The New Normal

Everyone is welcome in The New Normal, a Jewish blog about disability. We're a source of information, inspiration and a challenge to received wisdom.

Independence Days: 25 Years Of The Americans With Disabilities Act

Here in the U.S., we are about to celebrate Independence Day.  I’m from Philadelphia so July 4 is especially meaningful to me: After all, it was in the City of Brotherly Love that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. 

July is another celebration of American freedom. July 26 is the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Americans With Disabilities Act, the ADA. The ADA has been widely recognized as the Civil Rights Act for people with disabilities. It's a recognition by our nation that people with disabilities are to be treated with respect and dignity.

Steven Eidelman

Adam Dayan: Advocating For Students With Special Needs

Editor's Note: We are proud to share another one of The Jewish Week's "36 Under 36" who is an advocate for children with special needs.

Self-Advocate With Asperger's Syndrome Speaks Out On Inclusion

As a college student living with Asperger’s Syndrome, I have learned to know when I am being accepted and included. I’ve learned about my challenges and my strengths — and I speak out about what true inclusion feels like. When I am viewed as a person with unique areas of strengths in addition to unique areas of challenge instead of primarily as a person with special needs, I know that I am being fully included and accepted.

In Honor of Father's Day: Tips For Dads Raising Kids With Autism

On June 21st, we honor the amazing fathers in our life: the men who work hard every day to support and care for their families. For fathers who are parenting children with autism, there is not a clear roadmap to follow. Here are some tips that can help support dads in their parenting journey:

Frances Victory

Teen Perspective: Don't Underestimate People With Disabilities

Editor's Note: As we recognize the 10 companies selected for the Ruderman "Best in Business' award, we are delighted to bring New Normal readers a teen perspective on employment and disability.

Actress Nikki Reed says, "What is important is to treat everyone like an individual and learning not to generalize disabilities.” She experiences autism first hand because her brother has autism. She strongly supports autism awareness and helping people understand that people with disabilities should be able to have a productive place in society.

Young adults with disabilities need jobs in today's workforce.

Jake Borenstein

36 Under 36: Tikvah Juni, Public Face Of Inclusion Advocacy

Editor's Note: At the "New Normal," we're excited that two of this year's "36 Under 36" winners work for more inclusion of people with disabilities. We're sharing one of the profiles today:

When Tikvah Juni was 16, she received her first standing ovation.

“I remember all the people, cheering and smiling,” said Juni, who had been the guest speaker at an event hosted by Yachad: The National Jewish Council for Disabilities.

“That was the first time I really believed the world could change,” she said. Since then, she’s been trying to change the world one speech at a time.

Juni, who has Down syndrome, travels around the U.S. teaching audiences about inclusion. In Washington, D.C., she even lobbied state and federal legislators to increase resources for special needs students.

Masorti Movement In Israel Speaks Out To President Rivlin

Yesterday, the Masorti Movement for Conservative Judaism in Israel sent a letter to Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, signed by the leaders of every major Conservative Jewish organization, urging him to reconsider the cancellation of a bar and bat mitzvah ceremony for children with disabilities.

The mayor of Rehovot, Israel had cancelled the bar mitzvah last month because it was taking place in a Conservative, not Orthodox, synagogue. That move sparked outrage on social media from the progressive Jewish community in Israel and around the world. In response, representatives of the Masorti Movement for Conservative Judaism and officials from the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs worked on a compromise with members of the President of Israel's office. The parents and children were happy with the outcome and it seemed like the ceremony was set to take place.

Summer Safety: Autism Awareness Cards

At last summer has begun! We've celebrated Memorial Day; soon we will be enjoying the fireworks of the 4th of July and before we know it, we'll be saying good bye to the summer with our Labor Day plans. This past Memorial day, I went to a Mets game with friends and family. As I walked around through the parking lot, gift shop, museum and food area, I began to think about how a child with autism may feel overwhelmed at baseball game or any kind of event in a crowded public area that families may wish to attend over the summer.

Dr. Frances Victory

Not So Special: My Bar Mitzvah Year, 50 Years Later

In 1965, the phrase “special needs” hadn’t yet been coined. I felt just like the other 15 students — excited about our Bar Mitzvahs, but bored by the four hours of preparation each week.

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