Religion & Beliefs

Understanding Disabilities

A while back I did a post about resources for women who’ve had a miscarriage. I linked to books and articles that might be helpful, and in the comments someone asked that I do a similar post for parents of … Read More

By / June 1, 2007

A while back I did a post about resources for women who’ve had a miscarriage. I linked to books and articles that might be helpful, and in the comments someone asked that I do a similar post for parents of Jewish children with disabilities. I’ve been working on gathering resources for awhile now, and I’ve finally got a significant list. A lot of these organizations are localized, because they provide assistance in a literal physical way. If you live in a place that’s farther afield and you’re looking for help it’s worth it to call a local organization even if it's not particularly close.  If you ask, they can probably put you in touch with an appropriate resource closer to home. The biggest online non-Jewish resource for parents of kids with all kinds of disabilities is at Children’s Disabilities Information. The site is poorly designed and kind of ugly, but it’s chock full of links, and generally very helpful. It covers everything from autism to allergies to visial impairment. For more Jewishly-geared resources and links, try to find out if your community has an organization for Jewish family and children services. I know there are branches in most big cities, and you can find a directory of all relevant organizations here. These organizations will be eager to help supply both mental and physical support. Most provide counseling for the whole family, and will help parents negotiate tricky issues like how to handle the Jewish education of a kid with extremely severe learning disabilities. Speaking of Jewish education, I found a website that gives a model for integrating special needs students into Jewish day schools. You can check out Teaching to Diversity: A Model for the Inclusion of Children with Developmental Disabilities in Jewish Day Schools by Beth Jawary here. Google found me a great page full of synagogue resources for understanding and integrating children with disabilities. You can see it here. All three of the major Jewish movements have developed materials for parents of children with disabilities. The Orthodox Union has Yachad, which has everything from its own birthright trip, to social skills training. USCJ has a very extensive website of resources they’ll provide for families with special needs kids. The URJ has a program called Lehiyot devoted to disability awareness and diversity and inclusion. Many cities with a significant number of Jewish day schools have integration programs for children with special needs. In Chicago we have Keshet, which is known for doing a fantastic job. Keshet also pointed me to a great listing of special education resources worldwide, which you can find here. I’ve got a list here of children’s books that can answer lots of questions kids might have about their friends who have special needs, but I’m only going to link to a few since I haven’t read any of them. If you want the whole list, feel free to send me a message and I’d be happy to send it on. Russell Is Extra Special: A Book About Autism for Children by Charles A., III Amenta Mandy by Barbara D. Booth See You Tomorrow, Charles by Miriam Cohen A Smile From Andy and Sarah’s Surprise, both by Nan Holcomb Alex is My Friend by Marisabina Ruso My Sister Is Different by Betty Ren Wright