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Our focus is on children and young people up to age 19 with a range of special educational needs and support  within a traditional Orthodox Jewish environment.    
 
Most have social and communication difficulties, often associated with autism spectrum disorders including Asperger’s Syndrome.  Some have associated needs such as specific learning difficulties - dyslexia and dyspraxia, ADHD, and emotional difficulties. 
 
Such children struggle immensely to have normal social interaction with those around them.  They are unable them to learn naturally how to interact appropriately with others, can be easily confused by normal environments with a variety of distractions, and in many cases struggle to develop normal speech.  This leaves them slow to develop and highly frustrated, which can cause behavioural problems. 
 
The problems and behaviour of these unfortunate children also have a massive impact on their families who struggle to cope without major guidance and support, and siblings can easily suffer as attention focuses on the disturbed children.  The nature and impact of these disorders is complex, and varies considerably among individual children, so it can take a long time to understand what’s wrong and get a definitive official diagnosis. 
 
These children can’t help themselves and need highly specialised and personalised education and care.  The majority can probably cope in mainstream schools, as long as they’re given sufficient appropriate extra help – which they don’t always get.  But a minority need personalised help in a separate specialised school unit employing dedicated professionals who understand how to help these children develop.  With, and only with, this expert help these children can learn the necessary social and communication skills, acquire a decent education with some qualifications, and develop into valued adults capable of independent living.
 
While there are non-Jewish Special Needs schools which these children can sometimes attend, it’s hard for these institutions to provide them with a full Jewish Learning experience with Jewish Studies, Kosher food and the Jewish culture which their parents wish them to have.
 
We have played a leading role in setting up a cross community working group which aims to set up a new specialised Special Educational Needs Unit for Jewish children in Manchester by September 2013.  In the meanwhile we are supporting other valuable services for these children.

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