Advice on Special Education

By Dena Mayerfeld, LDTC on Aug 28, 2015
The monarch butterfly is one example of a species that practices return migration. This process of revisiting a place that one has lived in before is also called homing, according to a Scholastic Science Exploration article. These animals use navigation strategies and prepare for their journey months in advance. Scientists are awed by the skill that these animals display in order to return to exactly the same location year after year.As a parent and educator, I am similarly fascinated by the return of our children to school each year. For some, it is an easy seasonal trip. However, many...
By Rabbi Dr. Yisrael Rothwachs on Aug 27, 2015
Let’s start with the fundamental belief that children with disabilities and special needs should be full members of a larger “mainstream” community.  Although the term “inclusion” means different things to different people, in its purest sense, this is what inclusion is all about.Equality and kindness certainly are prominent values of both American and Jewish cultures.  Yet the truth is that an educational model promoting pure equality, rather than unity, is one that can sometimes force a “square peg into a round hole.”  Viewing inclusion through the lens of equality, educators...
By Diane Robertson on Nov 18, 2014
“Preparation is the key to success.”  We hear this phrase over and over, but it is particularly true for the student with disabilities who is planning to go to college.  In “Planning for College: Eligibility and Access to Disability Services,” published in The Jewish Link on November 6, I discussed the importance of researching the services available at different colleges, and eligibility for and access to these services.  In this article, I will discuss the accommodations that may or may not be available to students with Learning Disabilities (LD) and ADHD.  Colleges...
By Diane Robertson on Nov 10, 2014
Every high schooler finds the adjustment to post-secondary institutions anxiety provoking and full of challenges. But for the student with disabilities, preparation for this next stage in life requires additional consideration and planning. The student who was entitled to certain accommodations and modifications in high school needs to know what rights he or she will have in college and how to access those rights; knowledge and preparation are the keys to success in this transition. Students with disabilities can receive accommodations at college, but students’ IEPs have no legal bearing...
By Shira Greenland Wiesenberg on Sep 1, 2014
With her flowing blond hair, saddle boots, and tattoo, Brooke – a consulting Occupational Therapist – was probably not expecting the challenge I posed to her the day she arrived at our school. “Avi needs your help learning to put on his tefillin,” I said, handing her a mess of boxes and straps that Brooke might have wished came with arrows indicating “This Side Up.” Addressing her unspoken concerns, I continued. “The teacher will show you how they are supposed to go. What we need from you is to figure out why Avi cannot seem to make them work.” For Brooke, this was likely a first. For...
By Rabbi Dr. Yisrael Rothwachs on Jul 24, 2014
Yaakov* started Pre-K at his local yeshiva day school when he was 4 years old, following in his older siblings’ footsteps.  His parents were thrilled with the school, where the opportunities for spiritual, academic and social growth were plentiful and their older children had made lots of friends.  But by the time Yaakov reached Kindergarten, his teachers were concerned.  It was not unusual for some children to mature more slowly than others, but Yaakov was also becoming increasingly introverted and rigid.  With each year that passed, the social, emotional and academic...
By Dr. Karen Wasserman on Jul 7, 2014
Summertime! Par­ents around the world breathe a sigh of relief as the everyday stress­es of long school days, hectic schedules, and tense nights of homework ease up. Yet, at the same time, many parents hesitate to complete­ly relax during the prolonged summer school break, especially if their children have learning difficulties or disabilities.We are all familiar with the studies that show that children experience a natural re­gression of academic skills during the sum­mer months due to being out of school. But how can parents minimize this regression and keep their...
By Jenny Gans on May 8, 2014
Teaneck—“We didn’t know what to do for Binyamin,” Teaneck parents Susan and David Richman told JLBC. At the time, their son was graduating from a special ed. high school and unsure of his next move. For 22-year-old Binyamin Richman, there were few options. He wanted to integrate into a community, but was not able to find his place. Fortunately, in September of 2013, Sinai opened the doors to the Netivot program for young adults, and Binyamin became one of its first participants. A day habilitation program housed in the Teaneck Jewish Center, Netivot is designed for post- high school young...
By Elizabeth Kratz on Jan 24, 2014
Teaneck—There is a boy who calls his grandmother on his bus ride home each day from school, of course to tell her that he loves her, but also to tell her, with unabashed glee, what he had for lunch that day. Until this fall, this child with special needs was in public school, before switching to Sinai Schools. “There can be so many barriers to normalcy for a Jewish child with special needs in a public school. Just to be able to have a kosher lunch in the lunchroom with all the other kids in the school, it made him so happy,” said Sam Fishman, managing director of Sinai Schools. The...
By Esther Klavan on Dec 2, 2013
As both a parent and educator, I find myself using the phrase, “What’s your plan?” countless times throughout the week. Whether in response to my own child remarking that he left his math textbook at school and cannot do his homework, or a student coming to let me know that he has two Shabbatonim on the same weekend, my response is typically, “What’s your plan?”These simple words are empowering. They inherently validate the individual’s concern or dilemma by virtue of merely being heard, and simultaneously shift the responsibility back on him to become a problem solver. Quite often the...

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