Parents with special needs children confront a wide variety of issues dealing with their children’s education, socialization, and acceptance into the greater Jewish community. As part of its far-reaching services to the special needs community, Yachad/National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD) conducted an Educational Consultation Day at its New Jersey office in Teaneck to meet one-on-one with families who have children with a wide variety of special needs.
Yachad/NJCD is an agency of the Orthodox Union that provides educational and social inclusion programs for children and adults with learning and developmental disabilities.
The consultations were conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director of Yachad/NJCD, and Chani Hermann, Director of New Jersey Yachad. According to Dr. Lichtman, such a consultation with a private practitioner would cost an average of $500.
Dr. Lichtman declared, “When a family has a child with special needs, it is often difficult to figure out what the ideal thing is to do for them or what is the best way to support them. The purpose of Educational Consultation Day was to help parents understand what challenges their child’s diagnosis will bring and to help them realize school options for their child; services they are eligible to receive; and referrals to outside professionals who may be of great assistance to them and their children. This is just one of the many unique ways in which Yachad responds to the various needs of parents who have a child with special needs have.
“The course of action for the parents and children is very individual for each family,” Dr. Lichtman continued. “In some cases, it’s my going to observe the child so that I can make the most accurate assessments and recommendations; in other cases, it’s me reviewing evaluations and reports to make suggestions. Then parents will often follow up with me after new information becomes available or when new challenges or opportunities present themselves. Sometimes, children with fairly mild learning disabilities can be in mainstream schools, or there will be children with severe multiple disabilities, and everything in between.”
In a comparison appropriate for the upcoming holiday, Dr. Lichtman stated, “We are about to celebrate Passover and experience the seder, which features four sons, each requiring different approaches to maximize his individual potential and facilitate his inclusion in and contribution to the community. The Educational Consultation Day in the best tradition helps parents fulfill their parental responsibilities to their children.”
The feedback both Dr. Lichtman and Mrs. Hermann received was overwhelmingly positive. As one grateful parent wrote to Dr. Lichtman praising the event:
“I really appreciate having had the opportunity to meet with you yesterday in regards to my son. As I’m sure you know, it has been an overwhelming experience trying to sift through the jargon and figure out in a short period of time what is the best decision to make for my son’s educational future. I think it was really helpful to hear from an objective expert. Thank you for giving of your time!”
For more information about Yachad and the services it provides, contact Chani Hermann at firstname.lastname@example.org or 201-833-1349.