Page 1


WINTER 2017-2018

Through the Eyes of

learning disabilities See Page 10

Stardom for All PAGE 14

Single & Able PAGE 18

Know Your Rights PAGE 41

A Supplement of the

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SHABBOS PROGRAM INCLUDES: • ‫סעודות שבת‬ • ‫באטע‬/ Kumzitz • ‫עונג שבת‬/ Bnos Program • ‫מלוה מלכה‬/ Special Activites • Toys, games and fun

• Friday afternoon-Sunday morning • Food and linen supplied • Local community location-Parks nearby • Program Director • On-call Nursing • Application & intake process • Advance reservation required • Limited slots available For more information: 718.702.1529


Transformative Approach to Elevating the Lives of Those with Mental Illness


PROS Individualized Program for those with Persistent Mental Illness


Key Program Attainment Goals

Key Program Elements

Independent Living Symptom Management Maximize Career Prospects Socialization and Dating Skills

Individual Counseling Life Goal Attainment Peer Support Psychiatry




Touched by a Cover Rabbi Yaakov Klass


isro observed that Moses in teaching and judging the people was doing so for each individual and every individual situation, resolving both personal matters and financial disputes. This left him engaged in the people’s service from morning till evening. (Exodus 18:13-27) Yisro saw this as a daunting task fraught with danger both to Moses and to the people and suggested an alternate method of imparting the Torah’s proper observance to Bnei Yisrael. Thus the concept of a court system with judges, all men of great accomplishment on various levels would henceforth service the people, with one proviso, that Moses seek Divine permission to so enact. Indeed, G-d did give his blessing and thus Moses enacted a system exactly as his father in law suggested. We find elsewhere (Deuteronomy 27:1-9), when G-d commands Moses to commit the Torah to the Tablets, that they be well clarified – Ba’er Heitev. Rashi based on the Talmud (Sota 32a) explains well clarified as requiring committing the Torah to all seventy languages [of the world’s peoples]. The reason given for this requirement is that the Jewish people in the diaspora throughout the generations of their exile will each have the ability to live lives true to the Torah’s requirements. Thus we find Moses responsible in engaging everyone in a manner that will make it easiest for him to comprehend the Torah and its laws. In former times and in spite of these enactments not all possessed the ability to comprehend the Torah and

its laws without great difficulty if at all. Generations of our people fell to the wayside in their understanding of our Torah and hence their practice, at times, also fell to the wayside. In more recent times, we have the good fortune of breakthroughs in understanding the ways different individuals comprehend and process information. The sketch on this issue’s cover so well depicts the challenges facing the pedagogue in imparting information to a collective group. Each individual does not necessarily see the same information the same way. To some a simple sentence in English might as well be Greek. It takes a teacher who has years of training as well as accruing experience to feed the same information to each and every one of his/her students. With proper teacher education the challenge that was once solely that of the student is now more that of the teacher, whose charges when properly equipped can possess newfound comprehension abilities. Indeed such was G-d’s instruction to Moses. Impart the Torah in every language – in effect in every form to enable the Jewish people in all times and all places to follow His commands. Moses truly serves as the role model not only for every teacher but more specifically for those engaged in special education. 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


Welcome to My World Suffering from a Rare Disorder Page 18

BECOME A PART OF THE NEXT  REVIEWS - To arrange a product or book review:

E-mail Leah Postelnik at:

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Winter 2017-2018


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Childhood Traumatic Brain Injury Page 26

 ASK THE EXPERT - To ask a question of one of our therapists or advocates: E-mail Ilene Klass at:

* All submissions become the property of Building Blocks and may not be returned. Publication is subject to the discretion of the editors. Please do not submit previously published material.

A Supplement of the

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For further information or to advertise please contact: Moshe Klass at 718.330.1100 x35 2 or sales@jewishpre

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Publishes • Winter • Spring • Summer • Fall

For Back Issues & Subscriptions Contact Ettie at:


Flying Solo


Growing Up: Special Needs and Puberty


The Orton-Gillingham Approach


Places to Go Lancaster County, PA


Calendar of Events


Seeing Through the Eyes of a Child with Learning Disabilities


How We Can Help?


Lights, Camera, and Helping Special Needs Kids Get into Action


Family Forum

Look What’s

Inside… Our Winter 2017-2018 Issue


Touched by a Cover Rabbi Yaakov Klass


Block Bits

Co ver Stor y

Yaakov Kornreich

Ita Yankovich

Sarah Nathan

Judy Waldman

Yehudis Litvak

Golda Turner

Golda Turner

Zev Werzberger, LMFT

SEE PAGE 27 Winter 2017-2018



40 41

BB Products Showcase



Bulletin Board


An Architect for Change


Helping a Child Find Their Pathway to Success

From Our Side of the Table

Juby Shapiro, Parent and Advocate

Find us on

Tiferet Schafler

Yaakov Kornreich

: Building Blocks Magazine



WINTER 2017-2018 Through the Eyes of

learning disabiliti es See Page 10

About The Cover: The front page illustration commissioned for the cover story was created by Ari Binus. He studied painting at Boston University’s College of Fine Art, and specializes in illustration and sequential art/storyboarding. He also illustrated 5 children’s books. Ari is currently serving as story artist on two documentary films, and he collaborates regularly on projects with various filmmakers and writers. His website is


Moshe Klass

SENIOR EDITOR: Yaakov Kornreich


Tzivy Reiter


Toby Vogel


Chaya Ilene Klass


Gila Arnold, Sandy Eller, Yehudis Litvak, Tzivya Steinhardt and Golda Turner E-mail us at: to join our mailing list.


Avrohom Adler, Brocha Holczer, Rabbi Yaakov Klass, Abe Kopolovich, Esther Novak, Tzivy Reiter, Yitty Rimmer, Breindy Rosenblatt, Juby Shapiro, Toby Teichman and Golda Turner.

Product Review Coordinator:

Leah Postelnik


Chaya Ilene Klass Breindy Rosenblatt Yitty Rimmer


Stardom for All PAGE 14

Single & Able PAGE 18

Know Your Rights PAGE 41

A Supplement of




Heshy Korenblit David Hoppenwasser Leah Postelnik


Leah Postelnik




Stock Photos from &

Alana White For questions and comments or to order extra copies contact us at: or 718.330.1100 x352.

Building Blocks Magazine is published in collaboration with the Jewish Press. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form without prior written permission from the publisher is prohibited. The publisher reserves the right to edit all articles for clarity, space and relevance. Building Blocks Magazine assumes no responsibility for the content of advertisements. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Building Blocks Magazine or the Jewish Press. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the express written permission from the publisher. The rights of the publisher will be strictly enforced. Building Blocks Magazine is a US Registered Trademark.


Winter 2017-2018

‫• תפלת השחר‬ ‫• אלו מציאות‬ ‫• המפקיד‬

‫• הכונס‬ ‫• המניח‬ ‫• כיצד העדים‬


The Shalva band members do not let their disabilities get in the way of making great music. Each member brings talent, joy and their heart to every performance. Scrolling through the bios of every member is inspirational. Tal Kima plays percussion instruments and has Down syndrome. Yosef Ovadia sings and drums and has Williams’ Syndrome. Yair Shikri writes, produces and performs his own songs and has cerebral palsy. Each of

the eight band members are exceptional. “It’s so moving to see that they have become talented and professional musicians, and stand together with any musician out there” says Band Director, Shai Ben Shushan. Recently, the Shalva Band embarked on a month long trip and performed in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Audiences all over were enthralled by the experience.



Many children with disabilities need a boost of selfconfidence. Renee Bergeron, is a mom and professional photographer. She was thinking how to make her son feel strong and powerful. He has had two heart surgeries and has a feeding tube. A touching photo series spurred an idea. With some simple props her son became a superhero and loved the experience and the images. “The Superhero Project” was launched with the goal to help children with special needs feel confident and strong. It is also raising awareness about children with disabilities. Try implementing this idea by taking empowering photos or booking a photo session with a photographer who can help your child feel powerful and strong. Renee offers free photo sessions for special needs kids. Please contact her for more information. Photo Credits:


Winter 2017-2018


I WOULD LEAVE MY CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS ALONE WITH Kashrus Alert: Molly’s Bakeovers, which was featured in Summer 2017 issue of Building Blocks Magazine has discontinued their kosher certification. Any products still bearing the kosher certification are still kosher.


is the total number of blind students in the USA

5,093 are

Braille readers

In one hour: 450 babies will be born. 15 7 will have a major birth defect including 1 with congenital deafness

will be diagnosed with autism by kindergarten



of their peers will be identified with one of the many complex genetic conditions that NCBDDD focuses on including: Sickle Cell Disease Muscular Dystropy Hemophilia

Will be identified with ADHD as they move through grade shool.

So what have we done to help? NCBDDD and its partners provided the science needed for corn masa flour to be enriched with folic acid, resulting in about 40 fewer cases every year of neural tube defects in babies born to Hispanic mothers.

NCBDDD led nationwide implementation of pulse oximetry screening at hospitals, saving the lives of about 220 babies every year who would have otherwise died in infancy of critical conditions like congenital heart defects.

Every year, NCBDDD and its hearing program partners identify and intervene with >5,700 babies in early infancy who are born deaf or hard of hearing and who go on to make impressive gains in their language development and stay on par with their peers.

For the nearly 2,000 children born every year with complex genetic disorders, NCBDDD and its partners provide early prophylactic treatments and improved care which minimizes disease difficulties improving life expectancy.

Using research-driven techniques, NCBDDD and partners work to recognize, count, and support the millions of children with autism and ADHD so they might enjoy their fullest potential.


Kaila Neuman

Administrative Director at Yad Yisroel School As the parent of a child with special needs, Kaila Neuman saw firsthand the need for a school that would combine a rigorous educational program with individualized care and took initiative to bring her vision to life. With an emphasis on inidividaulized education, Yad Yisroel sticks to uncompromising standards, setting a new bar for high-quality special education in the community. What motivated you to enter the field of Special Education? One of my children has special needs. I was never especially interested in the special ed field, but when my son began showing signs of delays, I was thrown into it fully. As he grew, I began noticing the lack of programs for special needs children. I was looking for a place that would teach my son the tools he needed to succeed and provide individualized care, while working together with other parents to tailor the program toward our children. Tell us a bit about Yad Yisroel. We are an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) school that caters to individuals aged five through twenty-one. Our Flatbush campus features a wheelchair accessible facility, A state of the art gym, and classrooms stocked with the latest techonology and materials. For example, we have incorporated the Montessori curriculum and materials into our program. This method focuses on the process and not the product, so it helps give students the space they need for independent discovery. How many members are on each student's team? It really does take a village! Each team consists of BCBA's, a certified special ed teacher, occupational, speech, and physical therapists, counselor, animal and music therapists and a one-on-one paraprofessional. The most important members of the team are the parents. They know their children the best. We respect that and take their concerns into account—their priorities are our priorities. What are you most proud of about Yad Yisroel? Every aspect of the school is well-thought-out. We hire highly- trained professionals and are very discriminating in all of our choices, from the staff to the physical design of the classrooms. We are also proud of the strong connection we have with our parent body, and we make it a priority to work together with them. We believe that parent input is invaluable, and we often implement changes based on parent feedback. What is one piece of advice you would give / what’s the most important thing when it comes to your job? Education is key! A broad background and understanding of the field allows us to choose the best of each program and use that to create individualized interventions that help students succeed. To that end, our staff is constantly learning, attending workshops, and broadening their knowledge and skills.


2. 3.

4. 5.

Winter 2017-2018


Seeing Through the Eyes of a Child with LEARNING DISABILITIES Yaakov Kornreich


he teacher introduces a new word. He writes it on the blackboard while reading it out loud. In the third row, Yankie struggles to memorize the letters of the new word. They seem to morph and exchange position as he looks at them. Two seats to the right, Naftali is straining to distinguish the teacher’s words from the rumbling of the air conditioner in the window. Moishe, sitting in the far corner keeps his head down to avoid the harsh glare of the florescent light flickering above the teacher’s head. This is how the classroom environment - and the rest of the world - can seem to a child with a learning disability. Yankie has 10

Winter 2017-2018

dyslexia, which is why his reading level is steadily falling behind that of his classmates. Naftali has auditory processing disorder, which makes it difficult for him to filter out background noises when he is try to understand what his teacher is saying. Moishe is hypersensitive to visual stimuli, which makes it hard for him to concentrate. Once we understand the source of a child’s learning disability, we can usually find a way to compensate for it, either by employing the child’s other senses and abilities, or through the use of technology. To help Yankie overcome dyslexia, he can be taught various techniques to help him remember and quickly recognize words with unusual

spellings. Naftali can be helped by outfitting his teacher with an FM microphone that transmits directly into his ear, while Moishe needs a classroom environment with a minimum of sensory distractions. Today, observant families no longer need to dread the possibility that their child may have a learning disability. There is a broad array of programs and services that help children learn how to succeed in a Jewish environment. Parents can choose from among a wide range of available settings enabling them to give their child with a learning disability the educational opportunities and tools they will need to lead a meaningful and productive life.

