Monday, May 12, 2014

Room for Hope: A Special Education Seminar

By Dr. Avia Guttman ,
Special Education Department, Elkana Campus

On Wednesday, 10 Adar II 5774 (March 12, 2014), Orot Israel College’s Special Education Department organized a one-day seminar designed to meet the needs of Orot’s special education students and to help prepare them for their chosen careers. The seminar’s primary message was that in spite of the many challenges and difficulties faced by special needs children, there is room for hope. With the support of their families and their special education teachers, these children can develop and progress according to their unique abilities and talents.
Rav Dr. Moshe Rachimi, Orot’s academic dean, greeted the participants, citing the words from Tehilim, "עולם חסד יבנה" (literally, “a world of loving kindness will be built” - Tehilim 89:3), Dr. Rachimi extolled Orot’s special education students who do their field work in schools and preschools and described their important contributions.
Mrs. Tzippy Meshulam of the Lomdim L’Hatzliach “toolbox” company spoke about learning strategies and showed how they can be used to help students with learning disabilities. After introducing her eight books about reading comprehension, written expression, and more, she gave each Orot student a laminated sheet with many of her helpful tips and suggestions. All of her books are available for the students’ use at Orot’s state-of-the-art pedagogic center.
Next, Dr. Michal Schreiber-Divon discussed dating and protection. She said that the Orot students – as future teachers – must be aware of the fact that special needs children also undergo puberty and experience physiological and psychological changes which affect their sexuality. Dr. Schreiber-Divon addressed this issue with a great deal of modesty and discretion. During the course of her talk, she screened a number of related videos, which helped the Orot students gain a better appreciation of this sensitive topic.
Finally, students were treated to a moving, delightful play entitled “An Angel with Down’s Syndrome,” which tells the story of Dekel, a young man with Down’s syndrome, and his brother Ofer. When the performance was over, Dr. Avia Guttman, head of Orot’s special education department, observed, “I saw many students with ‘crying-laughing’ eyes – eyes with both laughter and tears together.” Following the play, Ofer spoke to the audience, and he and Dekel patiently answered the students’ numerous questions.
Special thanks to Orot Israel College’s administration and staff, the various speakers, and of course our dear students for ensuring that the seminar was a huge success.

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