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  1. This is the reason we made aliyah. We had 2 girls with Down Syndrome and felt they would get better schooling here in Israel. We made aliyah 13 years ago and never looked back.

    Comment by Aviva Ernst — November 5, 2013 @ 7:33 AM

  2. Thank you Varda and thank you Leah for telling your story.

    Comment by Leora Hyman — November 5, 2013 @ 7:43 AM

  3. This very much validates the positive experience we've had with our 6 year old son with Down Syndrome. My wife is an OT and is familiar with the systems both here and in NJ and is confident that our son is getting far superior services and support here.

    Comment by Michael Lipkin — November 5, 2013 @ 7:50 AM

  4. Varda, thank you so much for this, and please give Leah my thanks and good wishes–it's tough to be a parent to special needs children, and I'm happy things have, despite all her struggles, been positive for her children and family. I'm also happy to see my own experiences validated with the special education/special needs health care system here in Israel.

    Comment by Sarah Williams — November 5, 2013 @ 9:07 AM

  5. Good to add a positive slant , and inform people of the good possibilities.

    Comment by Dov Blair Epstein — November 5, 2013 @ 9:15 AM

  6. Chavie Klein

    Comment by Tamary Sladowsky — November 5, 2013 @ 9:31 AM

  7. Just another reason to be proud to live here, thanks for sharing this!

    Comment by Toby Curwin — November 5, 2013 @ 9:59 AM

  8. OMG! Just realized I have lots and lots of comments and yours is the first. Thanks, Toby :-)

    Comment by Varda Epstein — November 5, 2013 @ 10:33 AM

  9. Thank you, Toby. Great article and as a parent of an APD sweetheart, I whole-heartedly agree about the resources available in Israel.

    Comment by Aviela Andrea Krissman Deitch — November 5, 2013 @ 10:33 AM

  10. I will tell her, Sarah. That's nice. :-)

    Comment by Varda Epstein — November 5, 2013 @ 10:33 AM

  11. Thank you, Michael. I suspect I will need to tell many more such stories before people are convinced.

    Comment by Varda Epstein — November 5, 2013 @ 10:34 AM

  12. Ah, that's GREAT, Aviva. You gave me goosebumps by saying that here. Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by Varda Epstein — November 5, 2013 @ 10:34 AM

  13. Good article, though I'd like to point out that the negative articles that I read were written by parents that were not looking for a religious educational framework for their kids.

    Comment by Yonina Rosenbluth — November 5, 2013 @ 11:09 AM

  14. That's interesting, Yonina. Thanks for sharing that thought.

    Comment by Varda Epstein — November 5, 2013 @ 11:44 AM

  15. Sorry to break the feel-good pro-Aliyah bubble, but we had a similar story, except with the opposite results.

    I beat my head against a wall for years dealing with two children with special needs here in Israel.

    After much research on possibilities for high schools in Israel, I met with the head of the Efrat Dept. of Education, who told me that the special needs situation in Israel needed a grassroots revolution and suggested that I be the one to lead it. When I declined, he told me that moving back to the US was our best bet.

    So, we ended up moving back to the US in 2001 for eight years to get the boys what they needed educationally, and returned only after the younger child finished high school.

    I guess there's no blanket solution. Or maybe the situation in Israel has changed, but I suspect that it depends on the individual needs of the child.

    Comment by Debra Warburg Walk — November 5, 2013 @ 2:33 PM

  16. Okay. That's as valid as any other response, I suppose, though it saddens me.

    Comment by Varda Epstein — November 5, 2013 @ 4:10 PM

  17. I have a mentally disabled twenty year old son that we plan to make aliyah with next summer when he will be either an adult, or close to it. I worry that it may not be as easy a process to get him into a facility. We would prefer residential,but, at least for a time we would certainly welcome a day program. I wonder if there is a support/ advocacy group of parents for this age group. We are in our 60's and my husband is a federal gov't retiree and we are considering Haifa.Let me know if you can advise. Kol Tov, Alice C Gross

    Comment by Anonymous — November 5, 2013 @ 7:29 PM

  18. This is so wonderful I am so proud. Wish this blog could go to all the schools in thUSA

    Comment by Sandy Brodsky — November 5, 2013 @ 11:37 PM

  19. Alice, I don't know about this, but hopefully one of my readers will see your comment and answer you. I will also raise the question in my next blog piece. This is an important consideration in your aliyah and I hope we can help!