Cover Story

ASSESS FOR SUCCESS To begin the process of finding the right help, the strengths and weaknesses of a child must be accurately assessed. Local governments and public school boards make evaluations available to any child in their jurisdiction free of charge. This is the first step in qualifying for help the child is entitled by law. Yet, parents are advised to do their homework and to make sure that their child’s evaluation is as accurate as possible. According to Judi Karp, the Associate Dean of Sinai Schools in Northern New Jersey, an evaluation can be colored by the evaluator’s professional training. For example, if a child is evaluated by a physical therapist, the resulting analysis and recommendation might be very different than if the evaluation was carried out by an occupational therapist. Specialists in one area often unaware of a different approach from another field that might work better for a particular child. That is why Karp recommends that parents seek out a hospital-based evaluation center which takes a comprehensive multi-disciplinary approach, even if they must pay for it privately. Having their child evaluated by a team of experts with a range of different specialties is the best way for parents to assure that every possibility for their child has been duly considered. But according to Golda Gorin, a Social Skills Therapist at Gesher Yehuda, the evaluation is only the starting point in the effort to discover a child’s needs and capabilities. There is a limit to how much even experts can learn about a child in just a few hours. Nobody knows the nature and needs of a child better than the parents. Parents should ask detailed questions about the evaluation and the resulting IEP (Individualized Education Program) that will serve as the blueprint for their child’s services. If parents are not satisfied with the answers they get, or the conclusions of the evaluation, they need to raise their concerns and challenge the evaluation and the IEP. PARENTS KNOW BEST Parents need to trust their intuition. If they see their child struggling because the therapy specified in the IEP isn’t working, they should demand action to find more effective ways to help their child. If their child shows an interest in a particular activity, such as attending a summer camp program, parents should do everything possible to give them that opportunity. If their child demonstrates a particular aptitude, such as an ability to draw, play a musical instrument, work with tools or master a computer, parents should try to make it Winter 2017-2018


Cover Story

possible for the child to fully exploit that ability. Tzivy Reiter, LCSW, a director at Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, emphasizes that a learning disability is not a reflection on a child’s innate intelligence and abilities. It is very important for parents and family members to show full confidence in their child’s ability to succeed, even if they learn in a different way. This is critical to maintaining the child’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Mrs. Shoshana Hasenfeld, the Director of Behavioral, Social and Emotional Therapies at Yeshiva Livnas Hasapir, notes that it is only natural for parents to nurture the highest hopes and dreams for the future of their child and for them to feel a keen disappointment upon discovering their child’s disability. But for the child’s sake, it is very important that parents conceal that disappointment because the child is likely to detect such feelings instinctively and react negatively to them. Hasenfeld urges parents to avoid the use of diagnostic labels in everyday conversations so that the child is not constantly reminded of their disability and can maintain a positive self-image. Labels are useful only in helping a child qualify for the services they need. At all other times, the focus should be on a child’s accomplishments and strengths in order to build up the child’s confidence. HELP SHOULDN’T WAIT Learning disabilities involve emotional, behavioral social and academic ramifications which, over time, can blend into and reinforce one another. Six-year-old Sara, in 1st grade, started falling behind the other kids in her class in the development 12

Winter 2017-2018

of her reading skills due to an undiagnosed learning disability. Sara felt that she was just as smart as her classmates, and was growing frustrated and angry at her inability to keep pace with them. Her once happy demeanor turned moody, and, when called upon by her teacher to read in class, Sara started to act out her frustration and anger. Fortunately, her teacher recognized the signs that Sara might have a learning disability and asked the principal to urge her parents to get her professionally evaluated. Sara then started receiving reading help in the school’s resource room and at home. Her attitude noticeably improved and her behavior in the classroom

KEY PARENTAL DECISIONS Every child needs to know that her parents’ love is unconditional. That is doubly important for a child with learning disabilities. She needs to know that no matter what setbacks she may encounter at home or in school, her parents’ love and support will not diminish. It is reflected in the parents’ willingness to devote unlimited amounts of their time, effort and money to meet her needs. Mrs. Hasenfeld emphasizes that when parents make key decisions, their child’s long-term chances for success must take precedent over any short-term considerations. For example, the parent should enroll their child in the school best suited

stabilized. But if her learning disability had gone undetected for much longer, Sara probably would not have been able to stay in her class, or even in her school. This is why it is important to obtain an accurate evaluation of the child’s abilities and disabilities as quickly as possible. It enables effective corrective measures to begin before the child falls too far behind her peers and eventually gives up on her ability to succeed. Maintaining her self-confidence is one of the keys to the child’s ability to overcome her learning disability. It is instilled by the positive attitude displayed towards the child by her parents, family members and caregivers.

to her educational needs, regardless of the impact of that choice on the family’s social status. Parents should also be careful to set realistic goals that their child can achieve. Goals should be attainable yet significant enough to give the child a sense of accomplishment which will boost their all-important self-confidence. Parents, teachers and fellow students, need to understand that a child’s subjective perception of their environment is impacted by their learning disability and is legitimate. It has a real impact on how the child reacts to the people around them, and it is not their fault. Borrowing a phrase from Hillary Clinton, Judi Karp says that

Cover Story

“It takes a village,” to raise a child with learning disabilities. HELPING YOUR CHILD TO UNDERSTAND Karp says that part of the education of a child with learning disabilities is to help them understand how other people see them and the world around them differently. A child with a learning disability must learn that they cannot assume that they understand why others react to them in a particular way. For example, eight-year-old Shimon is angry. When

A special program for bachurim 18 and above with mild challenges : ‫ראש ישיבה‬ ‫הרב ישראל שלום טויב שליט“א אב“ד באלטימאר‬ 12 MONTH PROGRAM, INCLUDING SUMMER CAMP.

year! ul

in our

ces uc sf

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.

Is your bachur having a hard time fitting in to a regular yeshiva?

ond s sec

asked why, Shimon responds, “Reuven is mad at me because he didn’t answer my question.” The best response is to ask Shimon if he can think of another reason why Reuven reacted that way. The goal is to encourage Shimon to come up with an alternative explanation which will defuse his anger, such as “perhaps he didn’t understand my question,” or “maybe he was too busy thinking about something else.” A child with learning disabilities needs to learn how to relate appropriately to their peers, their teachers and others who interact with them in their daily lives. They need to know what to expect and how to relate appropriately to family, friends and strangers in all kinds of situations. Such a child also needs the ability to apply special education principles, strategies and techniques that help them overcome their learning disabilities to new situations and future encounters. This ability is called metacognition, a higher order of thinking about the world around them as they perceive it. This gives children with learning disabilities the flexibility they will need to function successfully as adults, and become fully productive members of their families and community.


for more info Please call: R. Yitzchok Grunstein 718.303.9123

Expert Mechanchim

Gemara, Chumash Halacha, Mishnayos Social Skills, Daily Living Skills, Vocational skills Etc. Exercise Group English Classes


Winter 2017-2018


Lights, Camera, and Helping Special Needs Kids Get into Action Ita Yankovich


’m so angry that you won’t be my friend!” shouts Ben, an autistic boy. “Well, maybe if you were nicer and not such a meany all the time,” responds a Down Syndrome teen named Dina. “Okay people,” interjects the director, “We have reached the climax, now what should Ben and Dina do in Act II to resolve this matter?” This is a typical scene acted out by participants in a Drama Therapy session. There is speech therapy which addresses problems of articulation and language delays. Physical and occupational therapy deal with issues of mobility, sensory input and proper movement and a plethora of other therapies help with kids’ development. Drama therapy, which has been around since the 1970’s, utilizes all the above and more to help individuals with developmental delays. They gain confidence and skills they need to achieve their goals all while having fun. What makes Drama Therapy so successful is that it supports mental health and personal development under the guise of play. Role playing, performance, directing, improvisation, costume and set design, scripting and other theatrical methods are all used as teaching tools. And the Show Goes On…. In Our Community Children, and oftentimes special needs individuals, cannot access 14

Winter 2017-2018

the right words to adequately communicate and express their feelings. Drama Therapy is able to work around this obstacle by tapping into the child’s capacity for play, utilizing it as a central means of accessing and expressing feelings, gaining insight, and practicing successful approaches to difficult situations.

for girls and women in first grade and beyond. She also collaborates with various schools, camps, and institutions producing and directing shows, enhancing curriculum through drama, and running drama-based workshops.  Hirsch believes that drama is a natural way to integrate mainstream and special needs populations since

Drama Therapy has recently gained much traction with HASC, Yachad, Ptach, Sinai School and Day Habilitation programs throughout the community all implementing it as an additional strategy to help those with developmental disabilities meet their goals. Rina Hirsch is the founding director of Drama for Life!, an after-school drama program in Long Island established in 2004

it naturally encourages each person to embrace his or her individuality. With special needs students it is particularly important to give them an opportunity to role play and understand the bigger picture. At its most basic level, drama is about imitation and it gives students the chance to mimic desirable behaviors. “Drama allows the kids to test out their behaviors and their spoken words before

they are in that real-life situation. It allows students to become people that they quite possibly never imagined they could be. The drama experience allows students to expand their role repertoire, to practice social skills and life skills, and most importantly, to have fun” she explains. Yachad’s Day Hab program incorporates Drama Therapy in their vocational training. It affords opportunities to explore specific scenarios between boss and employee and teach the participants how to respond appropriately. Yachad would has students act out specific situations and then discuss how they could improve the interactions between the characters, and what could be done differently to make the scene work better. “It gave the individuals

very concrete scenarios that they When a particular issue is could explore in very real, but safe plaguing a student or class, teachers and therapists at the Sinai School also rely on Drama Therapy in addressing the matter. Sinai offers drama classes where instructors like Hirsch will record the students’ voices so they can hear how they sound to others and I’ll also video them so that they can see what their facial expressions and body language look like to others.  What this accomplishes is a whole other level of social skills. “This teaches teamwork, cooperation, and perspective taking. It’s scripted work, so they are forced to take on the role in its entirety and can’t change the words even though  they wouldn’t normally ways,” says Hirsch who worked say those words or behave that with Yachad in 2012. way,” explains Hirsch.  

Serving the Community Since 1979

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Latest products and services Expert-led workshops One-on-one engagement Revitalizing sports Kid-friendly fun FREE Adaptive dance ADMISSION Service animals Daily living aids for seniors


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August 3-5, 2018

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October 26-28, 2018


Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2018

Winter 2017-2018



May 1–4, 2018


Stars of the Show What if we gave high school girls with special needs the same opportunity to showcase their talents that their peers take for granted as part of a high school curriculum? What if we gave those with various degrees of cognitive and physical disabilities the ability to be a shining star by showcasing her talents in a professional theatrical presentation? According to Tziri Frank, this is how Night of the Stars, a bi-annual performance featuring 36 participants of the day hab organization SHARE 24/7, a division of Chesed 24/7, Chesed 24/7 provides extensive and innovative services to the sick, the elderly,

Great Speakers. Great Learning. Essential Topics in Early Childhood Development.

• Over 100 Speakers • More than 80 Conference Sessions • Pre-Conference Workshop • 40 Exhibitors & Over 1,000 Attendees Great training for all professionals working with all young children (typically developing & autism/special needs) including Teachers, Special Ed Teachers, Psychologists, SWS, Speech Therapists, OT, PT, ABA Providers, Program Directors/ Principals/Administrators, Pediatricians, and Child Care Professionals.

To register go to: or call 212-787-9700, ext. 333 Early Bird & Group Discounts Available

Presented by

the developmentally disabled, and any individual or family facing a life challengea charity organization that provides extensive help and resources to the development disabled or anyone else facing a life crises, came about Chesed 24/7 provides extensive and innovative services to the sick, the elderly, the developmentally disabled, and any individual or family facing a life challenge. Frank directs, produces and writes the 90 minute presentation, which is produced every other year and “stars” the members of this unique cast in dance, song, and drama. The girls, and their dance, drama, and vocal coaches spend approximately six months learning, improving, and perfecting their skills so that they can “shine” on stage. “During performances, audiences do not see what the participants CAN’T do, rather what they CAN,” says Frank; and this is perhaps most applicable for those with developmental disabilities. William Shakespeare famously wrote that “all the world’s a stage” and that is the principle behind Drama Therapy; sometimes you can learn more by playing than by studying and working. Ita Yankovich is a freelance writer. She also teaches English and Literature at Kingsborough College and Touro College.

