Wednesday, February 24, 2016

You can't dance at two weddings with one pair of feet

From the website of my daughter's school: A financial crisis there means all therapies
have been savagely cut-back, effective immediately 
As February 2016 - Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month - draws to a close, here are some numbers to mull over. They come courtesy of the Leadership Conference on People with Disabilities in Israel ("Paving the Way Towards Person-Centered Services") which was held on February 8, 2016.

Along with much invaluable information, here is what one speaker told the audience:
Despite progress, in the United States ~28,000 people remain in large state ID/DD institutions and 140,000 people are still in private institutions out of a total population of 319 million. Israel has ~10,000 such people institutionalized in a country of 8 million!
The real problem is that those who are paid to be, and should be, disturbed by this are not.

So we have the Ruderman Foundation sounding off persistently about the need for greater inclusion, independence and in-community living  for people with disabilities. Yet their website boasts two articles praising the work of Aleh, one dated 2012, the other 2013.  Wasn't there ample time to delete them if the Foundation had progressed beyond that archaic outlook?

During this year's Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month, we saw a fresh PR release by Aleh ("The wisdom of the disabled", February 14, 2016) in the pages of Yisrael Hayom, reputed to be PM Netanyahu's mouthpiece. Written by an Aleh spokesperson, it appeared as a news item, replete with the usual, jargony disingenuous gobbledygook intended to deflect readers' attention from the discrimination against people with disabilities that is, in fact, Aleh's raison d'etre. Oh, and along with the usual linguistic mistakes.

Here is an excerpt:
When discussing our potentials, we continually focus on long-term self-actualization goals like finding a rewarding career and reaching for our ideal levels of physical and mental health. But I have always wondered if we are missing something, if perhaps by prescribing (sic) to this definition of fulfillment, we obscure the bigger picture... Working as a special education teacher at ALEH, Israel's largest network of residential facilities for children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities, I tend to focus on a different kind of potential when working with my students. For example, while most 6-year-olds are occupied with the challenge of learning to read, ALEH students in the same age group work diligently toward the goals of holding a spoon and recognizing their own names.
The piece is particularly infuriating to me because this month the school which my daughter Chaya attends entered "financial-crisis mode". Since its inception over two decades ago, this has been a private school funded by overseas donations. That source has now dried up and the place is being left to flounder until the next school year when it will be "adopted" by the Ministry of Education and the Jerusalem Municipality. Until then, our children will suffer drastic cuts in therapies - which were already a mere drop in the bucket - and in staffing.

Where is our government? Where is the prime minister who claims (in this YouTube clip, for instance) to be so concerned about Israel's children with disabilities.

Chaya will not benefit from the anticipated return to a semblance of normality in September 2016. That's because at the end of this current academic year she will be 21 years old and the powers-that-be consider that an appropriate age for her to "graduate".  She will be off-loaded to, well, pretty much a vacuum of care.

One option we have been offered is a "moadon" where she could sit for the morning hours and vegetate along with 11 other profoundly disabled young adults under the care of ONE employee.

Of course, there is the option of sending her to Aleh, awash with funds. But why are those funds not used to help families keep their children living at home with their loving families?

If you have an answer, I invite you to share it with me and other readers. (About the title of this post, see this source.)

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