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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘study’

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.


Study Shows Many UK Muslims Hold Extremist, Anti-Semitic Views

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

{Originally posted to the IPT website}

The former head of Britain’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Trevor Phillips, argued that Muslims are establishing “nations within nations” in the West and admitted that he “got almost everything wrong” about immigration, in a column for the Sunday Times.

Phillips analyzed the findings of the most comprehensive study on Muslim attitudes in the United Kingdom (U.K.), which will serve as the foundation for a documentary commissioned by Britain’s Channel 4 entitled “What British Muslims Really Think.”

Many Muslims maintain significantly different values from the rest of society and prefer to live in separation, Phillips claimed.

The Channel 4 program is based off an ICM poll. It finds that more than 20 percent of British Muslims believe the country should be governed by sharia law, while close to 40 percent of Muslims – both male and female – believe a woman should always be obedient to her husband. About a third of Muslims respondents say it is okay for a man to have more than one wife, while more than half want homosexuality outlawed.

Moreover, two-thirds of British Muslims surveyed would not inform the police if they believed that someone they know became involved with terrorists. The findings also show that more than 100,000 Muslims in Britain sympathize with terrorists and suicide bombers.

The poll also revealed that British Muslims were more likely to have anti-Semitic beliefs than other British citizens. Over a third of Muslims in Britain believed that “Jews have too much power in the U.K.” and dominated the media and financial institutions. More than 25 percent questioned believe Jews are responsible for most of the world’s ongoing wars and 27 percent reported that people “hate” Jews because of their behavior.In 1997, Phillips commissioned a report about Muslims in Britain which introduced and popularized the ‘Islamophobia’ label that is now synonymous with any criticism of Islam or Muslims. He now admits that report failed to predict many individuals within Muslim communities hold radical views and do not seek to integrate into British society.

“It’s not as though we couldn’t have seen this coming. But we’ve repeatedly failed to spot the warning signs,” Phillips wrote in the Times.

In a Daily Mail article, Phillips describes a “life-and-death struggle for the soul of British Islam,” arguing that extremists have infiltrated in some Muslim communities and drowned out moderate Muslim voices.

“Indeed, a significant minority of Britain’s three million Muslims consider us a nation of such low morals that they would rather live more separately from their non-Muslim countrymen, preferably under sharia law,” Phillips says.

Phillips also warned of Islamist hardliners taking over UK schools and imposing a radical agenda, as evidenced by the ‘Trojan Horse’ case in Birmingham. These developments led Phillips to call for more robust measures and strict monitoring to mitigate the emergence of “ghetto villages,” or ethno-religious enclaves that remain separate from the remainder of society.

Radical sentiments among Britain’s Muslim community reflect research from across Europe that suggests Muslim attitudes are becoming more extreme, particularly among younger generations.

IPT-Investigative Project on Terrorism

‘Israeli Air Force is Best in the World’

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Israel ranks at the top of the list in a new study published in Business Insider, listing the 15 strongest military forces in the Middle East. Analysts who conducted the study, however, also ranked Israel’s air force Number One in comparison with other air force worldwide.

“The balance of power in the Middle East is in disarray,” stated the article, which saw more than 720,000 hits on the publication’s website in less than 24 hours.

“Every country in the region is building up its own military.”

Israel’s $15 billion defense budget, 176,500 active front line personnel with 3,870 tanks and 680 aircraft placed the Jewish State at the top of the list.

Turkey’s military force was listed in second place.

Military analysts noted that both Jewish and Druze citizens are drafted to serve in the IDF, and that Israel has defended itself against “a diverse range of enemies” since 1948.

“A close defense relationship with the U.S. and an energetic domestic defense industry give Israel a qualitative edge over all of the region’s other militaries,” Business Insider commented.

A major scoring point was the quality of Israel’s air force, which the publication emphasized has incredibly high entry and training standards.

“Pilot to pilot, airframe to airframe, the Israeli air force is the best in the world,” said Chris Harmer, senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War and an analyst in the study.

“Israel also has one of the region’s most battle-ready armies, a force that has fought in four major engagements since 2006 and has experience securing a few of the most problematic borders on earth.

