Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Top 10 Inspirational People With Autism and Asperger Syndrome Watchmojo

Disabled Israel defense Force volunteer honored

Even though Liran Look was automatically eligible for an exemption from mandatory military service due to his disability, he volunteered to serve in the IDF. During a ceremony on Monday, Look received a special award for excellence in recognition of his contributions.
When all of his friends received their orders to enlist, he decided that in spite of the difficulties, he wanted to enlist as well, explained Look, highlighting his devotion to the IDF and the Jewish state.
“The desire to serve has been with me since childhood. Unfortunately, when I first approached an officer in the enlistment office, I was immediately told that my condition would prevent me from serving.”
Liran eventually heard about the JNF’s “Special in Uniform” program, and contacted Lt. Col. Ariel Almog, the head of the program, who spoke with him about opportunities to enlist as a volunteer.
Special in Uniform is a unique program, now operated in partnership with the Jewish National Fund (JNF) to integrate young people with autism and other disabilities into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and, in turn, into Israeli society. Its core belief is that everyone has a place in Israeli society, and has the right to reach his or her full potential. Special in Uniform focuses on the unique talents of each individual participant to help them find a job within the IDF that is a perfect fit for their skills and helping keep Israel safe and secure.
Liran eventually enlisted through the Special in Uniform program, and is now stationed with an emergency warehouse unit in the Home Front Command. His commanders have noted his dedication to his duties and the hard work he puts in every day to ensure that his unit will be ready when called upon.
In honor of the 68th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, Liran received special awards of excellence from Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick of Israel’s Home Front Command (HFC).
The Special in Uniform program is sponsored in party by the Israeli government, though most of the funding comes from the JNF and private donations.

Ruti Regan 36 under 36

For Ruti Regan, the first openly autistic rabbinical student to attend Jewish Theological Seminary, the Passover seder is laden with messages about inclusion.
 “The redemption story is all about building sanctity, even when the situation is degrading,” said the 31-year-old North Carolina native. “When we’re in exile, we need to acknowledge the hardship but not be consumed by it. We have to keep building.”
For Regan, continuing to build in the face of overwhelming obstacles is her modus operandi. Two years ago, she launched Anachnu, a nonprofit organization that works towards full equality for Jews with disabilities. The organization, run by Jews with disabilities, operates on “three we’s,” said Regan: “We the Jewish people, we people with disabilities, and we Jews with disabilities.”
 “Our ‘we’ needs to be broad — we can’t imagine out anyone,” she said. So far, the organization has pioneered several innovative projects, including #ParshaChat, a weekly Twitter conversation on the parsha that addresses the disability experience, and “Seeing Tzelem Elohim,” a workshop that supports families through the disability acceptance process.
For Regan, her Judaism is intimately connected to her experience as an autistic individual. “The Torah taught me that we are all created in the image of God. Disability taught me how to mean it,” she said.
It’s a message she doesn’t keep to herself. On her blog, “Real Social Skills,” which has over 13,000 followers, Regan writes about the difficulties people have communicating with one another, sometimes because of disabilities.
One universal key to communication, according to Regan, is humor; she herself is not above joking about her disability.
“Who sits around all day, rocking back and forth, focusing on minutiae and not making eye contact? It’s not a coincidence that autistic people have so much in common with Beit Midrash culture,” she joked.
Though Regan dreams one day of having her own congregation, she feels her calling right now is to ensure that the Jewish community can “hold disability experience with dignity and equality.”
Still, though the task is big, one’s perspective is half the battle.
 “It’s less about the moments of realizing how huge the problem is, and more about realizing there’s something we can do about it,” she finished.
Her favorite biblical character is Moses. Though this canonical hero has a stutter, God insists he’s the right man for the job — not despite his disability, but because of it, said Regan. She sees the Moses story as emblematic of the disability experience — “You never know what you’re truly capable of until you try.”  