G r e at N e w s ! Torah for Special Children

Sunday Program runs from 9:30-3:30 TRANSPORTATION PROVIDED


AB A therapy avail able



Located at: 6214 24th Ave. Brooklyn, NY To register or for more information please contact: Deborah Sasson, Program Director 718.336.6073 x. 110 • W W W. H I H F S . O R G

Flying Solo: Raising a Special Needs Child Alone Sarah Nathan


s a single parent, I understand how difficult it is to juggle parenting alone. There is me and there are my two boys and they have no one to rely on besides their mom. Thank G-d, my sons are healthy and don’t have any physical handicaps or disabilities. However, I watched my mother single parenting my special needs sister. My sister was born with a myriad of medical issues and spent the first three years of her life in the ICU of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. She didn’t see daylight until she was released at the age of three. Over the years, I have watched my mother do it all; every appointment, every medical issue, every hospitalization, every decision, and every medication adjustment. My sister has flourished, although her disabilities are severe, there is no doubt that all her growth and progress is due to my single mother’s never-ending efforts. She has taken an active role in every decision in my sister’s life. My mother made sure that she visits the best diagnosticians, attends the highest quality day-programs and receives the most outstanding medical care. There is a tremendous amount of research correlating divorce amongst parents of special needs 18

Winter 2017-2018

children. However, the frequentlyquoted statistic of an 80% plus divorce rate in marriages where the parents are raising a child with special needs is not a reliable statement without a source - and the source is unbeknownst to me. I make no claims that this statistic is true or not true, but it seems reasonable to assume that stress ‘caused’ by a special needs child can be a major factor in his/her parents’ divorce. From the data I have studied, the research does reflect that this one specific variable can be a cause for divorce among

parents of special needs children more than others. In 2010, a group of researchers from the American Psychological Association examined the rates of divorce among families of children with autism.  “Parents of children with ASD had a higher rate of divorce than the comparison group (23.5% vs. 13.8%).”   A total of 391 divorced parents of special needs children participated in the research. This is one of the hundreds of studies on the topic varying in the number of participants, types of diagnoses, the countries the

research was tested and the participant’s religions. In contrast, there is also research supporting the school of thought that there is little direct correlation between parents of special needs children and the rates of divorce. In 2013, researchers examined the occurrence and timing of separation of parents raising children with ASD who were followed over a 10-year period. They compared divorced parents vs parents

who remained married and the results showed that after 10 years of follow-up, 74.8 % of the couples remained together, representing a separation rate of 25.2 %. This research suggests that “raising a child with autism does not often lead to the dissolution of the parents’ relationship, as is commonly believed.” The Real Story Recently, I asked a few friends and acquaintances who are single-moms raising a child with special needs to share their experiences. The women vary greatly in age and in how many years they are divorced. One common denominator that was expressed by all of them was the realization that they have to single-handedly give everything they could to these children. They struggle every day to give them the best opportunity to grow and flourish. My own challenges in raising two children alone are clearly less burdensome. As much as we share some similar experiences, they all spoke of something I had never thought of. Their kids might never grow up and move on and they might be single moms to (adult) children forever. This thought left me feeling a new awe and respect to these amazing women. Each of them possess tremendous strength and commitment to their children. However, they were real in expressing the challenges as well. “Finding time to run to all the appointments Winter 2017-2018


and meetings for the kids in addition to juggling work and running a household has been a major challenge” said Shoshana, a single mother of three children with mild special needs. It seemed that the mothers with children who had “mild” disabilities such as ADHD, LD, or social problems, were equally challenged as the mothers with children who had more severe disabilities, such as multiple handicaps, autism, speech impediments, or rare genetic syndromes. Interestingly, many parents shared that if a child is more disabled, it does not mean that the situation is necessarily more difficult for the parent. Jenny, a single mother of three children with severe medical challenges relates that “The emotional and physical burden is solely on my shoulders. It is my responsibility to get all three to a successful, healthy place in their lives”. After an emotional talk with Shoshana, she shares, “I think for me the most difficult part is that I have too much on my plate and it is not things you can ask someone else to do. When you have a new baby, life can be overwhelming, but then neighbors drop off food and someone offers to carpool your other children and everything is manageable. But who is going to run to appointments for me, or sit with a specialist and brainstorm about an issue, or go to work instead of me? There just isn’t enough wiggle room.” I was shocked to learn that five out of the six moms I spoke to claim that the dad is not involved with doctor appointments, therapists, medications and decisions. Only one father was ‘a little’ involved. Three mothers said the dad sees the kids infrequently, one said the dad sees his children all the time and 20

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the two remaining moms expressed how their ex’s  completely don’t exist in the picture. It is important to note however, that many fathers today are very involved with their children post-divorce. Even when children have disabilities fathers continue to share the burden of providing the best care and making crucial decisions. “It was hard dealing with the disappointment and accepting the amount of time and energy (or lack thereof) that my ex-spends with my daughter,” said Leeba, a divorced mother of an extremely developmentally delayed child. “I have had to learn to separate my feelings, not get angry and instead just play the role of two parents to my child. The silver lining is that until my divorce I made all decisions myself with resentment and after my divorce, I could make those same decisions without any resentment.” Ilana who is completely alone in her parenting stated, “Since my ex has been out of the picture it’s been a lot easier to manage as he used to cause many of the problems.” It is possible that there may be a small measure of relief for these mothers in being allowed to ‘call the shots’ alone. What They Say “My kids have taught me so much about life and have given me so

much strength,” shares Jenny. “They are my biggest accomplishment thus far. Love and patience for YOURSELF, as a single parent, and for your kids is the best gift you can give yourself and them. And don’t listen to what any other people think, do what you feel is best for all of you. Oh, and advocate, advocate, advocate - don’t give up! The system is so hard and they will deter you and try to beat you down, but remember that you are the only voice for these kids, so don’t be afraid to use it (and LOUDLY!)” Natalie, who has been a single parent for more than ten years and has an autistic 23-year-old child says with conviction, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help!” “When people see me as a single mom of a special needs child, they sometimes say, ‘Hashem doesn’t give what someone can’t handle’ and I hate that!” said Leeba. “Don’t say that to us. We don’t want to hear that. Sometimes we feel like we can’t handle it! And that is OK.” Single moms experience similar situations and emotions. Yet, these remarkable women have unfathomable challenges. Their special needs children may or may not have been a variable in their decision to divorce, but once they made the decision, they soon learned how much responsibility they carry. Each of them are flying solo and soaring to greater heights by giving their children the best they can. *This article is based on the author’s personal viewpoint. **All names have been changed to protect the privacy of the parents. Sarah Nathan has a M.Ed. in special education with an emphasis in behavior management. Her 15+ years’ of experience with special needs children, as well as her position as a single parent, has given her endless lessons in how to work with children in challenging situations. Sarah lives with her two sons in Gush Etzion, Israel.

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Growing Up: Special Needs and Puberty Judy Waldman


s your pre-teen or teenager experiencing mood swings? Having more temper tantrums than usual? How about an increase in stubbornness? What about your pre-teen or teenager with disabilities? Puberty is pretty much the same for our children with cognitive and developmental impairments as for their siblings. The rite of passage is a time when raging hormones seemingly affect every pore in a child’s mind and body. As if dealing with those bodily and emotional changes isn’t formidable enough, it becomes more problematic in how to discuss these issues with our children with physical and mental challenges. The key word is “discussion.” Communication with our children by either talking or with visuals, in an appropriate setting, at an opportune time, and in a loving and supportive environment will best assure a comfortable and hopefully happy transition from childhood to adulthood. What’s Happening? Your child with a physical, mental, or sensory challenge is growing into a young lady or young man. Puberty and maturation of the sexual organs is a normal part of human development. A part of us may be grateful that our children have progressed to this milestone stage. Yet, we may feel a huge responsibility to help them understand the changes, teach 22

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them proper hygiene, and to keep them safe. There are ways to help our children with disabilities in their transformation through this awkward stage. One significant difficulty is that while the physical changes continue to progress the coping skills and understanding

Go Girl!

Girls may need special explanations about menstruation while emphasizing that it is normal and happens to all healthy females. Explaining the process in clear and simple terms may be very helpful. You can say something like “to menstruate means blood coming from inside your body, out of your vagina, into a pad in your underwear, but it doesn’t hurt like blood from a cut. We leave a pad in our underwear because it keeps our clothes clean. “ Create rules that are clear and simple. For example “You must wear a pad for two days after you think your period is over.” Have a consult with an Occupational Therapist to help address issues relating to hygiene and/or clothing. For the grand finale, how about “period panties.” While researching this article, I discovered there are several manufacturers with varying styles and amenities. Wow!

of the emotional changes might be more delayed. However, the distress caused by the physical challenges may still be keenly felt by a child with disabilities much as a typical child. Along with the physical changes, hormones also cause behavioral changes particularly mood swings. The desire for independence increases which can be a mixed blessing. Your child may feel self-conscious about the physical changes as well as not understanding the emotional rollercoaster they may be experiencing. Communicate with your child with words or visuals at every opportunity, listen to what they are feeling, and make sure they know there is always open communication. With patience and understanding you can help them navigate the tumult. Special Concerns Typical and atypical children experience puberty in similar ways. Some individuals with special needs may experience a delayed maturational onset or they may be more irregular. There are two significant elements that do effect them: (1) explaining the changes and how to deal with them and (2) sexuality. Alyssa Sacks, Medical Director at Camp HASC, relates that the onset of puberty can potentially be a troublesome time. She sees a significant increase in behavioral

issues in specific populations. Primarily with non-verbal adolescents and those who have prior behavior issues. The nonverbal child may show increased agitation and be more aggressive presumably due to their inability to express themselves. She also sees changes in behavior at the onset of menstruation and at the premenstrual cycle. Although the behaviors may require a change in medications during this time, it usually settles down in the older adolescent. For the pre-teen or teenager who is more cognitively aware, Mrs. Sacks says that she sees more signs of depression. The child might be realizing more things that they cannot do and become more cognizant that they are different. Another group of concern is those with seizures. There may be either an increase or decrease in the

Speaking of interviews and tznius, I had planned on interviewing mothers of special needs teenagers and young adults for this article. I have a couple dozen moms (ranging from Modern Orthodox to Chassidish) that I could call if I had a personal question (opinions on doctors, schools, camps, therapists, life, etc.). I had planned on calling a few to ask of their experience and suggestions for dealing with puberty. However, I felt myself unable to do so. Even as a published writer, asking for information for a frum publication that hopefully will be beneficial to other parents, I could bring myself to only call two mothers. Do I have a problem or do we?

frequency of seizures and changes in medication are common. What Do You Think? Public perception is a major issue according to Lisa Galinsky, Program Director of Yachad Israel. Many people do not think that children with special needs go through puberty, therefore, they aren’t acknowledged as having emotions, hormones, or sexual feelings. It is crucial that special needs educational settings include a curriculum that specifically addresses the emotional issues facing these children. They don’t have the instincts to know what is ok and what isn’t; they don’t know what to do with their emotions. Mrs. Galinsky gives the example of a 22 year-old male who self-stimulates whenever and wherever he wants. “No one has taught him the guidelines – it needs

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Winter 2017-2018


to be taught before they get to this point.” Numerous specialists agree that one of the most difficult aspects for individuals with disabilities experiencing puberty is their emerging sexuality. A parent, should be the primary source for the child’s information, however, it might be helpful to find out what is being taught, or not, in their school. Studies and surveys show that individuals with disabilities are more vulnerable to sexual abuse. The multiple reasons for this sad statistic may include their inability to communicate, their cognitive impairment, emotional distancing, the inability to distinguish levels of friendship, and frequent interactions with people that they trust or that help the child such as therapists (occupational, physical, and/ or speech), teachers, and caretakers. Statistics show that 60-90% of girls with developmental disabilities are sexually abused by age 18. The numbers are too staggering to ignore. How to Help Your Child? Have a discussion with your child’s pediatrician. Make time to communicate with your child what is happening to their bodies before the need arises. Find out what they already know. The discussion will create a familiar starting point. Ask them if they noticed someone who is pregnant. Ask them if they noticed differences in male and female bodies. 24