“Israel’s military has also never attempted a coup or ruled the country directly, unlike several others on this list,” analysts wrote.

Hana Levi Julian

Common Blood Pressure Drug Prevents Post-TBI Epilepsy

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Israeli researchers working with an international team have discovered that a common blood pressure medication can prevent epilepsy from developing after a traumatic brain injury.

The discovery is described in an article published in the current issue of the Annals of Neurology.

Physiology and Neurobiology Professor Alon Friedman works at the Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in southern Israel. He worked with Daniela Kaufer, UC Berkeley Associate Professor of Integrative Biology at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and Uwe Heinemann of Charite-University Medicine in Germany on the 10-year study.

In 60 percent of the experimental rats tested, the medication – losartan (Cozaar) – prevented the development of seizures following injury in which 100 percent of controls developed seizures. Of the 40 percent that did develop seizures, the researchers said the rats averaged only one quarter of the number of seizures typical for untreated subjects.

Medication administered for three weeks following injury was sufficient to prevent most cases of epilepsy in normal subjects in the subsequent months, the researchers said.

“This is the first-ever approach in which epilepsy development is stopped,” Friedman explained, “as opposed to common drugs that try to prevent seizures once epilepsy develops… so we are excited about the new approach.”

The researcher added that the study provided a new way to potentially prevent epilepsy in patients after brain injuries occurred, and once they had already developed an abnormal blood-brain barrier. The best news, he said, is that the drug stops the epilepsy from starting, rather than simply suppresses the symptoms.

Hana Levi Julian

The State of the Jew According to Pew

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Pew conducted a study of Jews in America and has released a comprehensive report based on its findings. Nearly 2800 religious Jewish people were interviewed and the results of those interviews make up the model for the results of the study. It’s difficult conduct a study like this and achieve meaningful results. I am not a statistician nor can I compare the sample sizes used in this study with others. To my untrained eye, it seems small.

There are many very interesting findings to discuss. I have three things I want to say about the study.

First, people will point to the staggering number of orthodox Jews who are no longer orthodox. That number is 52%. It seems impossible to believe. That means that over half of people raised orthodox are no longer orthodox. Think about the orthodox Jewish friends and family you know. Does it make sense to say that over half of them are no longer orthodox? I don’t think so.

If you drill down a bit you notice a couple of things. For starters, I know many people who say they were raised orthodox because they went to a yeshiva or modern orthodox school even if they weren’t frum at home. I went to school with several people like that. Those people certainly skew the numbers. After all, the study relied on self identification. There was no process to classify people into categories other than to ask them.

But the real key here what the numbers are for young people being raised in contemporary orthodoxy. Those numbers are impressive. 83% of people raised as orthodox Jews under the age of 30 stay. This is a huge success. It’s also a number that correlates with anecdotal evidence. So the people who were raised orthodox and no longer are orthodox are mostly older people. What does this mean?

It means one of two things or perhaps a hybrid of two. [It doesn’t mean that orthodox Jews leave the fold in their 30’s and 40’s at alarmingly high rates.] It could either mean that orthodoxy is much stronger today than it was 20 and 30 years ago. People get a better Jewish education, there is more insularity, and the shift to ultra orthodoxy which outnumbers modern orthodoxy by nearly 10:1 in this demographic is working to keep more orthodox Jews orthodox. Alternatively, it signifies a shift in who attends orthodox schools. In other words, 20-30 years ago it was far more likely for a family to send a child to an orthodox school and identify as orthodox even if they were not totally observant of halacha. There was more cross-pollination and there were fewer non-orthodox options. So you wind up with more people from previous generations identifying as being raised orthodox even though they weren’t truly orthodox through and through. This is rarer today because we are more insular and non-orthodox or unaffiliated Jews feel less comfortable in orthodox institutions. The truth is likely a combination of the two but the latter does concern me.

Also, very few middle aged and older people consider themselves ultra-orthodox. It’s a youth movement. Sure, some mellow out and switch affiliation. But it’s also a recent phenomena that is sweeping orthodoxy. It’s pretty compelling evidence that what is happening now for the under 40 orthodox Jew is different from what their parents and grandparents experienced. It’s a different kind of Judaism. The numbers bear it out.

Next, the non-orthodox denominations are falling apart. The numbers support the rumblings and rumors regarding the demise of Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism is dwindling as well. Some orthodox Jews like to cheer while these two denominations begin to disappear. Others view it as a sign that those Jews must be saved and brought into orthodox Judaism.

I think that it is important for Judaism that non-orthodox denominations are strong and vibrant. I think that orthodox Jews should be concerned and make efforts to help revive non-orthodox Judaism. This sounds controversial and heretical but it’s really not. Orthodox Judaism is not going to magically become the Judaism for the 89% of non-orthodox Jews. We can either wish them well and watch them disappear or we can try to keep them connected to their Jewish heritage. I think the latter choice is preferable. Now we can either keep them connected by “making them orthodox” as if that is even possible, or we can rely on strong non-orthodox denominations to keep them in the fold. I think the latter choice is preferable here too. It’s certainly the more likely option to achieve widespread success. While resources are precious in the orthodox community, I think strengthening the non-orthodox denominations is a worthy endeavor. They are also our brothers and sisters. If we value what we have, we should do whatever we can to help them stay somewhat connected to their Judaism. A little bit of a good thing is a whole lot better than nothing.

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink

Majority of American Jews are Intermarried

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

NEW YORK (JTA) — First the good news: There are a lot more Jews in America than you may have thought — an estimated 6.8 million, according to a new study.

Now the bad news: A growing proportion of American Jews are unlikely to raise their children Jewish or connect with Jewish institutions. The proportion of Jews who say they have no religion and are Jewish only on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity or culture is growing rapidly, and two-thirds of them are not raising their children Jewish at all.

Overall, the intermarriage rate is at 58 percent, up from 43 percent in 1990 and 17 percent in 1970.

The data on Jewish engagement come from the Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews, a telephone survey of 3,475 Jews nationwide conducted between February and June and released on Tuesday.

The population estimate, released Monday, comes from a synthesis of existing survey data conducted by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute and the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University.

While the estimate is likely to be a matter of some debate by demographers and social scientists, it is the Pew study that offers an in-depth portrait that may influence Jewish policymaking for years to come.

Among the more notable findings of the Pew survey:

* Thirty-two percent of Jews born after 1980 — the so-called millennial generation — identify as Jews of no religion, compared to 19 percent of baby boomers and just 7 percent of Jews born before 1927. Overall, 22 percent of U.S. Jews describe themselves as having no religion, meaning they are much less connected to Jewish organizations and much less likely to be raising their children Jewish.

* The emotional attachment to Israel has held steady over the last decade, with 69 percent of respondents saying they feel attached or very attached to Israel. Forty-three percent of respondents said they had been to Israel.

* Far more respondents said having a good sense of humor was essential to their Jewish identity than observing Jewish law — 42 percent compared to 19 percent.

* Approximately one-quarter of Jews said religion is very important in their lives, compared to 56 percent among Americans generally.

Among Jewish denominations, the Reform movement remains the largest with 35 percent of respondents identifying as Reform. The second-largest group is Jews of no denomination (30 percent), followed by Conservative (18 percent) and Orthodox (10 percent).

As with other studies, the Pew study found that the Orthodox share of the American Jewish population is likely to grow because Orthodox Jews tend to be younger and have larger families than Jews generally.

In addition, while past surveys showed about half of respondents raised as Orthodox were no longer Orthodox, the Orthodox retention rate appears to be improving, with just a 17 percent falloff among 18- to 29-year-olds.

Most denominational switching among American Jews, however, remains in the direction of less traditional Judaism.

In the Pew survey, 90 percent of those who identified as Jews by religion and are raising children said they are raising them Jewish. By comparison, less than one-third of those who identified themselves as Jews of no religion are raising their kids as Jewish.

Among inmarried Jews, 96 percent are raising their children as Jews by religion (as opposed to ethnicity), compared to 45 percent among intermarried Jews.