Read more at http://www.thejewishweek.com/special-sections/36-under-36/ruti-regan-31#1tJkiWdepldOe8Bi.99

Monday, May 30, 2016

How a mask tool can unmask autism


How a theatre tool can unmask autism

Professor uses drama technique to engage children with autism in India.
I was working with a child and his mother, using a theatre mask.
Suddenly, the mother started crying.
I went up to her and asked what happened.
"My son is 8 years old and all these years he had never looked at my face. Today, now, he looked at me."
Drama brought the child and mother together. They bonded. Drama helped them to bond.
There are innumerable stories like that, where I saw lives of children with autism transformed through drama.
Some in the neuro-scientific community think that people with autism have no imagination, no empathy.
I would steadfastly tell them: Look, they can write poetry, they can paint, they can perform on stage. If this is not imagination, then imagination has to be redefined.
My training in applied theatre and a chance encounter with one child with autism motivated me in 2005.
I found children with autism wandering with so many intervention models, and not happy.
Drama, I thought, should be part of their life, so that they can look at life in a beautiful way.            
So I created a platform for artists in the autism spectrum to meet, interact and perform on stage.
Drama for autism needs to reach every nook and corner of the world and any child anywhere in the world can reach out to me for help.
I want every child with autism to be happy, smiling and living the life of their choice.

How to get involved
Sign up for an online Drama for Autism course, developed by theatre studies professor Parasuram Ramamoorthi, especially if you are an individual, school or centre working with or caring for those with autism. The fees go directly to support Velvi's work.
Support Velvi's Art for Autism festival, which is held in different parts of India every year. Velviis also looking to hold the festival in other countries, where those with autism and their families learn art, music, drama and movement, with the help of experts from India and the US.
Shot and edited by Pooja Batura
Text by Parasuram Ramamoorthi

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Zak Pollack making a difference in the Jewish community

Born premature with cerebral palsy, a quadriplegic who has used a wheelchair most of his life, Pollack briefly thought of becoming a psychologist, but had no concrete career goal … until he underwent lifesaving surgery eight years ago.
The 10-hour operation, to correct a curvature of his spine, was followed by a yearlong recuperation period, during which he decided to become a motivational speaker.
After the recuperation period, “I had more appreciation for life,” he says in the living room of his family’s home in Passaic, N.J. “I felt I had a purpose — I wanted to inspire people.”
Pollack, a graduate of nearby Emerson High School (he was honored as the top student in media/journalism) who studies Torah three times a week at Yeshiva University (his goal is to earn rabbinical ordination), reviews his lessons by Skype with a learning partner and takes some adult education courses, and has developed a busy speaking schedule. His venues include public, private and parochial schools, companies and charitable organizations; his family drives him in an adapted van.
 “I want to teach people that they should be thankful for every day,” Pollack says.
 “I speak about miracles,” he says. Citing his own story, he delivers a message in favor of inclusion and against bullying — he’s been the victim of bullying. Like many people with CP who have undergone speech therapy, he speaks slowly, distinctly, enunciating each word.
Pollack tells the story of a disabled boy who bullied him on a school bus a few years ago. He explained how painful bullying is; the boy stopped bullying. “We became friends,” Pollack says.
Giant friendship: At a Make-a-Wish event a few years ago that featured several football players from the New York Giants, the Pollack family established a close friendship with Markus Kuhn, a German-born, 300-pound defensive tackle who recently signed with the New England Patriots. Kuhn’s given Pollack a signed helmet, and a personal tour of the Giants’ stadium. “He comes here for dinner,” Zack’s father says.
Visit to Israel: Pollack got to see Israel, a longtime wish, on a month-long tour sponsored by the OU’s Yachad Yad B’Yad program. “I liked going to the Kotel (Western Wall) most of all,” he says. “When you go to the Kotel, Hashem’s right there with you.”

Read more at http://www.thejewishweek.com/special-sections/36-under-36/zack-pollack-22#fRgrR3xdVfXPb369.99

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

community rallies behind man with disability after complaint


Although Andrew Ankar was born with Down syndrome, it hasn't stopped him from successfully running his family's Chattanooga, Tennessee, restaurant – even after a customer complained about him working there to the health department. 

