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September 27, 2016 / 24 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Haifa’

Haifa U Study: Educators Should Watch for High-Functioning Autistic Children with Handwriting Difficulties

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

The handwriting performance of children with high-functioning autism differs from that of children without autism. Accordingly, the education system should consider the types and formats of tasks given to these children when they are integrated in regular schools. This conclusion emerges from a new study undertaken at the University of Haifa. “The typical process of handwriting performance among children with high-functioning autism is unique, but while the education system addresses reading skills, it pays almost no attention to handwriting skills,” explains Prof. Sara Rosenblum, the author of the study.

Children with high-functioning autism experience difficulties in the social, sensory, and movement fields, but differ from other children on the autism spectrum in terms of their linguistic and cognitive development. Among other differences, these children are usually integrated in regular schools where they are required to perform routine activities such as reading and writing. Writing tasks play an important part in academic progress: writing-related activities account for 30-60 percent of daily activity time in schools. Despite this, the education system places a strong emphasis on reading, whereas skills development, monitoring, and assistance in handwriting performance are much less frequent. There is also a lack of teacher training in this important area.

The present study is unique and the first of its kind in the world. The study was undertaken as part of the thesis prepared by Hemda Amit Ben Simhon of the Neuro-developmental Center at Maccabi HMO, supervised by Prof. Rosenblum, and in consultation with Dr. Eynat Gal, an autism specialist, both from the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Haifa. The study included 60 children aged 9-12 from the 3rd through 6th grades at various schools. Half the subjects were children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder with IQs above 80, while the other half were children with normal development. The children were asked to complete three writing tasks: writing the first name and family name; copying a paragraph; and writing a story describing a picture that was shown to them.

The writing tasks were completed using a special system developed by Prof. Rosenblum that provides objective, computerized data relating not only to the rhythm and speed of handwriting, but also to the degree of pressure applied on the page by the writer, the length of time the pen is in the air, the degree of slant of the pen during handwriting, and so on.

The study findings show that in 91.5 percent of the instances the objective indicators provided by the computerized system enabled the identification of children with high-functioning autism as distinct from children with normal development. In other words, the handwriting performances of the two groups showed statistically significant differences. The children with high-functioning autism produced taller and broader letters; waiting times on paper and in the air were longer; and the degree of slant of the pen was smaller.

It also emerged that the differences between the children with high-functioning autism and those with normal development were particularly prominent in the copying task, and less so in the free writing task. The text copying task required significantly more time. The researchers suggest that the need to invest a long period of time in the handwriting task may exacerbate fatigue, impair concentration, and even hamper the ability to produce handwritten content. This investment in the handwriting task may come at the expense of availability for other academic tasks the children receive, as well as their availability for social challenges in the classroom. “When a child has difficulty writing, they effectively have to cope with this difficulty over many hours a day, making it harder for them to cope with the additional challenges they face (social, cognitive, and functional). For example, if a child has to stay behind in recess to copy text from the board, they will have less time to practice social skills,” the researchers explained.

JNi.Media

Prolonged Heat Wave Causing Numerous Forest Fires Across Israel

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

The heavy heat wave, now in its second day, continues to cause fires around Israel. A forest fire broke out Sunday morning in Daliyat al-Karmel, a Druze town onn Mount Carmel, some 13 miles southeast of Haifa, News 0404 reported. Firefighters are at the burning forest, assisted by two firefighting planes.

Open area fires have broken out Sunday in Tel Mond, a suburb of Netanya, as well as near Route 85, between Acre and Jadeidi-Makr.

Firefighters have also been at work putting out a brush fire near Palmachim in Rishon Letzion, as well as another, similar fire near the Kesem Interchange on Toll Highway 6.

Residents have been evacuated from their homes as large firefighting forces—eight teams—are trying to overcome a major forest fire near Moshav Luzit south of Beit Shemesh. The fire has damaged local chicken coops. Four planes are involved in the operation.

Seven firefighting teams are fighting a fire in Mata, also near Beit Shemesh. Route 435 was closed to traffic. Another fire broke out near Abu Gosh, on the main highway to Jerusalem, and the wind is causing the fire to spread fast.

