Despite Chaim having a mild form of Asperger’s syndrome, he did well enough in early years. However, towards the end of year one, he began to be noticed by peers for being different. Tensions with peers worsened when his father left home and at the start of year two, Chaim refused to go to school.
His mother spoke of him being left in a corner of the classroom for hours on end as no one knew what to do with him. He never played with classmates and even in the park and synagogue, children excluded him, when not taunting or hurting him.
At eight years old he stopped attending school and besides siblings, had no peer interaction or formal learning for over two years. Tutors came and went and the mother did her best but the feeling of loneliness and sense of difference plagued Chaim. As a single parent who now had to be home, Chaim’s mother also felt abandoned. She was particularly hurting for her son and told us:
“He feels like an animal, not a human, he’s just ignored and has no one to speak to or play with.”
Almost eleven years old, Chaim hesitantly began coming to our Session Service with a tutor. At first it was tough but after a peer buddy system was implemented, he began to flourish. “It’s like a fish to water!” His mother wrote to us. It turns out that Chaim is quite bright and is rapidly making up for lost time, thanks to the supreme effort of his mother and staff at arranging tutors and classroom inclusion plans.
Chaim walks confidently in the street now and often attends more inclusive synagogues. Even the old schoolmates and neighbours have noticed the change and have begun to civilly relate to him. The aim is that after doing GCSE’s, he re-enters his own Chassidic group and attends their mainstream yeshivah.
Thank you Jewish Child’s Day for making this work possible.