Last week's Jewish Press came with a wonderful magazine supplement about special education called Building Blocks. It contains over 40 articles that discuss issues ranging from autism to dyslexia, hydrocephalus, hearing loss, and ADHD. The articles are brief but provide a good overview of the different conditions, and also discuss diagnostic testing, available therapies, and assistive technology. There is also a section called "family" which discusses the emotional and logistical difficulties that arise when a loved one has a developmental disability of some kind. (One article, entitled "Parents in Denial" is a must-read for all professionals and for parents who are, well, in denial about their child's difficulties.) Finally, there is a list of professionals and agencies in the New York area that you can turn to for help. If you are a parent of a special needs child, or if you work in the field, I highly recommend that you take a look.
Personally, I was most interested in an article entitled "The Invisible Disability" (p. 44) which discusses Central Auditory Processing Disorders. I have been trying to figure out what to do about my youngest daughter, who has been getting speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and special ed support since she was a year old. These therapies have helped her tremendously, and I am enormously grateful for New York State's generous special ed program, which has provided thousands of hours of therapy for free. However, there is still something that is not quite right with my little sweetheart, and the more I read about CAPD, the more convinced I am that she has a mild form of it and that it is holding her back academically and socially. Reading this article gave me the facts that I needed to go ahead and speak to an audiologist about my concerns, and she is helping me figure out what the next step should be.
The Jewish community has made enormous strides over the past 20 years in recognizing and dealing with children and adults with special needs. There is so much information and help available now, right in our own neighborhoods. If you know of someone who can benefit from this information, don't be shy, don't mind your own business, don't close your eyes and hope it will go away. Every child deserves a chance to reach his full potential. Get the information you need, and then do something about it.
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