A natural forest in the neighborhood of Naveh Sha’anan in Haifa has been on fire on Monday, with six teams laboring to put it out. Yeshiva children nearby have been evacuated.

David Israel

Haifa University Discovers New Psychological Disorder: Maladaptive Daydreaming

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

A new psychological disorder has been identified in a series of recently published studies – Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD). Researchers from the University of Haifa, Fordham University in New York City, and University of Lausanne, Switzerland, have found that people with the disorder spend an average of 60% of their waking time in an imaginary world which they themselves have created, realizing that it is a fantasy, and without losing contact with the real world.

“Daydreaming usually starts as a small fantasy that makes people feel good, but over time the process becomes addictive until it takes over their lives,” explains Professor Eli Somer of the University of Haifa, one of the researchers and the first to identify the disorder. He continues: “At this stage the disorder is accompanied by feelings of shame and a sense of lack of fulfillment, but because till now the disorder has been unknown, when they come to receive treatment, therapists usually dismissed their complaints,”

Wandering of thoughts, fantasies and daydreams are part of the inner world of almost everyone, and they are depicted in popular culture. However, until now science has not addressed the pathological aspects of this, otherwise normal mental activity. A series of new studies published recently in several leading journals in psychology and psychiatry shed light on a psychological disorder that was not known until now. The story begins in 2002, when Prof. Somer was treating adults who had been sexually abused as children. Somer identified six survivors who used to escape regularly into a world of the imagination, where they fantasized compensatory empowering stories in which they enjoyed traits and life experiences that were missing in their real lives. Professor Somer named the phenomenon “maladaptive daydreaming” (MD) but at the time did not continue his investigation of the phenomenon. This article was followed in 2011 by a study by Jayne Bigelsen and Cynthia Schupak of 90 people who complained of excessive daydreaming. Their study that showed that MD is also spread among many individuals who have not had adverse childhoods. In the wake of these two studies, Somer and Bigelsen began to receive communications from countless individuals from around the world who related to them how they had suffered from exactly the same phenomenon, asking for their advise and help.

Together with Prof. Daniela Jopp from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and Liora Somer from the Multidisciplinary Center for the Treatment of Victims of Sexual Abuse at the B’nai Zion Medical Center in Haifa, he conducted two additional qualitative studies and interviewed dozens of individuals who claimed to be suffering from the phenomenon. In these studies, they discovered recurring themes. For example, although maladaptive daydreaming first started as a positive experience providing pleasure and relaxation, it quickly developed into an addictive habit that took over their lives and impaired their functioning. “Maladaptive daydreaming naturally necessitates isolation from others and is almost always accompanied by repetitive body motions, such as pacing or rocking. About a quarter of these individuals had endured childhood trauma and many suffered from social anxiety” said Professor Somer.

Somer and Jopp were recently joined by Jayne Bigelsen and Jonathan Lehrfeld, investigators from Fordham University in New York City, who shared similar interests. Together they published two extensive quantitative studies published very recently in the journal Consciousness and Cognition. One study reported the development and validation of a maladaptive daydreaming scale (MDS) using a large sample of 447 individuals. The MDS was shown to differentiate very well between normal and maladaptive daydreaming and offered the first diagnostic and research instrument for the newly discovered disorder. In the second study, 340 participants aged 13–78 from 45 countries from the world were tested. The data showed that individuals affected by the disorder spent about 60% of their waking time in daydreaming, and more than half said that the disorder disrupted their sleep and that the first thing they are aware of when they wake up in the morning is their urge to daydream. Respondents reported having rich fantasy worlds with complex storylines. They tended to daydream significantly more about fictional tales and characters, in contrast to the daydreaming among the control group which were usually anchored in reality (e.g., the desire to earn more money, to find an attractive partner, etc.).

JNi.Media

Technion Rabbi Arrested at Temple Mount

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Rabbi Dr. Elad Dukov of the Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa was arrested Monday afternoon, according to the Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

Dukov was taken into custody by Israeli security forces at the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, leaving five children stranded by themselves on the site, TPS reported.

The circumstances behind the rabbi’s arrest are not clear.

