Editor's Note: Miriam's reflection originally appeared on the Shutaf blog. We want to share the experiences living through the sirens for people with disabilities and will feature another voice from Jerusalem next week.
Parents of children, teens and adults with disabilities see the world through a very different prism – a unique prism of worry. We worry about different and more things than the rest of you do. The things that are obvious, attainable and easy for typical children can be huge obstacles for a child or young adult with special needs. Other 18-year-olds are moving on to a new stage in life – completing a gap year, going into the army or national service. At our house, we’re trying to get Vinnie to serve herself lunch.
This latest surreal situation in Israel is scary, especially for Israelis in the south. I can’t imagine. While Jerusalem has been relatively quiet, Vinnie was outdoors during one siren and the loud noise freaked her out. She’s been uptight since then, has had trouble falling asleep and bad dreams.
I worry if I’ll be able to wake Vinnie from a deep sleep so that she’ll cooperate and run down the three flights to the bomb shelter in our building. I worry if she’ll act fast enough and figure out what to do if a siren goes off while she’s out walking the dog. I accompanied her one day but she wants to do it herself. (Something we worked hard on to help her gain confidence and be able to do this on her own.)
Vinnie’s not going to her school’s summer program because they don’t have any bomb shelters or safe rooms. She’s bored at home, missing her routine. Luckily, my husband and I work at home and we are coordinating our time so that we don’t leave her alone in case a siren goes off.
We’re always treading a fine line between protecting her and helping her learn new skills and gain self confidence so she can enjoy being a young adult and become more independent. Yet, in crazy times like these it’s really hard to keep sight of that line. We’re trying to continue a daily routine yet keeping her safe might mean losing a lot of hard earned achievements.
So who can sleep?
Miriam Avraham is Shutaf Inclusion Programs Co-founder and Administrative Director. Miriam made aliyah in 1980 from Spring Valley, NY, settling first in the Haifa area before moving to Jerusalem in 1993. A graphic designer by trade, Miriam now co-directs Shutaf Inclusion Programs in Jerusalem with Beth Steinberg and works with her husband in his non-profit development business as a grant writer. Miriam has written and developed Hebrew-language books for young readers and is a skilled EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner.