access.

Dating and Marriage Skills Group 19 Where: Yachad/NJCD, 11 Broadway, NY, NY

More Info: 212.613.8325 •

A series of workshops for adults aged 21-34 with developmental disabilities who are interested in fostering meaningful and lasting relationships with the opposite gender. Weekly sessions include discussions, dinner, social opportunities, skill building, and much more. In-person interview required for new applicants.


Art In Sight

Where: Museum of Modern Art

11 West 53 Street, New York, New York More Info: 212.408.6347 • 2:00-4:00 pm

A monthly program for individuals who are blind or partially sighted. Each month, specially trained MoMa lecturers highlight specific themes, artists, or exhibitions through verbal description and touch. Wheelchairs, portable stools, FM headsets for sound enhancement, and large print and Braille information brochures area available. Registration requested. This month’s highlight is Joaquin Torres- Garcia: The Arcadian Modern

Mutism: Helping Reluctant & 25 Selective Reticent Speakers

Where: Brooklyn, NY More Info:

A workshop featuring Dr. Steve Kurtz for mental health and associated professionals, Educators, Speech therapists, and parents. The primary focus will be on the behavioral treatment paradigm developed by Dr.

Joint Attention In Young Children

With ASD Challenge Early Intervention Center Where: 649 39th Street, Brooklyn, New York More Info: 718.851.3300 ext 157 Angela 5:15-9:00 pm

More Info:

Conference featuring the top researchers and specialists in Gaucher disease to discuss the latest news and progress as it relates to all types of Gaucher disease. Topics of discussion will include drug therapy news, bone disease, Parkinson’s disease, Type 1, 2 and 3 research and developments, social and psychological issues and other areas of interest. Limited scholarships available. The conference will be videoed and streamed live so those unable to attend will have the opportunity to watch the conference live and ask questions throughout the day and a half conference. The Conference, in its entirety will be posted on the NGF’s website at

Hall C, 415 Summer Street, Boston, Massachusetts More Info:

See October 19th

Turning Mirrors Into Windows 27 Where: Aish Hatorah—3rd Floor Jerusalem Hall

National Gaucher Conference

Boston Abilities Expo 1820 Where: Boston Convention and Exhibition Center

Dating and Marriage Skills Group

Challenge Early Intervention’s professional workshop led by Dana Battaglia and Mary McDonald. Transportation available. Light supper served. Registration requested. .3ASHA CEUs, 3.5 type 2 BCBA, BCABC CEUs.

A special program for individuals with learning or developmental disabilities and their families. Each month the focus is on a different theme, exploring various works in the museum’s galleries, and making art in the classroom. Reservation requested. This month’s theme is Art in 3-D: Sculpture Museum of Modern Art

Learning Disability Association – Navigating the Maze Conference


Create Ability

Where: Museum of Modern Art

4 West 54 Street, New York, New York More Info: 212.333.1265 • 11:00 am-1:00 pm ages 5-17 • 2:00-4:00 pm ages 18 and up

ARC National Convention

Where: Indianapolis, Indiana More Info:


capacity to advance development. Seeing the gleam in your child’s eye; having a back and forth conversation; playful interactions; playing to learn, and the joyful relationship that every child and parent need. No matter which intervention approaches you have underway for your child, developing a relationship is everyone’s goal and the DIR Model fits children of all ages and can support your goals. Registration requested. Parent scholarships available.


Connecting Parents of Children With Special Needs

Kurtz for working with youngsters in the school, community and clinical settings. The formal didactics will be supplemented by a heavy emphasis on behavioral rehearsal and performance feedback. Videos will also be included to model the techniques. Participants will be spending a considerable amount of time engaged in skills practice and Dr. Kurtz will be assisted in skills coaching by his associates. Educational credits available. Online registration requested. Profectum’s annual conference focuses on play, the most important

Gerri Fleming, Special Education Advocate, will offer an overview of educational planning for children with special needs, including the differences between Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Section 504 Plans. Illustrative case studies will help parents decide which option may be best for their children.


Capturing The Power and Potential of Play, Movement, and Creativity: The DIR Model Sets The Stage


Courtesy OF

Addressing Learning and Academic 27 Challenges: Practical Strategies for Improved Executive Functioning

Where: Baruch College Conference Center 55 Lexington Avenue (24th St.), New York, NY More Info: 877.338.6435 • 9:00 am-4:00 pm

What skills do children and teens need to learn in order to be organized and successfully manage their own time and tasks at home and in the classroom? Ohel’s multidisciplinary conference for professionals, family members and advocates featuring Sarah Ward, Developmental and Learning Difficulties Specialist and Co-Director, Cognitive Connections, Concord, MA will provide practical, hands-on approaches for helping youth, from preschool through high school, develop the skills they need to achieve success at school and home. ASHA hours available. Limited scholarship `assistance for family members. Registration requested.

28- Big Apple Circus Of The Senses 29 Where: Lincoln Center For The Performing Arts New York, New York

More Info: 646.616.6816 Relay & video chat available 11:00 am abridged show with no intermission—to accommodate schools and institutions (applications available online) 6:30 pm full length show with ASL interpreters and audio description provided. (only 10/28) Big Apple Circus has adapted their new show The Grand Tour for a unique performance which enables children and adults with vision or hearing impairments and other related disabilities to experience the magic and joy of the circus.



Where: Museum of Natural History More Info: 212.769.5567 • 2:30 pm

Visitors who are blind or partially sighted are invited to attend this program, held monthly in the American Museum of Natural History galleries. Specially trained Museum tour guides highlight specific themes and exhibition halls, engaging participants through extensive verbal descriptions and touchable objects. This month, explore the cultures of the Olmec, Aztec and Maya. Discover their beliefs, gods, and myths in the Hall of Mexico and Central America. Registration requested.


IDA Conference 2831 Where: Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center


Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas More Info:

IDA’s Annual International Conference is a development conference dedicated to reading, literacy and learning. The conference brings in experts from all over the world to educate attendees on the latest research, remediation, and more. The Reading, Literacy and Learning Conference includes both the Annual Conference for Professionals and Annual Conference for Families. The conference includes four general sessions with keynote speakers, full- and half-day symposia, more than 100 sessions, poster presentations and more on Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Response to Intervention, Literacy, Critical Reading, Vocabulary, Spelling, Language Disorders and much more Beyond the session room, this conference offers an incredible exhibit hall, school visits to area specialty schools, social events, networking opportunities, and more. Reservations requested.


Flushing, New York 8:30 am-4:30 pm

Challenge Early Intervention presents a professional course featuring Rona Alexander discussing pediatric feeding and swallowing—infants and young children with neuromuscular involvement. Course meets NYS DOH requirements for Early Childhood Training. .65 ASHA CEUs, 6.5 NBCOT PDUs, 6.5 NJBPTE CEUs, 7.8 NYPTA CEUs. Registration requested.


New York, New York

106 W. 117th Street • New York, New York

More Info: 800.922.3772 • 11:00 am

6:30 pm

Where: Holiday Inn Wolf Road

205 Wolf Road, Albany, New York

More Info: 718.567.7821 •

A convention for people who are blind, have a blind family member, or professionals dealing with the blind. Meet with government officials, attend seminars and workshops, and see exhibits of technology and products for the blind. Reservations requested. To connect with other frum families who are attending, contact

NOVEMBER 2015 2 8

Where: Westchester Marriott

670 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, New York 11:00 am-4:00 pm

Discover special needs resources for children and adults. Meet a large variety of product and service providers, attend seminars and demonstrations. Fun for the kids. Registration requested.



Clinical Guidelines: Autism 17 Where: Challenge Early Intervention Center

649 39 Street, Brooklyn, New York More Info: 718.851.3300 ext 155 Registration 9:00 am-12:30 pm

Free training session for parents and professionals sponsored by the NYC Early Intervention Program. Parents are welcome to attend and may apply to the EILN for a $25.00 stipend to be applied to childcare or transportation costs for the workshop. Professionals can count these training hours towards the 10 hours/year required by the NYS DOH for Early Childhood Training. Certificates of completion are distributed by EILN. CEUs for Professional Organizations such as ASHA, NYPTA, NBCOT can also be applied for upon course completion. Registration requested.


