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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Autism in Israel

In The Politics of Autism, I note that we need more study of how autistic people fare in other countries.

David Shamah and Ben Sales report at The Times of Israel (h/t MM):
Israel’s first college aimed specifically at students with autism, Asperger’s syndrome and complex learning disabilities is set to open in March 2016.

According to the NRG news website, the BE Academic College will be a collaboration between Beit Ekstein, an organization that provides services to people with a variety of learning and developmental disabilities, and the Open University, a distance-learning institution with branches throughout the country.

“Out of close familiarity with the world of graduates with learning disabilities comes the establishment of the BE Academic College, whose goal it will be to make academic learning possible by building a supportive and adapted curriculum,” Beit Ekstein said in a statement announcing the institution’s upcoming opening.

The new institution will be housed at Beit Ekstein’s campus in Givatayim, a suburb of Tel Aviv. It will offer three interdisciplinary tracks meant to prepare its target population for the workforce. The programs announced by the academy are psychology and education, economics and computer science, and psychology and communications.
Shira Rubin writes at The Atlantic:
E. (he requested his full name be withheld to comply with army protocol) is a corporal in the Israel Defense Force’s “Visual Intelligence Division,” otherwise known as Unit 9900, which counts dozens of Israelis on the autism spectrum among its members.
The relationship is a mutually beneficial one. For these young people, the unit is an opportunity to participate in a part of Israeli life that might otherwise be closed to them. And for the military, it’s an opportunity to harness the unique skill sets that often come with autism: extraordinary capacities for visual thinking and attention to detail, both of which lend themselves well to the highly specialized task of aerial analysis.
Rubin discusses Ro’im Rachok (Hebrew for “seeing into the future”), a program that helps students with autism prepare forthe IDF.
E., who connects strongly with the army’s structured atmosphere, says he plans to apply to stay on permanently. But regardless of how long they stay, many of Ro’im Rachok’s graduates depend on the connections and skills they build in the army to help them achieve independence once they leave it. Especially in the intelligence fields, military service is often a pathway to jobs in Israel’s booming tech sector. This is particularly advantageous for young people with autism as they approach the so-called “bloody 21,” the age at which almost all government-funded programs for autistic Israelis, like subsidized transportation and assisted-living services, are cut off.
"Bloody 21" in Israel corresponds to "the cliff" in the United States."