    Comment by Varda Epstein — November 6, 2013 @ 5:43 AM

  20. I am happy to read these kinds of letters because my children (4 ages 5-13) experienced a real improvement in self assured-ness and academics after making Aliyah with me in 1970. It was after an unpleasant divorce from their father, an abusive pathologist physician. When we returned to the USA after three years, they were at the tops of their respective classes especially in math, but also in reading and science, and were much better adjusted socially.

    Comment by Barbara Chekroun — November 10, 2013 @ 2:20 PM

  21. Alice, I am in contact with someone at Kishorit, a facility for special needs adults. They are full up, but will be providing me with leads on other such facilities that I can share with you. I will keep you posted.

    Comment by Varda Epstein — November 13, 2013 @ 9:54 AM

  22. Alice, I am in contact with someone at Kishorit, a facility for special needs adults. They are full up, but will be providing me with leads on other such facilities that I can share with you. I will keep you posted.

    Comment by Varda Epstein — November 13, 2013 @ 9:54 AM

  23. Alice, call Shira Reifman at Kishorit. She is English speaking. Her number is 972-52-2240722. Kishorit may expand its facilities shortly and at any rate, she can offer you advice. She needs to know more about your son in order to give you the best advice possible, but mentioned these facilities in general: "Kfar Tikva, Harduf, Shekel, Kfar Refael, Aleh, Alut, and the Joint's supported apartments in the community (call the JDC)."

    Comment by Varda Epstein — November 13, 2013 @ 11:16 AM

  24. Alice, call Shira Reifman at Kishorit. She is English speaking. Her number is 972-52-2240722. Kishorit may expand its facilities shortly and at any rate, she can offer you advice. She needs to know more about your son in order to give you the best advice possible, but mentioned these facilities in general: "Kfar Tikva, Harduf, Shekel, Kfar Refael, Aleh, Alut, and the Joint's supported apartments in the community (call the JDC)."

    Comment by Varda Epstein — November 13, 2013 @ 11:16 AM

  25. As for support groups, I don't yet know of one specific to your age group. There is this group for the religious community, not necessarily for Olim, and probably a little young for you: https://www.facebook.com/groups/458335517565900/
    and
    http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/specialfrummoms/info
    I suggest you join them anyway, and ask if anyone knows of a group more suited to you and your husband.

    Comment by Varda Epstein — November 13, 2013 @ 11:19 AM

  26. Get in touch with http://www.horimbekesher.co.il/. Kesher is an org that is dedicated to working with families and helping provide info. I think they even have an office in Haifa but I would get in touch with them directly and ask for help in advance. Also contact Elwyn for living situations as well as voc ed opportunities. But note, a 20 year old with a dev delay has schooling/frameworks until 21.

    Comment by Beth Steinberg — November 13, 2013 @ 11:48 AM

  27. Beth Steinberg thank you!!!

    Comment by Varda Epstein — November 13, 2013 @ 11:49 AM

  28. Israel is still very tough. Afterschool, camps – a lot of that stuff which parents also need is underdeveloped. I know, I run an afterschool/camp program. Programs for kids on the spectrum as well as svcs are much better than for kids with dev issues. Inclusion is almost unheard of and barely supported. The gov't is beginning to talk the talk but it will take time. And yet, we've been happier here schoolwise than we were in NYC but inclusion? Forget about it. Nobody will include my kid in a school env.

    Comment by Beth Steinberg — November 13, 2013 @ 11:51 AM

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