On Jewish observance, some 70 percent of respondents to the Pew survey said they participated in a Passover seder in 2012 and 53 percent said they fasted for all or part of Yom Kippur that year. The numbers represent declines from the 2000-01 National Jewish Population Survey conducted by the Jewish Federations of North America, which found seder participation rates at 78 percent and Yom Kippur fasting at 60 percent.

While most of those surveyed by Pew said they felt a strong connection to Israel, and 23 percent reported having visited the Jewish state more than once, the respondents expressed significant reservations about the current Israeli government’s policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians.

Forty-four percent said West Bank settlement construction hurts Israel’s security interests, and only 17 percent said continued settlement construction is helpful to Israeli security. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said the Israeli government is making a sincere peace effort with the Palestinians.

Uriel Heilman

What’s Your Sin? Removing the Number One Stumbling Block in Your Life

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

With the High Holidays rapidly approaching, we begin to take stock of our lives. Here are five fundamental and common sins. Which one is your biggest stumbling block?

Wronging others. We may have wronged others emotionally or financially. We frequently excuse our behavior by saying, “I didn’t intend any harm. I was just…” But good intentions do not whitewash sinful acts.

Ask yourself, “Is there anyone I offended or whose feelings I have hurt? Have I caused someone distress? Have I made fun of someone (even good-naturedly)? Do I owe anyone money? Have I reneged on an agreement? Have I enriched myself at the expense of others?”

You may think, “I’ll straighten it out later. I’ll make good in the end.” But repentance is only possible while you are in this world. Nobody knows which day will be their last. Once a person’s body shuts down, so do the gates of repentance. Whatever you can correct, do so while you still can.

Action steps: Can you recall any time you hurt someone, perhaps a friend, neighbor, family member, fellow congregant or business associate? Even if you think you have both moved on since then, you still need to make amends and/or apologize.

Hating your fellow Jew. Perhaps you do not hate anybody, but how about intensely dislike? Are there people you cannot be with and feel distaste just looking at them?

We do not have to go out of our way to spend time with people we do not like; often, it is good to limit contact with those who push our buttons. But we are forbidden to harbor personal animosity toward our fellow Jew, as the Torah cautions us (Leviticus 19:17), “Do not hate your brother in your heart…”

Some people just rub us the wrong way. When we look at them, we think about their real or imagined faults. Instead, remind yourself that you do not know everything about them and judge them favorably. In addition, think about their good points. Everyone has good qualities and has done good deeds. Search for and admire the good in others.

Action steps: Make a list of those you dislike. Write down their admirable qualities and the good they have done. Next time you see them, bring to mind what you wrote and try to give them a genuine smile and greeting.

Being callous. Sometimes, our issue is not that we have wronged others, or that we hate them, it is that we ignore them. Often, we are so focused on our own lives that we do not pay enough attention to others. We may ignore the difficulties they have, perhaps in finding a job or a spouse, coping with illness or paying bills. Although we cannot help everyone, we still have to do whatever we can. Pirkei Avot reminds us, “It is not your responsibility to complete the work, yet you are not free to withdraw from it (2:21).”

When we hear about a difficulty or tragedy, often our reaction is, “What a pity. Thank God I’m not affected.” And we go on with business as usual. But we are affected: Our brothers and sisters are struggling. We have to ask ourselves, “How can I help? What can I do?” If you cannot provide physical, financial or emotional assistance, do not minimize the importance of including them in your prayers.

Action steps: Devote a portion of your time and resources to helping others. At least each week, preferably daily, do an act of kindness. When you meet someone, show an interest in that individual and see if you can be of assistance.

Neglecting our relationship with God. Sometimes, people get so busy with daily life they forget about their Creator. God created us to have a relationship with Him. Each day we do not develop this relationship is a day lost forever.

Action steps: Every day, connect with God by: Praying to Him, performing a mitzvah mindfully, sensing His presence, thanking Him for one of His blessings and thinking about how He guides every aspect of your life for your highest good.

An essential part of having a relationship with God is not disrespecting Him. For example, we must ensure that we do not talk during davening or leave the synagogue while the haftarah is being read.

Yaakov Weiland

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/whats-your-sin-removing-the-number-one-stumbling-block-in-your-life/2013/08/22/

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