Rite Of Passage: I Hope You Dance đźŽ¶


Recently, we had a rite of passage. Although only Raizel had a graduation ceremony, both Yaffa and Raizel graduated from grade 8. In September, they will start high school.

Raizel was very excited! In honor of her graduation, I bought a new hair iron for her and straightened her hair. Oh my – was she so happy! A curly girl, Raizel loves to have her hair straightened.

straightening Raizel’s hair
My husband, however, was ambivalent about the graduation ceremony. But, not for the reasons that one might expect. It was not the wistfulness of watching one’s children grow up nor the nostalgia over the end of childhood.

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For us, the graduation ceremony was bittersweet. It was the reminder that as parents of special needs children, our path through life is different than other parents. Our children grow older, but they do not grow up the same way that other children do.

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When Raizel was in yeshiva, there were many social festivities and events to celebrate this rite of passage. Raizel enjoyed every one of them! My husband never complained about the expense, or distraction from academics that they entailed.

But, now in public school,  Raizel could not graduate with her classmates of the past 4 years.

Some of this was due to the decisions we made. In theory, we  could have let her finish out the year, as the school suggested.

But, we did not. Her needs were not being met, and the lack of attention was affecting other areas of her life.

I am grateful that she was happy about graduation with her new classmates. It’s a sign of resilience. As her mother, I want Raizel to adjust to change with grace and equanimity.
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And, although the circumstances changed, Raizel was still able to experience a graduation ceremony. It was different, and not what we planned, but equally good. 


This is one of my favorite songs. I feel that it captures some of the desires I wish for our daughters as they grow up.

My blessings for you dear Raizel and Yaffa is that you will be able to savor and appreciate all the gifts that you have been given. Always believe in yourself. May you always have hope for the future.


I pray that you will have faith in God and trust that He is always taking care of you. You are never alone.

Adon Olam
We love you!

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Congratulations Raizel and Yaffa!🎉

 

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Educational Challenges With Special Needs Children 

Educational Challenges With Special Needs Children

Today, I had a conversation with a very dear friend, catching her up to all our news. I told her that Raizel is no longer in yeshiva. In fact, there was no local yeshiva that was even willing to accept her as a student for next year.

Often, I get criticism for this decision. Some members of my family, and good friends will tell me that I should have lied so that she could have been accepted SOMEWHERE.

This friend told me that better she should be in a class with lower functioning children than in public school. She said, “she will lose her connection to our faith.”

But, what will she think about herself if she is placed in a class with children who are not her peers and lower functioning? What would that do to her self-esteem and identity?

To my friend, and many others, it is better to be practicing our faith and integrated into the community, rather than to learn how to function at one’s maximum level of potential.


Other people I know, put themselves into huge debt, in order to finance a religious program. A religious program that in our case would not even meet our daughters’ needs and would require additional supplementation and expense.

I have learned though experience that everyone needs to decide for themselves what is best for their family. We all make choices in our life. Some of them will be good, and others will have consequences that we could not foresee. There is no one size fits all.


My husband and I made the difficult decision to place Raizel in a program that will hopefully maximize her ability to function in life, rather than feel socially comfortable.


Wrapping children in a cocoon will work in the short run. Eventually , however, all children grow up. At some point, every person needs to decide who they are and what they believe in.

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As parents, I believe that our greatest challenge is to teach our children how to function in life, be discerning and to think critically and independently. I prefer for Raizel to face these challenges while we are still able to have some influence over her, than in some unknown future date.

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When we spoke to many Rabbis about our dilemma, the advice we were given over and over again was, “you have to build a vessel (k’lee) for the Torah. Without a proper vessel, it will not matter how much Torah you pour in. It will be like a sieve, and just poured down the drain.”

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There are no easy answers. Every day, I pray and ask God to guide me and show me the correct path to travel. I hope and pray that I do what is right and pleasing in His eyes.

Reference:

I found this online and I thought others might enjoy it too:

prayer for one’s children

Here are the 2 links that I found this prayer on:

https://artscroll.com/images/siteimages/prayer.pdf

https://artscroll.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/prayer.pdf

Making A Place For Jewish Children With Special Needs & The “Almost Normal” Gray Zone

  
  

Not all of my posts are going to be deep. But, not all challenges of raising children with special needs are emotionally complex. Some just require opportunity, planning and execution.

The impetus for this post was a conversation that I had this morning with a mother of a boy in Raizel’s grade, Barak.

In general, the educational needs of children with special needs are variable. They require individualized instruction and each child’s individual level of capacity is unique. 

There are children like Yaffa, who have disabilities that are visible and distinct. These children are more likely to have more basic educational needs. 

My goal for Yaffa is to give her an opportunity to learn about our faith at the level she is capable. My second goal is to give her a love of our traditions and a sense of emotional connection to our community. 

Educationally, in some ways, Yaffa is less challenging, than her “higher functioning” sister. A loving and delightful child, Yaffa is not a behavioral challenge.

Barak and Raizel look neuro-typical, and “almost pass” as “normal.”  They have special needs that prevent them from learning in a regular classroom, and they require additional support. 

But, they can learn. 

In Raizel’s case, she requires behavioral support and adaptations to accommodate her different learning style.

I call this “The Challenge Of The “Almost Normal” Gray Zone.”

  

Making a place for Jewish children with special needs in the “almost normal” gray zone is very difficult, for a multitude of reasons.  

I am in the “pre contemplative stage.” I would love to create a Jewish Education and Socialization Network for these “almost normal” children with special needs in our community.

My idea is to run it based on the homeschooling model of education. 

Each family creates their own curriculum for their child’s religious educational needs. 

However, my goal is to have parents pool their resources and have these children learn together in small groups. 

By learning together after their school day, these children could connect and socialize with each other. Indirectly, they could create a small sub community. 

I see this post as a possible social network opportunity. Perhaps it will enable me to find other like-minded parents in similar situations? Perhaps this post will be the beginning of creating a social-learning network community for other Jewish children with special needs who go to public school by necessity? 

 

We are led in the direction of our intensions. I am hopeful.