As one approaches Beit HaYeladim, a kindergarten in the Jerusalem suburb of Ramat Eshkol, it looks like any kindergarten in Israel. Immediately on entering the premises one notices a petting corner replete with chickens, goats and other animals in the menagerie. One wonders how many other kindergartens have a petting corner on the premises.
Then you start talking to the kindergarten’s managers Shai and Michal Lifshitz and you start to realize how special this kindergarten is!
Among the children that attend Beit HaYeladim are a not insignificant number of autistic children integrated amongst the children without special needs. In each age group there are approximately 6 out of 26 children with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Some 20 years ago, parents of an autistic child living in Jerusalem realized that the needs of their, and other parent’s children, were not being met. That father embarked on a one-man sit-in protest on the doorstep of then-Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert. After about a week, as the legend goes, Olmert’s wife gave him an ultimatum: “Do something about the guy out front! Either he goes or I don’t come home. It’s either him or me.”
That father was Shai Lifshitz! Ehud Olmert convinced the Jerusalem municipality to allocate the current premises of Beit HaYeladim for the special school.
Dr. David Wilensky told us of the tremendous impact integrating the autistic children with normal children and how he has observed great improvements in the autistic children’s progress during their attendance. We observed one child, Dennis, who was completely incommunicative when he arrived about 3 1/2 years ago. “Look at him now! About a year ago he started responding to those around him and now he is talking and communicating,” Dr. Wilensky said.
Israel Today would like to thank you, our supporters and friends, that made it possible to cheer up the special children of Beit HaYeladim on Purim with gift bags of goodies!
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