21 days have passed since Operation Protective Edge began.
These are difficult days for us all, especially as air-raid sirens ring throughout most of Israel and as our soldiers fight inside Gaza to protect our well-being. Our thoughts and our hearts naturally are directed to our soldiers and loved ones and also to the autistic children and their families who are struggling with this stressful situation.
We wish to update you on the activities and difficulties we are now facing and to share with you ways in which you can help us during these rough days:
In the Homes for Life and Occupational Centers
We enlarged the number of staff members per each shift.
· Due to the distress in Be'er Sheva, we requested the authorization of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services to move the tenants from the Village for autistic people in Be'er Sheva to ALUT's vacation resort- "Aluteva"- in Carmiel (in the North).
· In several Homes and Occupational Centers some of the staff members were called to serve in reserve duty or in some cases foreigner volunteers have returned home or workers were unable to get to work, all because of the security situation. We are also dealing with a complex moral dilemma, since some of the autistic people refuse to go into the shelter during the sirens, or do not enter fast enough before the falling of the missiles. This while many staff members stay to protect these people while risking their own lives.
· ALUT initiated contact with each and every family in ALUT's database that lives within 40 Kilometers from Gaza . Phone calls to these families were made by ALUT employees at ALUT's Family Centers with assistance from additional employees at ALUT's Headquarters
· We prepared a list of places in the North of the country that are willing to host families with autistic children from the South either for free or at a very low cost. The list was offered to the families during the phone calls made to them.
· ALUT's Family Centers throughout the country are giving support and advice to parents who call up with dilemmas on how to handle their children's anxiety.
· An e-mail message was sent to all parents of autistic children, and was also posted on ALUT's Website, with recommendations on conduct during emergency situations, the therapeutic effect of social stories with an example of such a social story applicable to the current situation.
In the Alutafs and Kindergartens
According to the instructions of the military Home Front Command we had to close the operation of our Alutaf (Rehabilitation Day Care Center for infants with autism) in Be'er Sheva. The staff members are in touch with the children's families and carry out home visits.
· Other Alutafs and kindergartens, further up north, are operating as long as they have shelters. Two Alutafs that did not have a shelter- in Modi'in and Assaf Ha'Rofeh Hospital- were relocated to buildings that do have shelters.
· When Sirens go off, the staff keeps in touch with the parents and an updating text message is sent to all parents' phones once the children exit the shelter.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
ALUT is now organizing respite days for families with autistic children who live in the South. ALUT provides the staff and busses that go up north to resort parks.
The cost of each respite day is approximately $2,500 (including the bus ride, the accompanying staff, the entrance to the park and food).
We need your help in financing these respite days. Even one day of rest and fun for these struggling families is a huge help and helps deliver them strength to cope with the difficult days ahead.
support is needed to provide extra staff, extra activities etc.
Any financial support you can give will be very helpful and fully appreciated.