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Explain that the changes they are experiencing are natural and part of growing up. Keep the language accurate but simple. Define terms and break them down into specifics. For example, clearly explain how menstruation looks and emphasize that it is not the same as bleeding from a cut and that it doesn’t hurt. For less verbal children use pictures and illustrations to show a child, a teen and a grown-up. Illustrate the physical changes that they will experience. Make sure to stress that you are always available to answer any questions and how proud you will be if they turn to you with concerns or just wanting to talk. Repetition helps reinforce familiarity. Make sure to institute good habits right from the beginning. Define privacy as the parts of your body covered by underwear or a bathing suit. Explain that our bodies are holy and treating them respectfully in all forms of health care and hygiene is important. Start giving more privacy during shower or bathroom time. You have helped your child through difficult stages before. With pre-planning, understanding, patience, and repetition, you will help your child through this one too. Eventually, you may look back on the challenges and once again be proud of your child and yourself. Judy Waldman is a freelance and technical writer. Most proudly, she is the mother of a 22 year old daughter with Down Syndrome. Judy may be contacted at


 Create a picture board with body parts and labels.  Read illustrated books together on the appropriate topics.  Model good hygiene. Let your child watch you shave, put on deodorant, etc.  When an incident occurs, such as the onset of menstruation each month, be excited: “Wow, mazel tov! You’re a big girl now!”  Make it something to look forward to such as a mom/daughter trip for ice cream every month when menstruation starts.  Have “practice periods.” Place pads in underwear, show how to wrap and dispose of a used pad. Try different pads to find out which are the most comfortable. Make it fun by squirting water colored with red food coloring onto the pad, dark red for the heavier days. It’s a good time to remind about wiping “front to back.”  Make a Menstrual Chart, a monthly calendar marking the days with particular symbols when a period begins, ends, and when it is next expected. Do this together.  Go deodorant shopping together. Depending on your child’s tactile sensitivities, they may show a preference for spray, stick, or roll-on. Practice using it before the need.  Shaving may present an uncomfortable sensation. Try using depilatory creams, in consultation with your child’s pediatrician.  Use a marker (not permanent!) to draw dots on their face and then demonstrate how to wash properly (with “special” soap if needed) and put a dab of antibacterial ointment on the spots.  Talk about safe touch and unsafe touch and self-assertion. Role play Stranger Danger. You can play a game I call “True Friends”. Is Racheli your friend? Yes. Is Nechamie your friend? Yes. Is Mrs. Martin your friend? No, she’s your teacher, she’s not your friend. Is Miss Sharon your friend? No, she’s your bus driver, not your friend. I explain the difference between “friendly” and friend.” If anyone in either category ever touches her, she is to yell, “Help” and immediately tell an adult.


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Spotlight on

The Orton-Gillingham Approach:

Help for Children with Learning Disabilities


n 1925, a neuropathologist in Iowa, Dr. Samuel Orton, conducted a study of elementary school students who were referred by their teachers because they were falling behind in their schoolwork. To his surprise, Dr. Orton discovered that these children scored highly on their IQ tests and were generally intelligent. Dr. Orton and his contemporaries could not understand why such bright children had trouble with the basics, such as learning how to read. In the following years, Dr. Orton conducted extensive studies on what is now known as dyslexia. A pioneer in the field, he observed the symptoms, theorized about their causes, and introduced the first of its kind multisensory approach to teach reading to students with dyslexia. A student of Dr. Orton’s, educator and psychologist Anna Gillingham, developed the multisensory approach further. In 1935, Ms. Gillingham and her colleague Bessie Stillman published a revolutionary book, Remedial Training for Children with Specific Disability in Reading, Spelling and Penmanship. To this day, the approach described in this book, now called the Orton-Gillingham approach, is used successfully by teachers and tutors with children with a wide spectrum of learning disabilities. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, as many as 1 in 5 children have learning and 26

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Yehudis Litvak attention issues, though only some of these disabilities are formally identified in school. Learning disabilities are defined as “brain-based difficulties in reading, writing, math, organization, focus, listening comprehension, social skills, motor skills or a combination of these.” They include dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and others. With proper instruction and support, students with learning disabilities can grow into successful adults. “The Orton-Gillingham approach will address any weakness a child has,” says Sarah Ruttner of

multaneously uses a mat to trace the letter with two fingers. The students obtain the information in the way that works the best for them, while at the same time, strengthening their other senses. Ms. Ruttner explains that the Orton-Gillingham approach relies on several important principles. The principle of individualizing means that each student’s needs are taken into consideration and the teaching methods are adjusted accordingly. While the approach is frequently used in one-on-one instruction, it can also be used with pairs or small

Kriah Direct, based in Brooklyn, NY. She explains that the approach incorporates three senses: auditory, visual, and tactile. For example, when introducing a new letter, the teacher shows the student a card with the letter and says the sound of the letter while the student si-

groups of students who have similar challenges. Another major principle is metalinguistics. “The students need to understand what words are made up of,” says Ms. Ruttner. “When they understand what they are doing it is easier to learn.” The

approach is systematic, cumulative, and sequential. As the lessons progress, previously learned material is reinforced. The approach involves direct teaching – “the student understands goals, knows where he is, and knows how much material needs to be mastered,” explains Ms. Ruttner. “Once the student got the concept it usually flows.” With consistent instruction, it doesn’t take more than a year for the child to learn to read fluently. While the Orton-Gillingham approach was originally developed to teach English reading, Ms. Ruttner uses the same principles for teaching Hebrew reading. “Kriah is much simpler,” she says. While pre-reading skills are the same, Hebrew is more phonetic and easier to decode. Children can learn to read Hebrew at the same time as they are

learning to read in English. If they understand the concepts and their minds are open to learning they do not confuse the two languages, explains Ms. Ruttner. The Orton-Gillingham approach works for all ages. Ms. Ruttner had an eleven-year-old student who couldn’t read at all. When she began working with him, the student made quick progress. He asked, “Where was this program until now?” Of course, it is better to begin the Orton-Gillingham approach earlier. “It is important for teachers to keep in mind which students can benefit from it,” says Ms. Ruttner. “If at age 5 or 6 they are learning one letter a week and are not picking it up, they might need more specific instruction.” While the Orton-Gillingham method succeeds most of the time, there are some cases where the

students need more intense remediation, such as the LIPS or Lindamood-Bell methods. But the vast majority of Ms. Ruttner’s students are success stories. For example, one student could not retrieve any information. With the Orton-Gillingham approach, Ms. Ruttner helped him master sounds and blending. “He remembered them – the information stuck,” she says. Another student was preparing for his Bar Mitzvah. Ms. Ruttner worked with him on kriyah. “His laining was amazing,” she says. Children with learning disabilities might have to work harder than their peers when it comes to reading, writing, and spelling, but the Orton-Gillingham approach can help them tremendously in achieving their learning goals. Yehudis Litvak is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children.

Winter 2017-2018


Places to Go

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Golda Turner


hat comes to mind when you hear these names? Lancaster. Pennsylvania Dutch. The Amish. The Plain People. These names conjure up pictures of rolling farmlands tilled the old fashioned way, herds of cows milked by hand, horse drawn buggies, barn raisings, and women in long hand-sewn dresses with bonnets on their heads. This quaint link to the past still exists in a small pocket of Pennsylvania countryside, where the Amish have eschewed modern conveniences in favor of a simple way of life long forgotten by the rest of us. See how the old and the new create a vibrant contrast in everyday life. The modern side of Pennsylvania coexists and blends with the old fashioned. The steam train and the buggy ride. The safari and the farm. The amusement park and the corn maze. You can get a taste of many worlds seemingly hundreds of years apart during one enjoyable trip. Whether you crave a relaxing drive through pleasant scenery or like to people-watch. Whether you


Winter 2017-2018

are a chocoholic or a thrill seeker, there is something for everyone in your family to enjoy and good memories to be made. Buggy Rides - What is a visit to the Amish without a buggy ride? Sit back and relax as you journey through the back roads of Lancaster County with all the sights, sounds and smells of daysgone-by. See some of the most beautiful countryside in America, ride through a covered bridge, or visit a working Amish dairy farm. To get you started, here are a few local providers who will drive you through the local roads and dirt fields to visit actual Amish farms: AAA Buggy Rides Intercourse PA  717.989.2829  Ed’s Buggy Rides Ronks PA  717.687.0360  A is For Amish Buggy Rides - Ronks  PA  717.725.8664  Abe’s Buggy Rides - BirdIn-Hand PA  717.392.1794 

Aaron & Jessica’s Buggy Rides - Bird-InHand PA  717.768.8828  Working Farm - Where does milk come from? How do plants grow? Do chickens really come from eggs? Treat your kids to a day at this working farm, where they can enjoy wholesome handson experiences such as holding a baby chick, hoisting bales of hay, and much more. Cherry Crest Farm is also the home of the renowned Maize Maze, a walking maze through tall stalks of growing corn. The maze is wheelchair accessible, though since it is an actual field, it can be a bit bumpy. Cherry Crest Adventure Farm Ronks PA  866.546.1799  Strasburg Railroad Strasburg PA  717.687.7522  Travel aboard authentic passenger cars pulled by a massive, coal-burning steam locomotive. View rolling hills, working

farms and a landscape that has changed little over time. Back at the station, test your power on an authentic Pump Car, take a ride on the miniature steam train or go along for a behind-the-scenes tour of where passenger cars and steam engines are built, restored and refurbished. Wheelchair lift available, but not ADA compliant due to the historical nature of the railroad cars—doorways and aisles may not fit wider wheelchairs. Lake Tobias Wildlife Park - Halifax PA  717.362.9126  Jump on an open air safari bus which takes you to over 150 acres that are home to 500 mammals and flightless birds. You will see buffalo, elk, European deer, Asian deer, and many other animals. Be ready for animals to come right up to you! The tour is 45 minutes long and covers both pasture lands and wooded areas. Visit the reptile and exotic habitat and the petting zoo. Most exhibits are wheelchair accessible. There is an accessible bus for those who cannot transfer to the open air safari tour bus. Walking trails are accessible, but have loose gravel and inclines which may make it a bit more difficult to push a wheelchair. Refreshing Mountain - Stevens PA  888.353.1490  Ziplining is not for the fainthearted, but it is an experience to remember. Both beginners and advanced zipliners will enjoy their three exhilarating treetop canopy courses with multiple zipline experiences. Sorry, this is NOT wheelchair accessible. Choo Choo Barn Strasburg PA  800.450.2920  See Lancaster County like you’ve never seen it before - in miniature! The

Choo Choo Barn is much more than “just trains” - it is a true work of art. This 1,700 square foot train display features over 150 handbuilt animations and figures and 22 operating trains! See the fireman ride the fire truck to squirt real water on a burning house, an authentic Amish barn raising, a three ring circus, a zoo, and so much more! Wheelchair accessible, but narrow aisles—no scooters or double strollers. Turkey Hill - Columbia PA  844.847.4884  Although this is not the actual working factory, interactive exhibits teach how ice cream and tea flavors are selected and created. Become an ice cream maker for a day, produce and star in your own TV commercial, milk mechanical cows, and more. Wheelchair accessible. Hershey Chocolate Factory Hershy PA  800-HERSHEY  Dubbed ‘The Sweetest Place on Earth’, the Hershey factory is a chocolate lovers heaven. The smell alone makes the trip worthwhile! Learn how chocolate is made, create your own candy with personalized wrapper (kosher certified, not cholov Yisroel), and enjoy a mystery show. Wheelchair accessible.

Places to Go Hershey Park - Hershey PA  800.HERSHEY  www. Hershy is a large amusement park with over 65 rides, entertainment, a marine presentation, and a North American wildlife park. Enrolling in their Ride Accessibility Program generates a list of appropriate rides and entitles wheelchair users to enter through the ride’s exit. There are a number of quiet spaces throughout the park to provide relief from sensory stimulation. Dutch Wonderland Lancaster PA  866.386.2839  Geared towards families with children ages 12 and under, Dutch Wonderland features over 35 rides and attractions. Ride accessibility guide available on their website or by calling guest services. For more information on planning your Pennsylvania vacation, visit 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

Winter 2017-2018


CALENDAR OF EVENTS **Ohel’s Sibshops are scheduled on a monthto-month basis. Contact Leah_Horowitz@ for upcoming dates.

JANUARY 2018 Sky Zone Cares Where: 111 Rodeo Drive, Deer Park, NY More Info: 631.392.2600 Time: 3:00-6:00 pm


Sky zone Deer Park Indoor Trampoline Park opens on the first Monday of each month exclusively for jumpers with special needs. Team members have been trained to be accommodating to individuals with autism. Awareness, acceptance, and special modifications have been implemented by the management team and they dial down the music, increase the staff ratio, and limit capacity.

Are you looking for support and guidance, networking with other moms? Learn about how to be the best advocate, and services and resources available in the community.

Abilities Expo--Toronto Where: International Centre 6900 Airport Road, Mississauga, Ontario More Info:


Come discover ability enhancing products and services, play adaptive sports, attend informative workshops, and see new technologies. Registration requested.

