Friday, November 26, 2010

Autistics in the Army: Not Ours but Israel's

Here is an interesting article I came across about the inclusion of autistic teens into an army. No not the US army but the Israeli Defense Forces. (Heck the US army can't deal with the fact that gay people may be serving in our armed forces, of course that is not a problem for the IDF and hasn't been for decades.) If you know anything about Israel, the army is a major entrance way into adult life. Dan Senor writes in his book Start Up Nation that it is the army experience and respect for the army in everyday Israeli life that has contributed to the economic miracle that happens to be Israel. (Senor contrasts the attitude of employers in the United States to those in Israel. Unfortunately and sadly ironic, the experience that American soldiers have had in the armed services tends to be held against them in this nation.) So to find a way to include autistic teens into the Israeli army is just another way of including them in the life blood of the country. Meanwhile, here in the US our Congress still can't decide whether its illegal to abuse an autistic child in school..

Notice how at the end of the article the IDF has actually trained personnel on how to help and work with the autistic individuals under their command. There will be job coaches with the teens as well. Considering how we have to fight here in the US to just get our children the services that they need, as well as end up bankrupting ourselves in order to help our children, it is nice to see that somewhere out there autistic individuals are seen as worthwhile human beings.

It is also apropos that the largest research center for autism related disorders has opened in Jerusalem.
From YNet News Nov. 25, 2010 - Zohar Pe'er, 21, was one of 10 young men to make history Monday by becoming the IDF's first autistic soldiers. After a short recruitment ceremony, the new soldiers will head to various equipment bases to begin volunteering in their workshops.

"This is great," Zohar, who generally does not express much emotion, whispered as he prepared for the big day. His mother agreed, saying she was waiting expectantly to see her son in uniform.
In recent years the IDF has been enlisting into its ranks more and more diverse populations. A few months ago Yedioth Ahronoth reported that youths suffering from mental disorders can volunteer as well.

The most recent change in policy was brought about by Leah Rabin Middle School in Petah Tikva, which caters to autistic teens. The teachers, who believe their students have much to contribute to the state, appealed to the IDF with the suggestion.

The army decided to take the school up on its offer, and visited the school in order to learn of the special treatment needed for autistic teens. Meanwhile, parents toured the equipment bases at which sons are to serve.

"We learned up close how to communicate with autistic people and cooperate with them so that we can properly escort them through their army service," Captain Moran Cherney-Cohen, who chairs the Central Command's volunteer department.

Meanwhile, Cherney-Cohen says the IDF is prepared 
to welcome its new recruits. "In addition to professional trainers who will accompany them during their first days, there will also be officers who underwent special training with them at all times," she explained.  


There is no question that we in the United States can do better by our children and we need to find a way to make our elected officials realize their own ignorance on the matter. Ideas are welcome.

Meanwhile, as anyone who reads my tweets, blogs or posts knows I am unabashedly pro-Israel. I think this is not just because I am Jewish but also because Israel is unabashedly pro-US. Here is a wonderful picture from the Thanksgiving holidays. No it is not a picture of the US troops in Afghanistan eating turkey and stuffing. But it is a picture of some turkey eating out of the Middle East...

Just in case there are those who don't understand the close relationship between the US and Israel here is a picture of American-Israeli soldiers celebrating Thanksgiving in Tel Aviv at the Lone Soldiers Center.

Tell me what other army would grant leave so their soldiers could celebrate the national holiday of another nation?


Meanwhile for anyone who has a bug up their butt about Israel and happens to read the anti-Semitic drivel coming out of the UN, the EU and the Islamic world remember the UN at the urging of the Islamic bloc just passed a resolution that it is just fine and dandy to kill someone because they are gay. Here is also a link to a past post I wrote about Jew hatred and Israel, and how it relates to our autistic children, make sure you scroll down to the videos at the end. It is interesting how the dehumanization of persons is endemic worldwide. It is also important to remember that hatred usually starts with the disabled and ends up chewing up everyone else in its path.You can also read my other blog Liberty's Spirit for some more information on the subject.

Until next time,