Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Behind the slick PR, something disturbing at Aleh

Oops. Did the Aleh PR team goof?

It recently uploaded a video clip [here] featuring parents who handed their children over to that institution on a permanent basis. One parent's comments are so incriminating of Aleh that it leads a person to wonder whether the normally slick Aleh PR team were asleep at the wheel.

In the clip, three parents whose children live at Aleh institutions relate their decisions to remove the child from the family home.

One father says:
"When Roni was 4, my wife was killed in a car accident, Roni's mother. The phone rang. I answered and heard, "Shalom. My name is Yehuda Marmorstein, I'm CEO of Aleh. I heard about what happened to you and I want you to know that there's a place in Jerusalem where Roni can be..."
So much for the contention that parents turn to Aleh in desperation and without alternative options. This father is saying he was approached by the CEO of Aleh who urged him to hand his child over to their care. Apparently nobody from any government body or social service agency reached out to this widower with alternative solutions to his predicament. If they did, they made no impact on him because he only mentions Aleh's Rabbi Marmorstein.

The other parents, a married couple, interviewed for the clip, emphasize how helpless and incompetent many parents feel when they learn that their child has serious disabilities.

Now this is clearly a view that Aleh is keen to disseminate. But is it accurate? 

Parents' intuition about their children is a known and highly regarded phenomenon. They are rarely clueless. Quite the contrary. And with the input of professionals in school and at-home therapies, parents can equip themselves to raise even the most profoundly-disabled children in an exemplary manner.

This is a truth that Aleh seems eager to conceal. They encourage this father's sentiment:
"It's a hard decision, but we knew for sure that it was right. Part of raising a special needs child is to know when to let go. [In the video clip, Aleh translates the term "להרפות" as "to step back" but it actually means "to let go", a less palatable characteristic of institutionalization.] To know I can give her what I can give at home. And she can get the rest of what she needs somewhere else."
Another parent is quoted saying
"They know here much better than I do what he can do and how much more he can still advance in every area, whether it has to do with technology or it has to do with care".
So evidently Aleh convinces these parents of special children that, unlike the challenge of raising healthy children, this is one they are incapable of facing. 

It is a despicable message. 

I believe it is the duty of the professionals in contact with these parents to counter and even to condemn it. Clearly, in many instances, those professionals - doctors, therapists, social workers - have dropped the ball.

As one of the fathers I mentioned above wonders:
"What can you do? What treatments can you give? Where can you put him? These questions arise and there are no real answers."
Actually there are myriad real answers other than Aleh - for instance day care followed by special schools that fill a child's day with therapies and attention six days a week. His question is baffling as I know from personal experience.

A concluding line spoken by the mother of that child demonstrates how confused these parents are. She says: 
"Aleh enables a family like ours to raise their child and live a normal life. It's the right balance."
Who will enlighten her? Who will break the harsh news to her? She is not raising her child in any sense of the word. That is a mission she has abdicated.

1 comment:

  1. Here's a video in English of a parent saying similar things as the above blog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32gAEb-DGMM