Safe disposal of medical sharps for residents of Rockland County, NY. Needles, syringes, and lancets must be placed in an approved sharps container.

A sensory friendly event the first Sunday of Every month offers an opportunity for children to enjoy games in a calm and safe environment that includes dimmed lighting, no shows or music, trained & caring staff.

Create Ability Where: Museum of Modern Art 4 West 54th Street — Cullman Building, New York, New York More Info: 212.408.6447 Time: 11:00 am-1:00 pm • Ages 5-7 2:00-4:00 pm • Ages 18 & up


MoMa’s 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 galleries, and making art in the classroom. This month’s feature is Design for the People. Registration requested.


Webinar: Early Intervention and Preschool Services More Info: https://register.gotowebinar. com/register/3495527069041867523 Time: 6:00 pm

An Early Intervention evaluation may be the first step to find out about a child’s developmental strengths and needs - whether the child is losing previously acquired skills or just does not seem to be progressing in his/her development. Learn NJ eligibility requirements, what children and their families are entitled to and how to prepare for transition from Early Intervention services.

Art In Sight 9 Where: Museum of Modern Art 11 West 53rd Street, New York, New York More Info: 212.408.6447 Time: 2:00-4:00 pm


Winter 2017-2018

Moms Support Group Where: JCC MetroWest 760 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ More Info: 973.929.3129 Time: 7:30-9:30 pm


Medical Sharps Disposal 2 Where: Northern Manor Multicare Front entrance - 199 North Middletown Road Nanuet, New York Time: 10:00 am-12:00 pm, 6:00 -8:00 pm

Chuck E. Cheese 7 Sensory Sensitive Sundays Where: 40-24 College Point Road Flushing, New York More Info: 718.321.0400 • Time: 9:00-11:00 am

MoMA’s monthly program for individuals who are blind or partially sighted. Each month, lecturers highlight specific themes, artists, or exhibitions through verbal description and touch. This month’s feature is Design for the People. Wheelchairs, portable stools, FM headsets, and large print information brochures are available. Service animals are welcome. Registration requested.

Discoveries Family Workshops 21 Where: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York More Info: 212.535.7710 • Time: 11:00 am-12:30pm




Support Group For Caregivers Responsible For Disabled Adults

23- Abilities Expo—Los Angeles 25 Where: Los Angeles Convention Center West Hall A 1201 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA More Info: Come discover ability enhancing products and services, play adaptive sports, attend informative workshops, and see new technologies. Registration requested.

Create Ability 25 See January 7th entry for more information.

This month’s feature is Brushstrokes & Paint.


Transition Conference Where: Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel Woodbridge, New Jersey More Info: transition/register

Transition Conference focused exclusively on the transition to adulthood. This critical time in the life of a person with autism requires careful planning on the parts of both caregivers and professionals. Our esteemed presenters will discuss a variety of legal, educational, and service topics specifically addressing adolescence and the changes that come with the end of the high school years. The Transition Conference offers 12 workshops presented by leaders in the field and 50 exhibits focusing on legal, instructional, and services issues. Registration requested.

Caregivers Support Group 28 See January 31st entry for more information.

Chuck E. Cheese Sensory Sensitive Sundays

MARCH 2018

See January 7th entry for more information


Moms Support Group

See January 10th entry for more information

See January 22nd entry for more information

Support group for Moms, Dads, and other caregivers who are responsible for an adult with disabilities. Reservation requested.


Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo—San Diego, California Where: San Diego, California More Info: Time: 10:00am-3:00 pm

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

14 14

Where: Jewish Community Center of Central New Jersey - 1341 Martine Avenue Scotch Plain, New Jersey More Info: Dr. Laura Weitzman Time: 7:30-9:00 pm


Webinar: An Overview of the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund Where: register/165877106159709955 Time: 12:00 pm

The Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund is a financial assistance program for New Jersey families whose children have an illness or condition. For those eligible, it reimburses families and guardians for expenses incurred not otherwise covered by health insurance or State or Federal programs.

Support Group For Caregivers

Support group for caregivers of children and adults with special needs. This group will offer support and guidance, an opportunity to network with other parents/ & guardians. Learn about ways to advocate for your child, and services and resources available in the community. Registration requested.

Golda Turner

Safe disposal of medical sharps for residents of Rockland County, NY. Needles, syringes, and lancets must be placed in an approved sharps container.

22 Responsible For Disabled Adults

Caregivers Support Group 31 Where: JCC of Central NJ 1391 Martine Avenue, Scotch Plains, NJ More Info: 908.352.8375 Time: 7:30-9:30 pm

Connecting Parents of Children With Special Needs

Medical Sharps Disposal 6 Where: Nyack Hospital-security entrance 160 North Midland Avenue, Nyack, New York Time: 845.348.3061 10:00 am-12:00 pm, 6:00 -8:00 pm

Children with disabilities, together with friends and family, explore the day’s theme on a gallery tour followed by an art activity in the studio. These workshops support development of social and life skills, such as communication and independent living skills. Reservations requested

Courtesy OF

Sky Zone Cares

See January 1st entry for further information


Chuck E. Cheese Sensory Sensitive Sundays

See January 7th entry for more information.


ever any peace in our home as he is always making noise, spilling things, or getting into fights. This leads my wife and I feeling frustrated and we end up taking things out on each other. How can we learn to endure his behavior without it always leading to fights?

Zev Werzberger, LMFT My 3-year-old son with special needs is destroying our marriage. At home and in public, he does things that make parenting difficult for us. There is hardly

Enjoy Your Child Together  Focus on smiles, laughs and giggles: It is very refreshing to actively notice your child being happy.  Watch him sleep:  Even the most challenging kids are angels when they are asleep.  Play games that do not involve winning and losing: Focus on sharing the experience with arts and crafts, baking, or playing catch. Be a Team  Turn towards each other when frustrated. Be a source of support for your spouse.  Talk with your spouse about your child’s positive qualities.  Validate each other’s feelings

Having children misbehave is one of the hardest parts of being a parent. Parents can invest in a child and still not experience the results that they hope for. Especially with children with special needs, where

when things get tough.  Schedule a monthly “date night”. Plan for Outings  Take time before leaving the house. Unanticipated things always come up.  Avoid long lines. However hard it is for adults, it is that much more challenging for children, especially those with special needs.  Always bring food. Kids often misbehave when they are hungry. Don’t Ever Be Embarrassed!  Reassure yourself. No matter how your child behaves, know that that you and your spouse are doing the best you can.  Think what is best for your

behavior can be more challenging, the ability for parents to cope and work with each other becomes paramount. The secret, however, lies not in overcoming your child’s behaviors, but rather in changing your perspective about your child. Recognizing that your role as parents is to do the best you can for your child by giving him a loving and supportive environment regardless of any of his behaviors will go a long way in improving your relationship with your child and your marriage. Here are some tips to help you and your spouse achieve this goal. child. Parents are at their worst when considering what other people are thinking.  Recognize that your challenge is a lot harder than others. Change Your Perspective  Develop a healthy curiosity about your child.  Behaviors that may seem odd or disruptive may actually be helping your child regulate his emotion. This will help you understand the function of your child’s behavior, which will then allow you to more creatively think of replacement behaviors for your child.  As opposed to thinking that your child does whatever he wants, think of him as free spirited. Begin to use this kind of language when discussing your son with your spouse.  Recognize that things are hard for your child as well. Children are very sensitive to their surroundings. When they feel those around them being stressed, it stresses them out as well.

Note: Question and answer are for illustrative purposes.

Zev Werzberger is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in Flatbush. He specializes in working with parents and children, improving relationships, modifying challenging behavior, and developing healthier marriages. Zev can be reached at zevwerzberger Winter 2017-2018



Hurry up and wait...

Compiled By Esther Novak


he familiar phrase “hurry up and wait” may have originated in the military in the 1940s. The concept refers to a situation in which one is forced to hurry in order to complete a task or arrive at a destination by a specified time; only for nothing to happen at that time. The delays result because other required tasks are still awaiting completion. When it comes to our battle as parents to obtain appropriate special education for our children, we are often put into the “hurry up and wait” predicament. The IDEA, the Federal Special Education Law mandates the Committee on Special Education (CSE) has 60 business days from referral or reopening your child’s case to conduct evaluations, convene an IEP or IESP meeting and make a recommendation. When your child is in need of services and struggling in school academically, socially and emotionally, 60 business days sounds like an awful lot of time to wait to obtain services. The reality is that unfortunately that it can actually take significantly longer than 60 business days for your child to actually receive the services they so desperately need. The following scenario really occurred: At parent-teacher conferences at the end of November, the parent, we’ll call her Mrs. Smith, was told by her child’s teacher that her son, Joey, is having a lot of difficulty keeping up with 2nd grade reading and math curriculum and is need of academic support. The teacher suggested that the parent open a case with the Committee on Special Education (CSE) to request 32

Winter 2017-2018

Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS). The parent wrote a letter to the CSE opening a case in the last week of November. The CSE contacted the parent and conducted a social history within two weeks. The social worker gave the parents a medical form and a form for the teacher to complete. Due to the DOE’s December holiday schedule, a psychoeducational evaluation could not be scheduled till the middle of January. The CSE contacted the parents the 2nd week of February to let them know that their child’s IEP meeting would take place two weeks later. The CSE convened a meeting. The CSE reviewed the student’s evaluation. It appeared that much of Joey’s difficulty was in the area of language processing. He also had pragmatic language delays and misinterpreted social cues. The parent asked the CSE if they could give their son some speech therapy. The CSE told the parent that they would first need a speech evaluation. They would first need to complete this IEP and then the parent can send a letter reopening the case and requesting a speech evaluation. The CSE created an IESP with 5 periods of SETSS/ P3 services. The IEP was mailed to the Smiths a month later, at the end of February, along with a link to a list of hundreds of names of SETSS teachers. After making numerous calls on the list as well as calling Joey’s school to ask if they know a SETSS provider for him, it became apparent that the SETSS teachers were either all unavailable or were unavailable at the antiquated SETSS rate of $41.98 per hour. So

Mother in

the Shoe

after all that, Joey still did not receive the help he needed for the duration of the school year. After Pesach break in April, the parent contacted the CSE regarding the speech evaluation. They were told that they would have to wait for the CSE to contract an evaluator. The evaluator called the parents and set up an appointment for the second week in May. An IEP meeting was convened at the end of June, just a week after the school year ended. Joey’s teacher was not available to participate. School had just ended and she was away on vacation. The CSE team agreed that the student is in need of speech and language but approved 2 x30 minutes, 1:1 per week. Since the services were mandated for 10 months a year, and the school year was already over, Joey would not receive speech services till September. All summer the parent searched for a SETSS provider but could only find enhanced rate providers. In September, Joey entered 3rd grade with an IEP but still no support. Two weeks into the school year, the parent called the CSE to ask for an RSA for speech but was told that speech had been contracted out to an agency. The agency had no

Where Do You Take Your Nap On Shabbos Afternoon? Yehuda Minchenberg

irstly, one should be grateful that they can nap F on Shabbos afternoon. It is only because some wonderful boys come to our house for an hour after the

meal that we are even afforded such an opportunity. That being said, I have learned from my mistakes of the past. Allow me to explain. I used to think that the boys being in the house meant that I was free to go to my room and take a nap until our kids came upstairs to signify that the boys had left. This worked well for a while until I came down from one such restful hour and found that the kitchen had been ransacked. It appeared that while the boys were busy entertaining most of the children, one very quiet and hungry autistic teenager decided to have a little Shabbos party by taking whatever was not nailed down and trying to eat it within an hour’s time. At one point in our lives, this would not have been possible since we had a lock for our kitchen (specifically to avoid such a scenario). However, it kept being broken by very resourceful and hungry children that we finally gave up on that. So, we got locks for the pantry doors and locks for the cabinets. That led to our son ransacking the knapsacks of Mother in the Shoe Continued from Previous Page… speech therapists available to work with Joey but would not release the RSA because they might find one. The parent called again at the end of September only to be told that the case was send to a second contracted agency. It was now October and Joey


children who had not cleaned out their bags from Friday and eating 24+ hour leftovers of school lunch and snacks. So, we decided to leave out healthy alternatives so that he could get his fix of snacking without us worrying about what was being eaten. That worked great until too many carrots were eaten and they all came out at Shalosh Seudos all over the floor and then again in shul at Maariv (after we had thought that there was nothing else left to come up!). The only foolproof idea seemed to be to have a guard in the kitchen to make sure that nothing was eaten without supervision. And that is how it came to pass that I now spend my Shabbos afternoon nap in the kitchen. With a pillow for the head, it is not nearly as uncomfortable as it sounds. And it is extremely effective. No one wants to be that child who woke up their parent who was trying to take his Shabbos afternoon nap on the kitchen floor! When I mentioned this, in passing, to someone and they expressed incredulity, I asked them innocently, “why, where do you sleep on Shabbos afternoon?” We both walked away from that conversation not understanding the other one’s way of life…

was struggling in school. The parent found an enhanced rate SETSS teacher and requested an Impartial Hearing. Eventually an RSA was released and Joey finally received his speech therapy in the middle of November. The hearing settled several months later. Three weeks after Joey began

