Successes and Stories
Shema Kolainu's Small Miracles
Moving On Up
Jonas started at Shema Kolainu - Hear Our Voices shortly before his third birthday. When he came to us he had a very limited amount of language, only being able to use a few words. Jonas had no play skills or social skills and was demonstrating self-stimulatory behaviors such rocking back and forth, lining up toys, flapping of hands, and making animal sounds. Children with autism often exhibit these behaviors because it keeps them from becoming overloaded with sensory information.
At Shema Kolainu - Hear Our Voices we use Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) which entails the comprehensive application of behavioral principles to enhance the development, abilities and self direction skills of children and adults. Thanks to the field of ABA, children like Jonas have been able to make greater strides than anyone might have imagined just a few decades ago.
By the age of five Jonas was doing so well that he was able to be mainstreamed mid-year 2011/2012. The Educational team in Shema Kolainu felt that Jonas would benefit from a general education setting where can gain the proper prerequisites to make new friends, learn in group settings, and become a part of his neighborhood's school community. He has adjusted wonderfully to a class of 25 students with one teacher and an assistant coming from a class of six students, one teacher and three assistants.
All of our staff is so proud of Jonas, as is his mother who keeps in constant contact with us to let us know how well he is doing.
Girls Just Want to Have Fun
Maya started at Shema Kolainu - Hear Our Voices when she was three and a half. Our teachers remember when she came to us that she had severely limited language and was infatuated with the letter W. She would walk around with a teabag with the letter W on it and just repeat "W" over and over all day.
Repetitive behavior also known as stimulatory behaviors can be a source of enjoyment for children with autism spectrum disorders and a way to cope with everyday life. On the other hand, they can also limit involvement in other activities and cause distress on the child and the immediate individuals surrounding him or her.
The teachers integrated this behavior with the letter W into Maya's programs - using it as a reinforcer and incorporating the letter W into her token economy schedule. Fortunately after conditioning procedures and using Applied Behavior Analysis, the behavior was replaced with an alternative behavior that is socially appropriate. Now, at age seven, her language and academics have progressed to a point that that she is ready to transfer to the less restrictive environment of eight students, one teacher and one assistant, with more advanced learners.
The Educational Coordinator at Shema Kolainu - Hear Our Voices, Chani Katz, was blown away by Maya's success, "Everyone finds it a miracle. Her psychologist, her evaluators, anyone who worked with her from early intervention to today can't believe she's the same Maya that we met a few years ago."
Maya has developed friendships and become socially aware. She is now able to express her likes and dislikes. She voices her wants to interact with other girls, play girly games and wear colorful dresses. Maya has officially turned into our Princess.
It's a Tie
One of our students, Aaron, is very close with his father, he enjoys going to temple with him and dressing up accordingly. Numerous times Aaron saw Dr. Joshua Weinstein, the CEO and Founder of Shema Kolainu - Hear Our Voices, walking down the hall with a tie, like his father does every Saturday. He began talking to Dr. Weinstein about the tie, temple and Saturday whenever possible. Dr. Weinstein, called Aaron into his office one morning, he had a very special present for Aaron - his very own tie. Aaron was so proud to have his own tie. By giving him a tie, Dr. Weinstein was able to connect Aaron's life outside of the school to his school environment, fostering a close bond with the student that is evident until this day.