Andrew, 20, became a co-owner of Ankar's Hoagies after his dad, George, died from cancer last April. Now, he arrives every morning at 8 a.m. alongside his mom, Judy, to open up the restaurant and work a 13-hour day. 

But on May 4, Judy received a shocking complaint from the health department – one that questioned why Andrew was allowed to work at the restaurant. 

"The health inspector walked in, which randomly happens," Judy tells PEOPLE. "But when he told me why I was so shocked." 

The complaint read, "persons unnecessary to the food establishment occupation are not allowed in the food prep, food storage or washing area." 

Billy Ulmer, acting public information officer for the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, told The Times Free Press that they followed through and sent an inspector out. 

"The inspector's findings were there were no violations," he told the newspaper. "So that's pretty much the end for us." 

Community Rallies Around Man with Down Syndrome After Customer Complains About His Restaurant Job: 'He's More Than Capable,' Says Mom| Good Deeds, Around the Web, Real People Stories, The Daily Smile
Judy Ankar and her son, Andrew Ankar

Andrew's brother, Alex, took to Facebook after hearing about the report that was filed, and passionately defended his sibling following the accusation. 

"It makes my blood boil that there are people in this world who don't have an ounce of kindness in their heart to appreciate what an amazing person he is," he wrote. "Sometimes I sit back and marvel at Andrew's ability to love everyone ... even people who aren't deserving of his kindness. He knows no hate." 

Since then, Ankar's restaurant, which has been in the family since the '70s, has more than doubled its customer base, with a group organizing a Facebook page called Support Andrew to encourage more people to come to the restaurant and meet him. 

"I am so lucky to have this kid," says Judy. "He really is a Godsend. He just touches so many peoples live." 

Y-Studs - The Days (feat. Camp HASC)