For more family support Find us on

receiving all of his services, Mrs. Smith was contacted by the CSE and told that it was annual review time. Could she please obtain progress reports from the SETSS and Speech providers for the annual review, and could she please get the information quickly so they can hold the CSE meeting on schedule…

: Building Blocks Magazine Winter 2017-2018


Our Bar Mitzva Celebration


Nechama Spero

(Adapted from the speech at the Bar mitzvah party of her autistic son, Sholom) ife is full of milestones. Some are considered routine and expected. Others, are exceptionally unique. Shalom’s 3rd birthday celebration was difficult and made his differences clear. His 5th birthday brought the diagnosis and clarity we could not ignore. Setting our goals and expectations along a different path than our dreams. Baruch Hashem, we can recognize and acknowledge his strengths and abilities. His verbal and social skills have markedly improved and we celebrate that today. Shalom has been seeking social interactions and enjoys spending time with people. Though only on his terms, his vocal, rhythmic, and dancing talents are a sight to be seen. Shalom’s Bubby has a gift she makes for all her grandsons, a needlepoint personalized tefillin bag. When she presented us with Shalom’s, I tucked it away and tried not to think about it. Were we buying him


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Winter 2017-2018

tefilin? Will he chew on the leather? By his 12th birthday, we sat with Da’as Torah to gain clarity on the meaning of Shalom’s Bar Mitzva. As parents, the onus is usually to provide education and instruction on Jewish law and Torah. What is required of us and him? While the answer we got lifted a huge burden, it was also crushing and saddening. Tzvi argues with me that today’s event should be called Shalom’s bar mitzvah, but I can’t. Shalom is absolved of those responsibilities. Hashem has put him here on Earth, with us, for a different purpose. While I can’t possibly presume to know what that purpose is, I can conclude that it is all about the people around him. Since birth, Shalom makes an impact and impression on everyone he meets. His pure joy of life is evident and contagious. His natural politeness and extreme honesty can be almost humorous. Any person who meets him adores him in some way. Touching people is his mission. He touches us, his family, on a daily basis. Some people he interacts with regularly are Zoe and Josh. Zoe is my Godsend for the last 9 years. She keeps my house standing and my children wearing clean clothes and eating breakfast and dinner. Zoe has enabled us to function and me to maintain my busy work schedule. She puts up with incredible challenges- physical and emotional- and we value her beyond words. Josh is Shalom’s big brother for a few years now and their relationship has grown tremendously. He assists us with evening and Sunday hours and guiding Shalom through homework and community interactions. I would like to thank Josh for all his time and patience and helping Shalom write his speech for tonight so that it Is a surprise for me to hear.

‫עזרי יבוא מאין‬



Nechumelle Jacobs I have cerebral palsy and I am 32 years old. Baruch HaShem, 3 years ago I got married. Since both my husband and I are disabled, we live in the Fradel Lodge in Schonfeld Square, England which is an old age home with accommodations for us.


ecause I have a disability, Lots of things are hard for me. No matter what I try to do, My body never has a clue. Yet I manage to get through life each day, Even though my difficulties forever stay. Yes, life for me is more difficult than most, But of my stamina I should not boast. For really I am no stronger than you, Hashem just gave me a different job to do. Hashem gave me the capability, For the life that He chose for me. We can learn this from Avrohom and Sarah his wife, When Avraham was told to kill Yitzchok with a knife. He stopped just before his son he did kill,

Our Bar Mitzvah Celebration Continued from Previous Page… While there are so many cliches and trite comments people make about families with special needs children, in truth, we are different, because of Shalom. His siblings have a sensitivity and understanding for the atypical people around them. They befriend those who others shun and exhibit a sincere patience and care for them. So why give him a set of tefillin? Why hire a special and talented sofer? Why have this celebration at all? Tzvi will agree with me, it’s really for us. Shalom couldn’t care less. He just wants a Barney DVD for his 13th birthday and his usual plate of french fries for dinner. We are here to try to feel normal, and because we love an excuse for a party. If we couldn’t double this event as Meir’s upsherin, I am not sure it would be as big as it is. You are here for us as well. While

Because that, in essence was Hashem’s will. The Satan told Sarah what happened to Yitzchok her son, And she died from the shock of what she thought was done. Avraham was able this final nisayon to withstand, Because he was given the strength as part of the Master’s plan. “But Avraham’s test was harder?” you may ask, Yet he could cope as he was equipped for this task. Yes, I do have a more difficult life, it is true But Hashem is not asking that of you. Therefore to cope, Hashem gave me the tools I need, For each person’s problems, he will help them succeed. I write poetry, which I find very therapeutic. Many of my poems have been published in international papers. Besides for the other positive outgrowths of my writing, it is important for everyone to realize that: Yes! Disabled people have their talents too. I am happy to be contacted via email at

all of you know about Shalom, and some may even know him well, he isn’t really impacted by your presence here. Tzvi and I and Chevie and Aliza are. This is our family event and as a community of people who care about each other, we join together to share our celebrations and tragedies. Recently I met up with too many acquaintances at sad events and made the decision to take this happy time and make it into something huge. So, this is not a typical bar mitzvah celebration, nore a simple upsherin party. We are here to recognize Shalom for the milestones he has reached and progress he has made. To celebrate the fact he is part of our lives and we are part of his. To reflect on the presence he has and the powerful impact he has on us. While his future and limits are still unknown, I reserve the wishes and hopes that he will lead a productive life in society. We have no idea

what shape that life will take, but we will continue to provide him with the best services and support possible to maximize his potential. And we will continue to call upon you all, our family, friends, and community, to support us and more than tolerate, but celebrate his differences as the way Hashem chose to create him. I just want to make one more point. Since this weekend and simcha celebration began, people have been complimenting tzvi and me and making us out to be more than typical people. But this isn’t true, nor fair to everyone else. Every person here fights their battles and moves heaven and earth to do whatever they can. Each of you are heroes and deserve to celebrate your milestone and accomplishments along the way. We thank you for joining us for this unique simcha, and we look forward to celebrating your simchas soon. Winter 2017-2018


Products Showcase


Weighted Blankets

eighted blankets are one of the most versatile and comforting items for both children and adults. Weighted blankets are blankets with various measures of weights inside them, providing a deep and constant pressure to its user. The child or adult who craves deep pressure, or needs a way to calm down from feeling overstimulated by their environment, can utilize a weighted blanket to do just that. By providing evenly distributed pressure throughout the body, or

A safe and effective non-drug therapy for anyone seeking a solution for loss of sleep and relaxation.

Weighted blankets help children, teens, and adults who struggle with ADHD, anxiety, insomnia, and stress.




Winter 2017-2018


just for a specific area, weighted blankets can quickly and effectively help children and adults regulate their sensory needs. The versatility of the weights used depends on the company and style of the balnket. Some companies provide ways for the user to add weighted material as needed to increase the deep pressure provided. Other companies, seal the weights inside the blanket, but provide texture, or various lengths to accommodate individual sensory needs.

The Magic Weighted Blanket

he Magic Weighted Blanket is a weighted blanket with the weights sealed inside a chenille material. (Think of the feel of a plush stuffed animal and shearling fur combined.) This blanket is perfect for the individual who craves a soft plush texture, but requires weights to evenly distribute deep pressure input throughout the body. This

Made in the USA

Yitty Rimmer

blanket is so moveable and versatile, that it is perfect for wrapping an individual in, no matter what position they put themselves. The blanket while weighted, is still portable and light enough to travel comfortably with. It also comes in lengths suitable for older children, teenagers, and adults to use.

Price: $169.00

Sensa Calm Weighted Blanket

ensa Calm is another weighted blanket option. Sensa Calm can be custom made to fit the individual needs of any child or adult. Each blanket is custom made to provide the necessary length, weight, and color preference to accommodate the individual. These blankets are also designed in a square quilting pattern, which keep the weights from bunching and sliding, making for an even weight distribution while the blanket is used. The quilting pattern also lends itself to a plush

comforter feel. This even weight distribution makes it ideal for use at night to help individuals who need constant deep pressure to fall and stay asleep. This blanket is portable, and easily rolls up and folds for storage. Additionally, this blanket is designed to be used with or without a duvet cover. This contributes to better cleanliness, and makes it perfect for individuals allergic to dust mites.

Price: $159.95

Therapeutic Benefits:  Increases proprioceptive, deep pressure input to the user  Provides a calming tool that is portable and versatile

Products Showcase



May 1–4, 2018


Kinnebar 100/200

o you have a child who is restless, fidgety, anxious, or has difficulty Great Speakers. Great Learning. focusing? Does your child need to move in order to help him pay Essential Topics in attention in class, or while doing homework? Now your child can focus Early Childhood Development. more easily, find an outlet for his restlessness, decrease his fidgety behavior • Over 100 Speakers and his anxiety. All you need is the Kinnebar, a foot swing that fits easily • More than 80 Conference Sessions under any student desk. Attach the hook and loop straps to each leg of • Pre-Conference Workshop this bar, and your child can quietly swing his feet during class to help him • 40 Exhibitors & Over 1,000 Attendees pay attention and focus better, as well as have the ability to stay in his seat Great training for all professionals during class time for longer periods. working with all young children (typically developing & autism/special needs) Kinnebar is a great solution for high energy children in the classroom including Teachers, Special Ed Teachers, to help them exert their energy in a productive manner. Kinnebar helps Psychologists, SWS, Speech Therapists, children work faster by giving them an outlet to move even when having OT, PT, ABA Providers, Program Directors/ Principals/Administrators, Pediatricians, to stay seated. Kinnebar is a great teacher’s aide, providing children with and Child Care Professionals. sensory redirection, allowing children to focus better and allowing the teacher the ability to teach with less distracted classroom behaviors. To register go to: Kinnebar can be adjusted both in position and height, making it ideal for or call 212-787-9700, ext. 333 long term use as a child grows, as well as in different settings. Early Bird & Group Discounts Available Therapeutic Benefits: Presented by  Increases a child’s ability to process sensory stimuli through movement  Helps children focus and organize themselves through movement 2018-BUILDINGBLOCKS-1/4-page-.06.17.v1.indd 1 9/5/17 11:31 AM  Improves behavior in the classroom

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Winter 2017-2018


Products Showcase Book Reviews The Social Times Author: Kari Dunn Buron Publisher: AAPC Publishing Website: Year: 2017

Tzivia Stienhardt

Homework for each chapter is included in order to help reinforce the information and put it into practice. All in all, The Social Times is an incredibly thoughtful and certainly useful curriculum to teach children with autism or social disabilities to understand social situations and the appropriate he Social Times is a grade 3-10 curriculum designed responses to them. specifically for children with autism. It addresses Tikko Travels: Dorian’s Story and explains social skills and cues, so they no longer Author: Christine Frances Poe have to feel confused by social situations that other Illustrator: Jean Wilson children seem to implicitly know how to navigate. Publisher: Christine Frances Poe It’s an engaging, colorful curriculum book, which Website: Year: 2017 helps to avoid the boredom that a regular textbook or ikko Travels is an inspiring workbook tends to inspire in children. In order to fully story, written for children, help children with autism, the curriculum teaches all describing the author’s son, sorts of skills such as understanding social situations, Dorian, and how he started an Autism Awareness viewing and understanding issues from other people’s campaign, entitled “Tikko TravelsTM.” This book point of view, controlling their emotions, and explains autism to children in an informative and understanding both themselves and other people. engaging manner. It encourages children not to look The curriculum is set in a predictable pattern in down on or be frightened by people who act in ways order to make it easier for children to learn unfamiliar they don’t understand. Dorian’s mother, Christine material that may be hard for them to understand. Frances Poe addresses topics such as how situations At the start of each of the 25 chapters, there is a 2 might feel for someone with autism, as well as people’s page segment called “The Main Event.” Each of these typical reactions to them, without glossing over describes a specific social topic, such as handling anything for her young audience. disappointments or problem solving. It then states The illustrations are beautiful and enhance the exactly what such a situation entails, why it’s important book’s message, especially the first picture, featuring a to work through it, and tips for how to navigate such pink tree standing out amidst a bunch of green ones. circumstances. Though it doesn’t blend in, the tree draws attention in The next section is called “I Second That Emotion!” a positive light. It looks far more beautiful than the rest This section uses a five point scale to explain the rather than out of place, as one might think it would. different levels of a social or emotional idea, giving the The image illustrates, for both children and adults that child a clear understanding of the different levels of a being different is okay. It conveys the message that situation or emotion from best to worst case scenario. people who are different have their own beauty. They It is then followed by a section called “Coming to may not be conventional, but nevertheless have the Our Senses,” in which a sensory issue is addressed power to enhance the world. with advice on how to deal with it. After that comes This message is entirely true for Dorian, who has “Gets-It Knows!” In this section, children read a letter autism and proved that everyone has the power addressing a social problem along with a response. to change the world for the better. Dorian’s story is The last section, “Something to Talk About,” contains especially encouraging to children, who will realize true, relatable stories from the author’s family. These that even a child, no matter what their situation is, can are specifically chosen and placed in the curriculum make a difference. Actual pictures of Tikko’s journeys in order to help children build empathy. worldwide proves to children just how much of a In order to maintain interest, there are cartoons difference one boy can make. as well as trivia interspersed throughout the book.