Create Ability See October 18th

This month’s theme is Camera Ready: Exploring Photography

See October 19th

More Info: 516.279.3727 •


Big Apple Circus has joined with ASD experts to adapt their all new show The Grand Tour for families with member on the spectrum to create a joyful experience for all. The adjusted show has shorter running time, adjusted lights and sound, calming centers, pictorial social narratives, and specially trained staff and volunteers on hand. All tickets 50% off. Call for tickets and information.

Dating and Marriage Skills Group Special Needs Expo Westchester

See October 19th

Where: Lincoln Center For The Performing Arts

Where: Gigi’s Playhouse

National Federation of the Blind Convention

Dating and Marriage Skills Group

17 Big Apple Circus Embraces Autism

More Info: 646.801.7529 •


Where: 169-07 Jewel Avenue

More Info: 718.851.3300 ext 157

Stages of Literacy

This workshop for those who work with children who have Down syndrome featuring Kirsten DeBear will illustrate some of the stages which children have to master on the road to literacy. We will explore: the importance of shared attention, the ability to understand language, the ability to attend to visual activities and interpret visual symbols, and the ability to visualize. Hands on activities will help us appreciate the many skills children have to master. RSVP online.

Pediatric Feeding And Swallowing


Dating and Marriage Skills Group


Dating and Marriage Skills Group

See October 19th

See October 19th


Dating and Marriage Skills Group See October 19th

Art In Sight

See October 21st

This month’s highlight is Photography


Clinical Guidelines: Hearing Impairment


Dating and Marriage Skills Group


See October 21st

Turning Mirrors Into Windows

Where: Manhattan Day School 310 W 75th Street, New York, New York More Info: 212.613.8127 • 8:00 am-4:30 pm

Yachad’s inclusion and special education conference. Keynote address by Dr. Edward Hollowell. Concentrations on limudei kodesh, classroom management, literacy, ADHD, and more. Registration requested.

See November 17th

See October 19th

Art In Sight

This month’s highlight is American Art

14 20

21 Dating and Marriage Skills Group See October 19th

Create Ability See October 18th

September 2015





Planning a Bar Mitzvah for My Special C hild



sitions EEDS MAGAZ Tran A SPECIAL N and Decisions

S MAGAZINE A SPECIAL NEED March 2015 A Supplement of the

My Roller Coaster Life Page 28

Why Words Matter Page 30

June 2014

Moment of Diagnosis Page 14

A Supplement of

My Life with Special Need s Page 18

Picture Perfect



September 2014 A Supplement

of the

Insight into Selective Mutism Page 38

tings: IEP Mee Interest, Best or Bureaucracy ? Battleground


December 2014 A Supplement of

munity Becoming One Com


Interview with Dr Temple Grandin Page 12

Parking Lot Vigilante Page 14

JetBlue Helps h Passengers wit Special Needs Page 16

g: Featurin Care alth ༇ He y Issues ilit Availab mystifying ༇ De sments re Asse cted Ca lf Dire ༇ Se Community ༇ tion Habilita


Back Issues Available Email: June 2015

A Supplement of the


Grandparent's View Page 16

Living With Fragile X Page 28

September 2015

Sensory First Page 32


A Division Of Women’s League Community Residences, Inc.

Seeking Special Instructors, PT, OT, and Speech Therapists to work with infants/toddlers in all Brooklyn neighborhoods. Bilingual a plus (Spanish, Creole,



Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, etc.)

Position also available for part time service coordinator. Jeanne Warman, Executive Director Phillip Lerner, Ph.D., Clinical Director Shoshana Gifter, MsEd., BCBA, ABA Program Coordinator


718-853-9700x 224

or fax resume 718-853-5 533

Women’s League Community Residences Inc. A tradition of caring, in our homes and yours…

Seeking enthusiastic DIRECT CARE COUNSELORS to make a difference in the lives of developmentally disabled individuals at our Brooklyn residences.

Various shifts available. Fax resume to (718) 853-0818 or

HASC subsidiary

Keeping children on track!

To advertise in this section of Building Blocks Magazine, please contact David at or 718.330.1100x372.