Another article on roim rahok the idf autism unit

By Judy Gruen
Irit and Benny worried about the day when their son, Ariel,* would come of age and discover that unlike nearly all other 18-year-olds in Israel, he would be barred from the IDF because of his autism. Israeli parents naturally worry about their sons’ and daughters’ safety while on active duty in the Israeli Defense Forces, but service in the IDF is also a rite of passage, an integration from youth to adult Israeli society.
Not only would Ariel be excluded from serving in the IDF, but his formal schooling would also end and with it, nationally subsidized services for special needs children. Now how would Irit and Benny keep their son productive and engaged, and provide him with a sense of purpose? Young autistic adults are often very bright, but their difficulties with social engagement and communication leave them with poor employment prospects. They often linger at home without purposeful projects or work.
To succeed in this elite intelligence unit, they must have rare powers of concentration.
But then the unimaginable happened: Within one year Ariel was a volunteer soldier in Unit 9900, where high functioning autistic adults help interpret images taken by aerial reconnaissance vehicles and military satellites. He was part of the first “class” of autistic young men whose integration into the unit was made possible by an innovative program called Ro’im Rachok, or “viewing beyond the horizons.”
To succeed in this elite intelligence unit, they must have rare powers of concentration, along with strong spatial intelligence and visual perception, to decipher what they see. Their interpretations of the images help the IDF plan combat missions, sometimes changing strategy based on newly deciphered images.
Research has shown that the visual perception of people on the autism spectrum is often different, rather than better, than those not on the spectrum. But autistic individuals can excel at approaching complex visual images “objectively,” focusing only on the “raw data,” without preconceived notions of how things are supposed to be.
In the three years since Roim Rachok was launched, approximately 30 young autistic adults have worked in unit 9900, and 20 have worked in other units in roles related to software assurance, information sorting, and as electro-optic technicians. Now, two veterans are being trained to integrate into private sector jobs. Soldiers from Roim Rachok’s first course of analyzers will be released from assignment in January 2017.
This sensitive work in military intelligence is ideal for many individuals on the autism spectrum. First, they excel at paying attention to small details and can remain focused for long periods of time on repetitive work. Second, autistic individuals are less likely to yearn for career advancement, and Unit 9900 has had a chronic shortage of decipherers because the soldiers accepted into the elite unit are eager to move up into integrated intelligence positions. Finally, the work in the unit is top secret. As one mother of a Unit 9900 soldier observed, “Autistic people tend to see things in black and white. If they understand something is secret and they are not allowed to talk about it, they won’t talk about it. Ever.”
Ro’im Rachok was the brainchild of T. Vardi, a former IDF commander, and L. Sali, a physicist who had worked in the technology side of military intelligence as well as the mother of an autistic young adult. She well understood where the confluence between the special capabilities of autistic people and the needs of the IDF.
"The program is based on the idea to match the special capabilities of people on the autistic spectrum with real needs of the IDF and its intelligence units," Sali says. "This match is the win-win that will enable the program to last."
Autism diagnoses are rising in many countries, including in Israel, making the need for this program acute. According to the Israeli Society for Autistic Children, about 10 times more Israeli children have autism as do adults.
Vardi was inspired to create the program while meeting with a group of men who had all served together as paratroopers when they were young. They had gathered to offer condolences to Dror Rotenberg, whose son Nadav had been killed in a “friendly fire” incident at the Gaza border in 2011. During the get-together, one of the men spoke of his worry for his two sons, both autistic, and what sort of future they would have. “I realized at that moment that creating a new life model for people with autism that gives them a chance to utilize their potential was what I was meant to do," Vardi said. “This program was meant to create hope out of the pain.”
