As part of Kveller's month-long series dedicated to Jewish Disability Awareness Month, Benay Josselson shares her success at mainstreaming her son on the autism spectrum into a Jewish day school classroom.
"Our son got his first siddur (prayer book) last week, and it was–in a word–amazing. A year ago, I never would have predicted he would be up on that stage. In fact, I was convinced of just the opposite–that my son would not be attending Jewish day school at all, let alone participating in the first grade siddur ceremony. I was so convinced, I blogged about how unlikely it would be for he and our new local community Jewish day school to be a match. I’ve never been so happy to say I was wrong.…
When our son received his siddur, I was incredibly proud. But what made me even prouder was seeing all of the people in our “village” who shared my pride: our family, Rockland Jewish Academy staff, parents and friends, and the rabbis from our synagogue. Inclusion of children with disabilities is difficult, and is not always possible in every situation. But when I looked around the room at the siddur ceremony, I was so grateful that inclusion is working for our son, allowing him to be part of RJA’s amazing community.
Our son may learn differently than others and he may have some social quirks that other kids his age don’t. But our son loves Judaism as much, if not more, than the next child, and he deserves the same opportunities to embrace our religion as anyone else. RJA shares that belief, and regularly accommodates his different learning styles and needs so that he can be as successful as his classmates.
Last year at this time, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of where our son fit into our Jewish community. And while I know there are no guarantees, for right now RJA is a great fit. For our son’s part, he is already talking about what his chumash (the printed form of the Torah) ceremony will be like. That’s a goal I can get behind, and I think RJA can too."
Read the entire post at Kveller.