Positions available in early intervention: SLPs, OTs, PTs, Licensed Psychologists, Special Educators—ABA, Service Coordinators BILINGUAL A PLUS Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Brooklyn

Apply online at The Early Intervention program is funded by NYS & county governments for children birth-3 suspected of having a developmental disability or delay. Services are authorized by the county and provided at no direct cost to families for children who meet eligibility guidelines. September 2015


Special Needs Pacesetters

Betty Pollack - The Creative Spirit Behind Otsar

By Yaakov Kornreich


ust 35 years ago, Jewish parents who had a child with special needs felt very much isolated and alone. Many of them felt a very real social pressure in their community to hide the fact that they had such a child. Eventually, a nucleus of Jewish families with children with special needs came together to form a self-help support group to discuss their shared needs. To help raise community awareness, they founded Otsar in 1980, under the leadership of Rabbi Manfred Gans, of Congregation Machane Chodosh in Forest Hills, Queens. Otsar began by organizing and promoting public workshops to educate the community and inform parents about the programs and services available for children with special needs at the time. One of Otsar’s early parent activists was Mrs. Betty Pollack, whose daughter had been born with Cerebral Palsy. Betty was never willing to accept the bleak fate which an uncaring world assigned to her daughter. She and her late husband were convinced that through Otsar they could find a better way to deal with the challenges. Betty applied her particular knack for “thinking outside the box” to identifying the specific services and programs which Otsar could provide to help families to remain strong and intact, while helping each child to reach their full potential. One of the first requests by parents was for more programs and services for their children from within the Jewish community. Parents wanted more positive activities for their children after they returned home from their Special Education public school program. Otsar responded by launching a number of recreational afterschool, Sunday and mini-day camp pro-

grams. When a parent at a board meeting got up and talked about the lack of appropriate Jewish activities for their child, who was age 21, Otsar responded with the formation of a Young Adults group which ran a popular Motsoei Shabbos (Saturday night) program. To this day,

“Otsar’s board is composed of the parents and family members of children with special needs, and it is totally focused on the needs of the families…” Otsar’s board is composed of the parents and family members of children with special needs, and, as Betty says with great pride, Otsar remains totally focused on the needs of the families. Otsar initially ran its programs and services using community volunteers, but its board eventually decided that hiring professional staff would allow them to provide more services. This proved to be a wise decision as evidenced by Otsar’s growth over the years. Otsar’s main offices are located in Brooklyn, however, its programs serve families and children throughout the 5 boroughs of New York City. Otsar does not see itself as being in competition with other Jewish agencies. When other Jewish agencies emulate Otsar’s success by opening similar programs, Otsar is happy to see additional resources for the community. Betty Pollack says that “Hashem (God) has always been there for us, which is evident by the success that we have had.” Sometimes, Hashem’s guiding and help-

“When other Jewish agencies emulate Otsar’s success by opening similar programs, Otsar is happy to see additional resources for the community…” 58

September 2015

ing hand, helping Otsar to achieve its goals, has been clearly visible to her. For example, years ago, Otsar was looking to rent space in which to run a Sunday program for Jewish kids in public schools, when a car broke down in front of Betty’s house, and the driver had to ring the

doorbell seeking help. In the course of conversation it came out that he knew of a synagogue that would be perfect for the Sunday program. Otsar needed to come up with $65,000 to renovate the space in the synagogue, but did not have the money. However, at just the right time, an outside donor suddenly appeared. The benefactor had originally intended to give a sizable donation to plant trees in Israel, but was persuaded by his accountant to donate the money instead for the benefit of children. Otsar was one of the organizations chosen, and the portion that was allocated to Otsar “just happened to be” $65,000, the exact amount that was needed. After three decades of accomplishment, Betty continues to serve as Otsar’s guiding spirit and Executive Director. Once a parent comes into contact with Betty, seeking help or information, they soon realize that they have been automatically inducted into her extended family. Betty is constantly looking for new opportunities for Otsar to meet the unfilled needs of our children and families. Betty recently took time out to celebrate a surprise 80th birthday party thrown by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She is still looking forward to overcoming Otsar’s next challenge. Yaakov Kornreich has been an Anglo-Jewish journalist for more than 40 years. He is the Senior Editor of Building Blocks and the Health & Living supplement of the Jewish Press.


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