Not everyone with autism is suited for the program. Participants who are accepted in Ro’im Rachok attend a three-month course at the Ono Academic College near Tel Aviv. The college was chosen for its respected departments of occupational therapy, speech therapy and physiotherapy, as well as its location near Tel Aviv. In the program, the recruits are trained not only in photo analysis and optics but equally importantly, in the social, communication and life skills they will need help with in the IDF. Autistic people can have trouble organizing and expressing their thoughts, so they learn how and when to speak up in a rank-appropriate manner. They also learn how to follow orders, stay on schedule, work with a team, and independent life skills, such as managing their own bus or train commutes to work.
"During the course they learn the army profession as well as how to be an independent soldier," says Efrat Selanikyo, the professional manager of the program,
The father of one soldier serving today, a former F-16 fighter pilot, secretly followed his son in his car to ensure his son could successfully commute to the course, and helped him on one of the first days when the bus transfer did not work according to plan. Since that day his son has grown toward much fuller independence.
The recruits as well as their colleagues and commanders can find the social dynamics intimidating of this blended society, and therapists meet with the unit weekly. Flexibility and understanding are keys to success. Some recruits have intense sensitivities, such as to flickering lights or to the sound of the air conditioning unit. Some need frequent exercise breaks to release tension. When one soldier could not keep up with his assignments, a therapist suggested dividing the tasks into smaller chores. This soldier became one of the unit’s strongest decipherers.
Recruits accepted in Ro’im Rachok sign up only for a voluntary service of one year, but most extend their service for another year or two. Dan Korkowski graduated with the first group of Ro’im Rachok and held the torch on the traditional Independence Day ceremony on Mount Herzl. In describing his work in the unit, he said, “I look at pictures and find things. I write reports that show more aids and pictures for other soldiers to show them what’s in the field. Regular people have all sorts of other things on their minds but I concentrate on one thing. There are no distractions. If there’s too much music I put headphones one. It keeps me focused.”
The incredible focus of Unit 9900 enabled them to complete one analysis in three months that was expected to take up to eighteen months. Their speed and quality was also extremely helpful during Operation Protective Edge, according to one unit commander, who noted that the need for soldiers with these skills is only increasing. “The gap between the amount of information coming in and the ability to process it is becoming greater and more complex. The need for personnel who can help us deal with this gap is crucial.”
“‘Your son won’t go into the Army,’ he said. It was one of the worst days of my life.”
Ro’im Rachok has offered a solution to problems that seemingly had nothing in common. The participants have added to the safety of the State of Israel while gaining the opportunity for a more meaningful and hopeful future. For many, it has also been a relief to stop having to try to “pass” as being like most other people, and to be openly autistic in a group that understands and accepts them for who they are.
One mother of a Ro’im Rachok participant said, “When my son was four the speech therapist said to me, ‘Your son won’t go into the Army.’ It was one of the worst days in my life. Now I cry every time I remember it. I tell my son, “We did it! It’s a feeling I can’t describe, a dream come true.”
One father said that his son’s growth as a result of Ro’im Rachok has allowed him to worry much less about his son’s future. “You constantly wonder what will be in five,10, 20, 30 years,” he said, “constantly looking for solutions and looking for ways to advance them and secure their future. Because in the end, their lifespan is normal and when we are not here, they still will be, and someone needs to care for them.” The staff of Ro’im Rachok are working with several private employers to prepare them to hire several alumni of the program, continuing the integration into normative Israeli society.
“I see myself as an equal person and citizen.”
“There were times when it bothered me to think that something is wrong with me,” said N. Geffen, another soldier in unit 9900. “I didn’t know what to call this thing (until) at 17, when I discovered that it’s called Asperger’s. Besides the fact that it’s mandatory to serve in the army it’s also a great privilege to serve the country. I also see myself as an equal person and citizen.”
Another soldier, known as Private E, said, “It gives me a chance, on-the-job education. It’s a beginning. It’s a very solid beginning.”
Finding jobs that suit their skills and temperament will remain a challenge, but these soldiers with autism will have learned how to cope with a changing environment, strategizing to complete a complex assignment, and dealing with a variety of people different than they are.
"We come at a crucial time in their lives,” adds Vardi. “They are leaving home and transitioning to independence. If it’s done the right way, the sky is the limit.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