Last week, Rabbi Yehuda Glick of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation and Rabbi Yisrael Ariel of The Temple Institute were both arrested while visiting the site.

Thirteen visitors were detained Sunday while visiting the ancient site where both Jewish Holy Temples of Jerusalem once stood, 12 of them Jews. The Temple Mount is the holiest site on earth in Judaism, and the third holiest site in Islam.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Police: Haifa Religious Council Deceived over 100 Couples Seeking Independent Orthodox Wedding

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Employees of the Haifa Religious Council have deceived more than 100 couples who said they wanted to be married through the national-religious rabbinic organization Tzohar, Israel Police announced on Wednesday. A Tzohar initiative has made it possible for couples to register for marriage anywhere, and not strictly in their area of residence as used to be the case in Israel. The idea was to make less stringent Orthodox rabbis available to Israelis who didn’t wish for their wedding to be officiated by a Haredi rabbi. That change was received with great resistance on the part of the Chief Rabbinate, which is concerned for losing its monopoly on Orthodox weddings.

Police launched an investigation following a complaint by Tzohar that elements in the Haifa Religious Council are acting systematically against couples who register to be married by a Tzohar rabbi. Among other things, Tzohar accused the council of entering false information regarding the personal data of registrants. The complaint cites more than 100 such cases.

Police interrogated with a warning two employees of the Haifa Religious Council, one of them senior. Police also collected testimonies, seized documents, and executed a variety of investigative actions. As a result, police are saying they have sufficient evidence showing the alleged violations had indeed taken place because of the council’s objection on principle to Tzohar’s legitimacy. Police believe the senior council employee was aware of and turned a blind eye on the other employee’s mass violations.

Tzohar emailed JNi the following statement in response to the news story:

“Effectively investigating criminal action is critical for our national desire to rid out corruption and restore the public’s faith in those responsible for religious services in our country. It is deeply distressing that the rogue actions of a small group can so negatively tarnish the Jewish spirit in ways that have caused irreparable damage to the people of Israel.”

JNi.Media

Trump Vodka Bottles Seized in Passover Scam

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

By Jesse Lempel/TPS

Haifa (TPS) – Hundreds of bottles of Trump Vodka were seized by Israeli police for bearing phony “Kosher for Passover” labels in advance of the upcoming holiday, a police spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Police raided the storage room of “a known alcohol distributor in downtown Haifa” and found hundreds of Trump Vodka bottles with forged Passover-friendly stickers on them, the spokesperson said. Three people were detained for questioning on suspicion of having pasted the phony labels on the drink.

Vodka is typically made from fermented grain, a product forbidden on the Jewish holiday during which no leavened bread may be eaten. Trump Vodka, by contrast, is made from potatoes.

Wednesday’s raid and arrests were made following a report by the Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post exposing the Passover Trump Vodka scam.

“We discovered that instead of one of the ingredients that was supposed to be kosher for Passover, they used a different one,” the report quoted Rabbi David Silverstone of the OK Kosher certification organization.

Trump Vodka, which bears the brand of US billionaire and presidential candidate Donald Trump, has been out of business for years in most parts of the world. Nevertheless, the beverage has gained unlikely popularity in Israel for one week per year in the niche market of kosher-for-Passover vodkas.

Trump sued the Israeli company producing Trump Vodka in 2011 in a licensing dispute yet eventually settled the case. “Israel’s demand for high quality products and attraction to powerful brand names is a wonderful platform for the Trump brand,” the company said in a press release on Trump.com.

Donald Trump touted the alleged success of Trump Vodka—alongside Trump Steaks and Trump Water—in his victory speech following the Florida Republican primary in March.

“It was a successful product, which continues to be popular abroad,” Trump said of his vodka in a statement to Bloomberg on Wednesday.

With the latest pre-Passover police raid, however, a few hundred bottles of the beverage have been taken off the Israeli market.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

US Navy in Israel. vs. US Navy in Iran

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Came across this on Twitter, comparing and contrasting the welcome the US Navy received from Israel vs. Iran.

Which country would you rather sign a treaty with?

Photo of the Day

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/us-navy-in-israel-vs-us-navy-in-iran/2016/02/22/

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