Special Needs Support For Educators

We believe all children deserve access to meaningful Jewish experiences regardless of their background, developmental profile, or learning differences. INCLUDE Special Needs partners with Bay Area Jewish organizations to create an inclusive community where families with kids with special needs are welcomed into Jewish life and learning. 

INCLUDE works by partnering with YOU to:
Provide professional development and tools for educators;
Consult with and coach institutional leaders;
Observe in the classroom and create personalized support for educators.

For new INCLUDE partners, all packages come with an INCLUDE Sensory Toolkit! Additional sets are available for $500 each.

School Site Visits and Observations (Supplemental and Day schools):

Dr. David Neufeld will come to your site and observe classrooms and educators, focusing on particular teachers or students at the request of the education director. He will provide feedback (which can take the form of oral communication, written report, or a combination) to the educators, clergy, and/or teachers about what he observed, and offer tools for reaching all types of learners. 

A site visit can also include attendance at formal or informal gatherings of staff for problem-solving sessions where specific concerns about specific students and/or situations can be addressed in depth.  

Inclusion Consultation

There are many ways to make an institution more inclusive and welcoming for families who have children with special needs. Dr. David Neufeld is available to assist institutions on their road to inclusivity. We can assist with:
> Creating inclusion committees (or task forces)
> Setting up a Special Needs chavurah
> Strategies and tools for creating inclusive environments in the classroom, at events, and at religious services (if applicable) 
> Increasing awareness and acceptance of special needs in the congregation at large
and more.

Early Childhood Education Consultation / Observation: 

A child’s years in preschool are often the time that educational and developmental concerns begin to emerge. Parents and teachers alike often struggle to identify red flags and make recommendations. Dr. David Neufeld is available to come to your school and observe specific students, classrooms, outdoor environments, or any other area of concern. Based on those observations, he will make recommendations to teachers, directors, or parents to improve educational and social outcomes and when necessary, suggest next steps for evaluation and/or services. (NOTE: Recommendations are for informational and educational purposes only. Dr. Neufeld cannot make diagnoses, nor are his recommendations legally binding for IFSP or IEP purposes, though they can inform both.) 

He is also available to conduct workshops, advise teachers about how to speak to parents about concerns, or simply sit with teachers to problem-solve classroom challenges which may be coming up.   

Inclusive Events

Many families with children with special needs would like to attend institutional events, but do not because the events are not created with their needs in mind. They worry that their kids will become upset, that other community members will judge them, or that the activities planned are not designed to reach different types of learners. As a result, they may feel alienated and no longer express serious interest in attending.  Working in conjunction with your staff, we will help you add accommodations to community and holiday events which will allow you to welcome all kinds of learners through your doors. Examples include: Sensory-friendly Purim Carvinal, Chocolate Seder,  Community Yom Ha'atzmaut Celebration.


Sensory Toolkits

INCLUDE’s Sensory Toolkit is a big box of sensory materials such as wiggle cushions, fidgets, adaptive scissors and crayons, chosen for their simplicity and effectiveness in helping children with sensory and motor challenges to regulate their bodies, minds, and attention. Materials without training, though, can do more harm than good. Along with the toolkit, your staff will receive training on how (and how not to) use it. 



Contact Dr. David Neufeld - DNeufeld@JewishLearningWorks.org for more information and/or to secure support.

Professional Development
Workshop Descriptions

Special Needs 101
An introduction to special needs for Jewish educators. Focusing on three of the most common diagnoses seen in Jewish education today (Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and either dyslexia or sensory processing disorder), this workshop gives educators skills, knowledge, and concrete strategies for including students with diverse learning needs which will be immediately applicable to their classrooms.

Special Needs 201
For Jewish educators, an in-depth look at one or two specific diagnoses selected per individual needs serves as a follow-up to Special Needs 101 (although attendance at a Special Needs 101 workshop is not a prerequisite for participation). This workshop will cover specific classroom strategies, community resources, and common scenarios that arise in the school environment.  Educators will leave Special Needs 201 with a deeper understanding of their chosen diagnoses and concrete methods for including students who have them.

What Are They Really Saying? Challenging Behaviors in the Classroom
What is a student really telling you when they are "acting out" in religious school [or preschool]? This workshop will help you gain the skills and knowledge to identify which of your students’ behaviors result from a learning or sensory need and which are acting out, and will teach concrete, usable skills and strategies for addressing those challenges. In addition, educators will learn how to use observational tools for self-reflection and incorporating best practices into the classroom.

Seeing Red: Developmental Red Flags in Preschool and What to Do About Them

A child's years in preschool are often the time that educational and developmental concerns begin to emerge. Parents and teachers alike often struggle to identify red flags and make recommendations. In this workshop you will learn how to tell the difference between true red flags and challenges that are part and parcel of normal development. You will learn concrete steps to take and strategies to implement when you think something deeper may be going on, and will have the opportunity to think through and discuss several real-life scenarios.

Supporting Families with Children With Special Needs
Educators and community members will learn how to provide support for families who have children with special needs. We will discuss parents’ emotional state at the time of diagnosis and throughout their child’s life, identify ways of offering support, review common myths, misconceptions, and assumptions held about and by families who have children with special needs, and cover the complicated topic of language – using person-first language, helpful/unhelpful things to say around families of children with special needs, and more. This presentation includes video clips and role play.

Creating A Culture of Inclusion
Available for:

A. Professionals, teachers, and board members of Jewish institutions; and/or
B. Students (6th grade+)
Delve into the many ways of creating a culture of inclusion at your institution, raising awareness and making your organization a more welcoming place. The presentation includes some background information about common disabilities as well as practical discussion of what adults and kids can do to raise awareness and help families feel truly welcomed.

It's Too Loud!: Recognizing and Responding to Sensory Challenges in the Classroom

In recent years, we have seen an increase in students coming into our classrooms with sensory needs but often lack the tools to address them. In this workshop, you will learn about a wide variety of sensory challenges (e.g., over- or under-sensitivity to visual, auditory, or tactile stimulation; over- or under-regulation of the body’s sensory system) and receive tachlis tips on how to respond to them using simple, easily acquired tools. This unique, hands-on workshop will be conducted with select items from our INCLUDE Sensory Toolkit.