Winter 2017-2018

My Second Year of Kindergarten Author: Rebecca Eisenberg Illustrator: Andrea Alemanno Publisher: Mascot Books E-mail: Year: 2017 y second year of kindergarten by Rebecca Eisenberg is an adorable book. Geared towards children who, for whatever reason, are repeating kindergarten, this book deals with a very sensitive subject in the most brilliant way possible. Rather than focus on all the reasons why a child may not be able to advance to the next grade, the book instead chooses to highlight all the pros of repeating the grade, showing children that this isn’t a punishment or something to be embarrassed about. The wonderfully eye catching illustrations by Andrea Alemanno are sure to pull children into the story and keep their attention long enough to let the overall message sink in. In the back, the book includes tips for parents on how to decide whether or not to hold your child back a year, how to tell your child, and how to go about preparing them for the upcoming school year. The intended audience includes parents who have children repeating kindergarten, children with special needs (specifically those with ADHD or reading disabilities), teachers who teach preschool and the early elementary years, and therapists. Additionally the book is written in the dyslexia font, a specialized font meant to be user friendly to those with dyslexia.


The Journey of Special Education: Informational Posts to Get You Through Author: Nicole Bovell, Ed.S. Publisher: Independently Published Website: Year: 2017 he Journey of Special Education: Informational Posts to Get You Through, by Nicole Bovell, Ed.S, is a must read for any parent of a child with special needs, especially if they are new to the special education system. Though the system can be overwhelming and tricky at first, Bovell compiled an extensive guide with everything you need to know. She informs parents of all of options and gives the


pros and cons of each choice without telling you which to choose, allowing you to make your own, informed decisions based on what best suits both you and your child’s needs. The book covers everything within its 6 sections, The World of Advocacy, Know Your IEPs, Special Needs Children and Behavior, In the Classroom, Planning for Your Child’s Future, and Real Life, and also included definitions of all terms in the appendix in the back. Each chapter answers any questions that can possibly arise in each situation in addition to the special sections dedicated to important information that you should remember. If you are confused about the system or want help navigating it in order to stay on top of your child’s care, you should really buy this book or at least give it a thorough read through. It is brilliant, thoughtful, and incredibly useful. How to Have a Great School Year: A Guide for Special Needs Parents Author: Nicole Bovell, Ed.S. Publisher: Independently Published Website: Year: 2017 ow to Have a Great School Year: A Guide for Special Needs Parents, by Nicole Bovell, Ed.S, is quite similar to her other book, The Journey of Special Education: Informational Posts to Get You Through. This book however is meant as “a quick and easy reference for special needs parents” which explains it’s considerably shorter length. Using the same structure and format as the previous book, this book focuses entirely on helping you and your child with the intention of helping both of you get through the school year with the least amount of stress as possible. The book is split into three different sections, each pertaining to a specific part of the school year, the beginning of the year, the middle, and the end. Much like her other book, Bovell used these different sections in order to focus on specific problems and concerns as well as make it easy for parents to find what they need. This well-organized book is both smaller and thinner than Bovell’s previous book, which makes it easier to carry with you, but is by no means less informative. It contains everything you need to know and more.


Winter 2017-2018



inder Tutors is the premier tutoring agency serving the nationwide community of Jewish students in grades K-12 in all General and Judaic subjects. Our mission is to provide a diverse nationwide network of experienced educators who are familiar with a dual education system to serve our clients in all General and Judaic subjects. Tutoring sessions are available in various platforms, including in person and online.  Kinder Tutors also offers academic and behavior consulting with a licensed School Psychologist. We specialize in assisting yeshivas and day schools across the country with our School Part-


Kinder Tutors

nership Program to connect students and quality educators. Our nationwide network features educators from a broad spectrum of educational and professional backgrounds to best serve the unique and varied needs of our clients. To maintain our commitment to safety, sensitivity and satisfaction, all tutors complete an application and screening process including a background check. At Kinder Tutors, we provide individualized attention to each child and help promote academic and emotional growth through personalized sessions. Whether your child needs assistance in reading, writing, math-

ematics, science, Tanach or Kriah, our tutors are standing by and available for appointments. Parents can search, view, select and book a tutor who meets their criteria on our website in just a few simple steps. Our “On the Mark Guarantee” ensures that every parent and student is happy and satisfied! Visit us at www.kindertutors. com or call us at 321-GO-LEARN. For other inquiries or for more information about the School Partnership Program email us at If you are interested in joining our network of tutors email us at

Yeshivot serving the families of Great Neck. Inclusivity is the core of the Meorot program. To provide our students with a strong Jewish identity, our program focuses on Judaic studies and culture with an emphasis on Hebrew language, reading and comprehension as well as Chumash, Tefillah and Chagim. We also provide students with the opportunity to experience similar milestones as their peers in Yeshiva day schools. For example, our students have the opportunity to participate in Siddur and Chumash Celebrations. By partnering with our local Yeshivot, our students can participate in

extracurricular programs, allowing them to develop important relationships with their peers at those Yeshivot. Finally, by bringing students together, Meorot cultivates selfconfidence and a proud Jewish identity for its students within the Great Neck Jewish community. Meorot is currently accepting rolling admissions for grades K-3; classes will be capped at 12 students. ​ For a list of supporting Yeshivot and admission guidelines, please visit For more information, please contact Meorot Director, Rabbi Bradley Hercman, at or 516.415.2551

Meorot- A New Innovative Special Education Judaic Program Opens Its Doors

uided by the philosophy that a premiere Jewish education should be accessible to learners of all types, Meorot proudly opened its doors to its first class in September 2017. Meorot is an innovative after school program providing students who have learning or language difficulties with an inspired Modern Orthodox Jewish education within a supportive environment. Many of Meorot students attend public school during the day, because of their learning needs and join Meorot classes twice weekly in the afternoons. Meorot is located at North Shore Hebrew Academy and is a community partnership between the local

For more event information 40

Winter 2017-2018

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: Building Blocks Magazine

From Our Side of the Table Juby Shapiro, Parent and Advocate


hen I think about it, I find it hard to believe that it is 22 years since my son transitioned from preschool to the CSECommittee on Special Education. When my son was turning five, I was contacted by the CSE and an IEP meeting was scheduled. At the meeting, there was a psychologist, a special education teacher, and a parent member. I remember it was a bit overwhelming. We began to discuss my son’s needs and I realized that none of the team members had ever met him. In the end the team recommended a public school placement. As it turned out, the placement was not appropriate. Furthermore, my son could not receive his related services he so desperately needed because the school did not have therapy rooms. The CSE told me they would issue RSAs (Related Service Authorizations) for the therapies. The problem was they told me this in October and the RSAs were not issued till December. I could not locate available therapists and my son regressed in many areas. It was around that time, I was learning about advocacy and the IDEA and that parents have rights and our children with educational disabilities are guaranteed a FAPEFree and Appropriate Public Education. When the system does not offer a FAPE to students, parents don’t have to agree to an inappropriate education program for their child. As an advocate, I have attended many IEP meetings, some positive

and some contentious. In my son’s case, I took the CSE to an Impartial Hearing and after 4-5 days of hearings, we won compensatory related services- make up sessions for all the therapy missed. I was able to locate a school on the New York State Approved List and found out that the CSE was late to offer my son a placement. The CSE had never told me about the option

of a school on the New York State Approved List. Aaron was accepted to HASC and remained there till he graduated. I did not have another contentious IEP meeting till a year before my son was due to age out. We’ll call it the system’s parting gift. Without any new evaluations the team reduced his therapies by half. My son’s teacher and I disagreed. We explained reducing services would likely result in regression. I requested an Impartial Hearing asking for a pendency order so that my son’s services would not be reduced in the interim while the case was ongoing. The CSE ended up settling with me at a resolution meeting and restored all of my son’s services. At my son’s last IEP meeting, the following year, I

thanked the CSE for their years of service to my child. I believe that it is very important to always be courteous even when you disagree and thank the CSE team members when they are helpful. As both a parent and advocate, I truly believe in educating and empowering parents. The process may seem overwhelming, but it is important to bear in mind that: ➊ Parents do have rights and we do not have to accept an IEP or placement that we disagree with. ➋ While some issues can be resolved at the IEP meeting, there are many issues that cannot be resolved at that level and may be resolved at an Impartial Hearing, mediation or resolution meeting prior to an Impartial Hearing. It is important to go into the meeting understanding what the IEP team can and cannot do on their level. ➌ Requesting an Impartial Hearing does not need to be an adversarial process. If you disagree with the CSE team at your child’s IEP meeting, tell them politely that you agree to disagree and then request an Impartial Hearing. Remembering these points may help to make the process less frustrating for parents and caregivers. Juby Shapiro is a special education advocate who represents parents at IEP meetings and Impartial Hearings. Juby is the founder and director of TAFKID, an organization providing support services, information, advocacy and referral services to families whose children have been diagnosed with disabilities. She is the mother of two adult children with special needs who are the inspiration for her work. Winter 2017-2018


Building Blocks Service Marketplace ADVOCACY

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


Hand in Hand Family Services 390 Kings Hwy, F11, Brooklyn 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.

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

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.


Winter 2017-2018

The Jewish Board/ Mishkon 1358 56th Street Brooklyn, NY 11219 718-851-7100 • The Jewish Board/Mishkon offers group homes for children and adults throughtout Brooklyn, New York. We have a home and community based department that offers Medicaid Service Coordination, Community Habilitation, Respite and camp Reimbursement Scholarship. OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services 4510 16th Avenue, Bklyn., 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.



Camp HASC and Camp After Camp 1221 E 14th St. • Brooklyn, NY 11230 718 535-1953 • Camp HASC is a 6 week sleep away camp program for ages 5-21 located in beautiful Upstate New York. Camp After Camp is a one week sleep away program in August for girls ages 5-21 located at the same campus in Upstate. Campers are assigned one on one staff to enhance the camping experience while providing

much needed respite to families of the campers.


HASC Center Family Support Network 1221 E 14th St. • Brooklyn, NY 11230 718-535-1953 • HASC Center Family Support Programs Offers individual mentoring and support groups for families with children and adults with intellectual Disabilities , Sibling Workshops, Parents Support meetings, and Retreat Events for Mothers where they have the opportunity to gain support and strength to meet their challenge.


Lucky & Me Super Soft Comfy Underwear


Challenge Early Intervention Center Exec. Office: 649 39th St, Brooklyn Queens Office: 72-38 Main Street Staten Island Office: 1911 Richmond Ave, Staten Island 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.

HTA of New York 4222 Avenue P, Brooklyn, NY 11234 914-674-0733, 845-638-3072, 212-732-5427, 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.

Building Blocks Service Marketplace 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.

In one unique event, this conference integrates learning about typically developing children as well as those with special needs, including autism.




Hamaspik SEMP 718-387-8400 • A vocational program that helps individuals with special-needs obtain and maintain a job through teaching, training, coaching and employment counseling. OHEL Children’s Home & Family Services 4510 16th Avenue, Brooklyn 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.


Abilities Expo Provides demonstrations and information pertaining to physical handicaps, including the latest products and assistance animals. Events throughout the US. 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.

EXTRA CURRICULAR Co/Lab Theater Group Theater arts for Individuals with developmental disabilities

INC. DAY-HAB, COMM-HAB RESPITE… Hamaspik of Kings OPWDD Waiver 718-408-5400 Program of support and services that enable adults and children with developmental disabilities to live In the community. Services Include community habilitation, In-home respite, and day habilitation for adults, family reimbursement and Independent living for adults. Servicing the Brooklyn, Queens and Five Towns area.

Hand in Hand Family Services 390 Kings Hwy, F11, Brooklyn 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 718-535-1953 • Providing Service coordination, afterschool children’s respite, Sunday autism program for children, individualized athome habilitation, summer camp-aftercamp for girls, 24/7 respite for children, residential homes, Yeshiva day habilitation, Bnos day habilitation, vocational placement program, supported employment, Blanche Kahn Medical Center.

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



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 Services

Serving The greaTer MeTropoliTan area Winter 2017-2018


Building Blocks Service Marketplace Human Care Services for Families and Children, Inc. 1042 38 Street, Brooklyn, NY 11219 718-854-2747 Human Care Services for Families and Children, Inc-Where we really do care! Families are carefully guided through the process of applying for OPWDD eligibility and services. A Service Coordinator serves as the individual and family’s mentor to help access all the services and supports needed to help enhance quality of life. HCS offers Service Coordination, Community Habilitation, Respite, Day Habilitation, Behavior Management, Family Reimbursement, among many other programs and benefits. Special Care for Families and Children's Services 1421 East 2nd St., Bklyn., NY 11230 718-252-3365 x105 Provides Community Habilitation, Day Habilitation, Respite, Service Coordination, Family Support Services for Individuals with developmental and Intellectual disabilities. Caring and dedTAFKID icated staff work with each Individual assists families whose children to facilitate growth and Idependence have been diagnosed with a variety of disabilities and special needs. through an array of programs and activities to achieve success and reach Services provided by TAFKID include: Client File Name: therapy in motion bc their full potential. D Family Support Services & Information Date:

D Educational Advocacy Artist: D Individual Case Consultation Proofreader: SalesTherapists, Person: D Referrals to Doctors,

B&W PDF: Yq Schools and Government Programs

D Parent Matching Color PDF: Yq 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:


Winter 2017-2018

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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. Makor Disability Services/ Womens’s League Community ,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.


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 internetfree 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.


Adaptive Clothing Showroom 877-222-1055 Large selection of clothing & accessories for Special Needs Children & Adults. Autism Childproof-Resistance Lock Your child can unlock the door and be gone. Without you knowing. Then you need this Lock. See video at: Kinder Lift Denver, CO • 303-898-2242 For kids who need a helping hand Mobility Lifter 615-530-1374 • Outdoor-indoor portable stair climber. No home modifications needed. Mosaic Weighted Blankets 512-567-8943 A safe and effective non-drug therapy for anyone seeking a solution for loss of sleep and relaxation. Weighted blankets help children , teens, and adult who struggle with ADHD, anxiety, Insomnia, and stress. Nuvotrike 347-620-1234 • Great for Individuals of many abilitiy levels. Unique patented suspension, Easy Coasting, Easy to store and accessible for many ages & sizes

Building Blocks Service Marketplace Salt of the Earth Weighted Gear 402-366-5883-Ask for Annie Weighted Blankets , Weighted Vests&More A Little Pressure- Better Than Medicine! Speech Pathology Associates, LLC 207-741-2443 • ZEGO www. Contains: Peace of Mind. Looking for Super clean nutrition bars your kids will love? Vegan and Paleo friendly




Kew Gardens SEP 159-16 Union Tpk, Fresh Meadows, NY 718-263-KIDS (5437) Serves ages 3-5 (CPSE). Provides OT, PT, Special Ed, SLP, SEIT & Counseling. Assists with all steps of the process. Machon Lev Seminary 718-854-2747 ext. 210 Your Mainstreamed Daughter can go to seminary. Courses Include: Limudi Kodesh,Computers/Graphic Design, Swimming/Physical education, Financial management skills, Art , Hair and Wig design and much more. Ohr Dovid (formerly Haor the Beacon School) 2884 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn 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 Habir 718-303-9123 A special program for bachurim 18 and above with mild challenges. Expert Mechanchim, Social and Daily living skills, Excersise, english and computer classes The Girls’ Program 718-336-5296 Ages 5-12 years old Is your daughter comfortable In her school setting? struggling In her large class enviorment? In need of mor Indi-


vidualized attention? Small classes, N.Y State Core Standard, on-Site Therapy Services and Social Skills Training. Yad Yisroel 718-650-6400 The School for Exceptional Children Small Classes with 1:1 support for boys and girls ages 5-21 offering Individualized ABA Curricula Onsite music, animal, & aquatic therapy. 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.

SUPPORT GROUPS Alzheimer's Caregivers The Alzheimer's Portable Door Lock will keep your patient safe Inside the house. Lock will travel with You and patient. No wonder worries. Easy to attach and remove from door. See Video at: Hand in Hand Family Services 390 Kings Hwy, F11, Brooklyn 718.336.6073 • Hand in Hand offers a full range of personalized services and support to developmentally disabled children and adults and their families.

THERAPY & EVALUATION CENTER Hand in Hand Family Services 390 Kings Hwy, F11, Brooklyn 718-336-6073 • Hand in Hand offers a full range of personalized services and support to developmentally disabled children and adults and their families.

Winter 2017-2018


• In Memoriam • In Memoriam • In Memoriam • In Memoriam •

An Architect for Change M

r. Asher Fogel, COO of OHEL Bais Ezra, was a luminary and innovator in his field of work. With an all-encompassing vision of integration, he left families “who would otherwise be anxious and unsure about what the future will hold for their child or sibling, with greater menucha, greater assurance and peace of mind,” says David Mandel, CEO of OHEL. After receiving a degree in psychology from Fordham University, Mr. Fogel worked for many New York state institutions, including the infamous Willowbrook Institution in Staten Island. There, where patients were intentionally cast away from society and living in incredibly inhumane conditions, Mr. Fogel was taking notes on how to improve: “Group homes today are what they are because my father reformed the standard of what a group home should be,” says Shainy Schloss, the seventh of Fogel’s 10 children. Fogel’s work towards integration was geared towards eradicating the stigma and consequential communal neglect of those with disabilities: “Asher saw Willowbrook up close and personal. It made him driven to grow a healthy Jewish agency that helped people in a dignified way, and integrated them into the community,” says Rochel Lewitter, Director of OHEL Bais Ezra. Leading to Change In 1989, Fogel became the clinical director at OHEL Bais Ezra, and later, Chief Operating Officer, overseeing the entire day-to-day operation of the mental health divisions, and worked on developing many of the housing programs. Mr. Fogel was also president of ACN: together with leaders of other organizations, he worked to ensure that people with disabilities would continue to get the services 46

Winter 2017-2018

Tiferet Schafler they needed, despite changes with Medicaid that threatened their level of accessibility. “Asher had a planned vision to integrate people with disabilities into their respective communities,” explains Katz. “First, move members into group homes, but mainly, have them live in a home, on a block, just like you and me, and fit into a neighborhood. He aimed to break down levels of stigma, and normalize disabilities.” “Asher was responsible for expanding various programs in OHEL Bais Ezra,” says Lewitter. “Under Asher’s leadership we started the OMH PROS Program, a day program for people in recovery from mental illness. He helped expand and quadruple our residential department and the number of residential beds for people with mental illness.” The New Normal In 2004, OHEL Bais Ezra created a program that enabled members to live semi-independently in their community, as opposed to a residence with 24-hour watch. “They go out to work, they’re involved in their communities. One of our participant’s apartments even hosted a womens’ tehillim group,” says Hecht. “This program happened because of Asher’s push.” Under Fogel’s directive, many recreational programs were initiated and maintained. “Asher was insistent that our kids were going to all the same venues as everyone else,” says Hecht. “ On Chol hamoed, our kids were going skating, going to Hershey park, going to shul; he loved the fact that our kids were in the communities.” “I called Mr. Fogel my M’chutin; he, my wife and I were partners in raising my children in OHEL,” said Rabbi Yaakov Reisman, previous rabbi emer-

itus of Agudath Israel of Long Island and parent of adults in the Lawrence OHEL residence. “My boys started getting invitations to Chanukah parties. They’re on a first name basis with the whole block,” says Reisman. Asher’s vision to remove stigmas and boundaries extended towards the summertime as well: “Years ago we ran bunks with our participants in some of the typical camps. This was Asher’s innovation in OHEL,” says Hecht. When the idea of Camp Kaylie arose, “He was so excited about the prospect for integration during the summer, which is a very social time. He saw how it could provide so much opportunity for normalization,” says Schloss. Asher’s vision of integration extended to medical services: “Not only to design a new line of services for those with special needs, but to integrate medical with those with everyday medical problems,” says Katz. “Asher believed in treating the whole person and wanted to go above and beyond housing, day and community based programs to promote health and wellness.” OHEL’s new Jaffa Family Campus will now feature medical services, “which will be part of Asher’s legacy,” says Katz. “Asher was OHEL’s Robert Moses (designer of many of New York’s greatest architectural landmarks), creating swaths of spaces for people with disabilities to live in, to enjoy their homes, their surroundings and interacting with the world at large,” says Mandel. “Long before it was popularized, Asher worked to normalize disabilities.” Tiferet Schafler is a graduate of SKA High School and is currently a Shana Bet student at Sha’alvim for Women. She writes for the Jewish Press and will be attending Stern College in the Fall.



oldy Gorin, an educational and behavioral consultant for children and families with special needs, and one of the educational directors at Gesher Yehuda, has a strong passion for special education. Choosing a career in special education was a natural progression and a labor of love. She has watched the trends and tides in special education over the past twenty years and has contributed to its development. Goldy began her professional training at the Sara Schenirer Institute, one of the first Jewish programs to offer special education training. Subsequently, she obtained master’s degrees in special education and educational administration. Mrs. Gorin began her professional career in at the P’tach program. She worked in a special education program hosted by the Shulamith elementary school for girls in Brooklyn, and then helped to develop a similar program for boys, Ha’or Beacon School, becoming an expert in social and behavior training. Mrs. Gorin is now a member of the dedicated team of expert professionals and special education teachers at Gesher Yehuda. Gesher, and its high school, Yeshiva Prep, offer the best elements of a community school, with small classes, a personalized focus and a nourishing educational environment. The process at Gesher Yehuda begins with the development of an individualized approach for working with each child, capitalizing on their strengths

in order to compensate for their weaknesses. According to Mrs. Gorin, the key to success is the ability of the teacher to discover which senses and abilities each child has that can be used to substitute or compensate for their missing learning skills. Children with strong visual skills can be taught with the use of pictures. Other children are adept at learning through songs. One child, who had difficulty visualizing and recognizing numbers, celebrated his seventh birthday by positioning his body into the shape of the number 7 on the floor. At Gesher Yehuda, Mrs. Deborah Katz, the principal, superbly leads a multi-disciplinary team of professionals consisting of master teachers, a psychologist, social worker, speech, occupational and physical therapists, as well as reading and other specialists. As necessary, several Gesher Yehuda staff members may work with one child in the classroom simultaneously. The teacher’s task goes far beyond helping their students to master the subjects of the class curriculum. The core of the challenge is to help their student to develop their own personalized strategy for learning that can be repeated and applied to each new situation that the child encounters. That strategy becomes the child’s roadmap for success, a scripted way to approach new problems and challenges. Each learning success paves the way for the next one. Eventually, the child builds their own vocabulary of learning

concepts and techniques that works for them and can be applied to any situation. Mrs. Gorin believes that the tried and true methods of special education still work the best. Yet, appreciates the value of the new technology to amplify and extend the power of traditional techniques. For example, an interactive smartboard can be used to stimulate a students’ interest and provide nearly endless variation of the teaching experience. Another example is the broad range of downloadable audio books. They are useful for working with students who have difficulty developing reading skills by making it possible for them to explore new material, or to have the ability to hear fluent reading. This encourages the students to practice and learn on their own, and at their own pace. But new technology can only supplement the trained skills and natural sensitivities of the master special education teacher. The driving force throughout Mrs. Gorin’s career has been her lifelong dedication to helping each child with learning disabilities find their own personalized pathway to success. She strives to follow the motto of: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” A teacher’s job is to provide children with the necessary skills to become independent and successful members of society. 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. Winter 2017-2018




...AND WE’RE HIRING! The Jewish Board’s Mishkon division is looking for men and women who are passionate about working with and supporting people who have intellectual disabilities.

Our new residences will house 4 women and 4 men in separate Glatt Kosher, Shomer Shabbos apartments.



The Jewish Board is New York City’s largest social services agency and has been supporting the Jewish community for over 140 years. We offer outstanding benefits for full-time staff, including generous paid time off, superior medical/ dental/vision benefits, and retirement plans.


Apply today at Winter 2017-2018

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