ABC picks up disability comedy show

A major television network is set to air a comedy about a family with a child who has special needs.
ABC has picked up the 30-minute series “Speechless,” the network has confirmed to Disability Scoop.
The show stars actress Minnie Driver as Maya DiMeo, a mother “who will do anything” for her husband and kids including her eldest son JJ, who has special needs.
JJ is played by Micah Fowler, an actor who has cerebral palsy in real life. He previously appeared in the 2013 film “Labor Day.”“As Maya fights injustices both real and imagined, the family works to make a new home for themselves, and searches for just the right person to give JJ his ‘voice,'” according to the network’s description of the show.
ABC initially committed to a pilot for “Speechless” in January. Now, the network says it will air the series and production is expected to begin in August, though it is unclear exactly how many episodes are in the works or when it will premiere.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Long Island cafe offers job oppurtunities for diabled adults

FORT SALONGA, N.Y. — Cody Stillwagon dreamed of cooking, but he was stuck washing dishes.
Last month, however, Mr. Stillwagon, 19, of East Northport, N.Y., was slicing vegetables and fruits in a professional kitchen. Mr. Stillwagon has autism, which in past jobs kept him at the sink. Now, he works at Cause Cafe, a business on the North Shore of Long Island created to provide jobs and training for adults with cognitive disabilities.
Stacey Wohl, whose daughter and son have autism, started employing people with disabilities through her wholesale coffee line, Our Coffee with a Cause. But when sales slowed, she and her mother, Susan Schultz, decided to open the brick-and-mortar Cause Cafe here.
“I didn’t know what was going to be for their future,” Ms. Wohl said of her children, Brittney, 18, and Logan, 16. “There’s nothing for kids like them to do. They’d wind up in a sheltered workshop putting bottle tops on things.”
When children with autism age out of public school at 21, their options are limited. “It’s called ‘falling off the cliff,’” Ms. Wohl, of Northport, N.Y., said. “At 22, there’s no services.”
Cody Stillwagon, who is 19 and has autism, works cutting vegetables and fruits at the cafe. Past employers kept him washing dishes when he preferred to cook. CreditHeather Walsh for The New York Times
Anna Trent is the director of vocational services at Life’s WORC, a nonprofit organization that helps people with developmental disabilities in Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties find employment.
“People have certain images about people with disabilities, and unless they’re exposed to it, they’re not able to open their minds to the abilities versus the disabilities,” she said.
At Cause Cafe, which recently opened, about half of the 15 staff members have disabilities. Some choose to work only in the kitchen — to start, at least — while others take orders and serve customers. The cafe is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. The menu includes French-inspired pastries and wraps — like the Marseilles, with lemon-herb hummus, avocado, cucumber and tomato — and offers gluten-free and dairy-free options.
Toby Eagle, a retired chiropractor from nearby Smithtown, N.Y., heard about the cafe from friends and bought two bags of pastries and miscellaneous goods before sitting down to breakfast. “We think this is so wonderful, because there’s so many special-needs young people, and it provides viable options for them,” Ms. Eagle said. “And an extra bonus, we love that a lot of the food’s organic and healthy.”
On Mondays, the staff works with Cheryl Mendelsohn, a psychologist from Northport and the director of training for the cafe, on skills such as managing time, setting goals and interacting with others. Dr. Mendelsohn and Janet London, a speech pathologist from Northport, create step-by-step breakdowns of the tasks that need to be done. Dr. Mendelsohn also has a to-do list for employees to use during lulls.
Cheryl Mendelsohn is a psychologist and the director of training for the cafe. CreditHeather Walsh for The New York Times
“The main thing is to get these people job training and get them out of the house and make them feel useful,” Dr. Mendelsohn said. “These are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever seen.”
Many people with autism do well with hands-on, repetitive tasks, Ms. London said.
“They need very specific, structured situations that cater to their very, very specific needs,” she said, sitting at a corner table in the cafe, eating the omelet of the day. “But no matter how severe the child is, they understand doing a good job. They understand being appreciated.”
Young adults with disabilities can thrive in an appropriate environment, she said, adding, “We all need meaningful work.”
But make no mistake: Cause Cafe is a business. Jobs are earned, standards are set.
“We are hoping to show the world that these young adults can work and get paid and be productive,” Ms. Wohl said.
In fact, a year ago in Schenectady, N.Y, Sara Mae Hickey opened Puzzles Bakery & CafĂ©, which also provides job opportunities for adults with disabilities. Puzzles employs about 20 people, and 10 interns. About half of them have special needs. The waiting list for employment is 600 applicants long.
William Muller, 23, got a job at the cafe after unsuccessful interviews elsewhere.CreditHeather Walsh for The New York Times
“I have people contact me every day, saying, ‘Can you open a Puzzles in Ohio? Can you open a puzzles in Alabama?’” Ms. Hickey said. “There’s a great need for this all around the country, all around the world.”
In Fort Salonga, when Mr. Stillwater’s parents asked about a job, Ms. Wohl had no openings. His parents said he would volunteer, as some of the workers do, to gain experience and build a resume. But Ms. Wohl was so impressed once she saw him working that she offered him a paid position.
Claudia Muller’s son, William, 23, of Northport, has autism and went on many unsuccessful interviews before landing a job at Cause Cafe.
“When they age out at 21, you’re scrambling,” Ms. Muller said. “I’m just very excited for him to have a purpose in life.”
Matt Hendrickson, 36, of Northport, who has worked at a print shop and as a custodian at a church, said he felt pressured in past work environments.
“A lot of other jobs, you kind of have to be more like everyone else to really fit in,” Mr. Hendrickson, who has Asperger’s syndrome, said. “Here, we’re able to be ourselves and not feel uncomfortable, just letting what we have come out.”

all abilities preformance troupe preforms anti bullying musical


When Elaine Hall discovered 20 years ago that her toddler had autism, she didn’t try to get him to conform to the rest of the world. Instead, she tried to understand his world.
“If he’d spin in circles, we’d play Ring-Around-the-Rosie,” Hall recalls. “If he stared at his hand, I’d stare at my hand. Traditional therapists thought I was loony.”
But eventually, she says, autism experts encouraged her to continue connecting with her son, Neal, in this way. Before long, he began to break out of his bubble of isolation. Inspired by his progress, Hall set out to use her background as an acting coach to help children with autism and other special needs participate in theatrical performance.
With the help of a grant, Hall launched The Miracle Project in 2004 — a theater, film, and expressive arts program for students of all abilities. Children and teens with autism, cerebral palsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Tourette syndrome have taken part in the program since its inception. In 2007, the unique efforts of The Miracle Project were featured in the independent documentary film,Autism: The Musical.
“We open our doors to anyone who genuinely would not have the opportunity to be in a theater production,” says Hall, who now serves as Creative Director for the program.
The Miracle Project offers classes to children based on skill level and gives them the opportunity to appear in live performances. This month, students will perform in an original musical, The Intimidation Game, at The Miracle Project’s new home — the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. The musical, centered around bullying, was developed by The Miracle Project’s students and staff, and will run May 22–24.
“The musical tackles bullying from different perspectives,” Hall says. “It’s not about standing up to the bully or fighting the bully. It’s about finding the truth in who you are so nothing [that anyone] can do or say will bother you.”
A Miracle Project student unwittingly sparked the idea for the musical, says Hall, after discussing an encounter with a bully. When staffers asked other students if they’d been bullied, each one admitted they had. Consequently, The Intimidation Game features songs about confidence, about shrugging off insults, and about feeling invisible for being different. The stories of each of the eighteen cast members are shared in an intimate, personal way, prompting Hall to liken the musical to the format of A Chorus Line.
Although the musical’s stars have had their share of run-ins with bullies, through The Miracle Project, many have found allies in each other. Among the program’s success stories is Coby Bird, 13. His mother, Rachael, says that her son hardly spoke as a small child. But after attending an autism family festival several years ago, he was asked to perform and seized the chance to sing. For two years now, Coby has participated in The Miracle Project and the experience has been transformative, according to his mother.
“The Miracle Project has really brought him to life,” she says. “He’s really kind of come out of his shell and is just free to be who he really is. There’s no judgment. He’s 6’3” with red hair. He’s the one who kind of sticks out. In middle school, he never had friends, but now he has friends who act with him and sing with him onstage.”
Bird says Coby and his friends appreciate the opportunity to act in a professional theater space like the Wallis, where The Miracle Project relocated from another venue in January.
Mark Slavkin, the Wallis’ Director of Education, says that when the students rehearse, it’s difficult to distinguish them from professional actors. In fact, some Miracle Project alumni have launched professional acting careers, appearing in television shows such as NBC’s recently canceled Parenthood.
The success of The Miracle Project comes from highlighting the gifts of these individuals with special needs, rather than their disadvantages, which can be “belittling and demoralizing.”
“Most of the kids are incredibly bright,” says Slavkin. “They totally know what’s going on, and it’s fun to have them march out [for rehearsal]. They look no different from the other actors, but it’s more meaningful when you know the challenges they’ve overcome.”

miracle project iconInspired by the personal stories of the participants, the show is about the challenges facing the new student as he tries to find his way in a high school full of cliques and quick judgments about who fits in and who doesn’t. The musical aims to help others understand autism and neurological differences and to teach tolerance, compassion, inclusion, and anti-bullying.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Membership In the Jewish community (mandate of inclusion) YU Torah


Watch: Bringing 'peace of mind' to special needs kids via @ArutzSheva_En

Watch: Bringing 'peace of mind' to special needs kids via @ArutzSheva_En

In time for Independence Day on Thursday, SHALVA Founder and Chairman Kalman Samuels spoke to Arutz Sheva about his unique organization for special needs children which is opening a new center in Jerusalem.
Samuels described the origins of SHALVA, the Association for Mentally and Physically Challenged Children in Israel, and the important work it does to provide high quality care and "peace of mind" for disabled children.
The organization has played an important role in its twenty-five years of award-winning program development.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Arthur- Teaches about aspergers

Arthur- When Carl Met George (full episode).mov

I stumbled upon this.  As I have stated a few times before every person with aspergers is different.  You can see the signs he has of aspergers: not understanding social cues, being really interested in  a certain thing, facts, sensory overload, and being smart.

A great thing that someone can do for a person with aspergers is what George does for Carl that he is a freind to him.