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Autism Speaks

November 9, 2017

..sometimes, the greatest dreams are the ones your heart fears.” – RM Drake[1]

This week’s Parsha Chaya Sara in nutshell from

Sarah dies at age 127 and is buried in the Machpelah Cave in Hebron, which Abraham purchases from Ephron the Hittite for four hundred shekels of silver.

Abraham’s servant Eliezer is sent, laden with gifts, to Charan, to find a wife for Isaac. At the village well, Eliezer asks G‑d for a sign: when the maidens come to the well, he will ask for some water to drink; the woman who will offer to give his camels to drink as well shall be the one destined for his master’s son. 

Rebecca, the daughter of Abraham’s nephew Bethuel, appears at the well and passes the “test.” Eliezer is invited to their home, where he repeats the story of the day’s events. Rebecca returns with Eliezer to the land of Canaan, where they encounter Isaac praying in the field. Isaac marries Rebecca, loves her, and is comforted over the loss of his mother.

Abraham takes a new wife, Keturah (Hagar), and fathers six additional sons, but Isaac is designated as his only heir. Abraham dies at age 175 and is buried beside Sarah by his two eldest sons, Isaac and Ishmael.


Out on my bike ride on Sunday, I was reflecting on a Drosha that I had read on Parsha Vayeira and had shared with my family at the Shabbat table. A few things had brought me to reflecting on this including a presentation on Asperger’s in the workplace at the Institute of Chartered Accountants, advertising at David Jones for a new hand cream promoting the charity Autism Speaks and TV programs such as Atypical[2] (on Netflix) and The Good Doctor[3].

In last week’s Parsha, the Torah describes how Avraham rushed to prepare a meal for his guests, the angels, and tells us that they ate while he “stood over them under the tree” (18:8). In a Drosha from Rav David Silverberg[4] he says that the angels came to Avraham to deliver the message that Sara would soon conceive, and this necessitated their descent into this world and acting as human beings, partaking of a lavish meal.  This resulted in a “vacancy” in the heavens, as their heavenly roles went unfulfilled.  Therefore, Avraham “stood over them” – he rose to the heavens to serve the angels’ roles.  As they had come to earth and acted like human beings, Avraham rose to the heavens to fill the roles which the angels would normally have filled.

Rav David Silverberg says that just as these angels were sent away from the heavens, far from their normal surroundings, to engage in our world, similarly, we human beings are capable of extending beyond our familiar “worlds” and reaching higher.  Too often, we assume that we are who we are, that we are restricted to our current lifestyle, routine, habits, character and religious standards. Amazing Race presenter, Phil Keoghan in a Podcast[5] called this a “Mental Leap”. “Because you have taken a mental leap with something that is quite primal and quite physical, you’re more likely to take another challenge.” – Phil Keoghan

Write about the emotions you fear the most.” ― Laurie Halse Anderson

After hearing an author tell me he had failed English, I told Michaela that once she is finished her VCE exam, it is up to her to reach higher or do things that she never thought that she was capable of. She is going to have to morph from this life as a school student – Good Luck!

It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a child with autism to raise the consciousness of the village,” Coach Elaine Hall

BUT, what I was thinking on my bike was how Sam had in effect swapped roles this week at school. Throughout his learning and schooling, he has had to be helped and supported by his teachers, aides and school friends. This process has not been easy for us, and as we have learnt it has not been easy for him. There are so many things that he battles with – Sam loves to socialise, but battles socialising. Over the last few weeks as he has learnt more about his condition, Sam, the school and us have been working towards Sam talking to the boys in his year level about his ‘trials’. Last week Sam swapped roles and became the teacher. Sam made a PowerPoint presentation about his condition and what he battles with. I wish I had a YouTube video of his speech that was apparently brilliant, but I will share the actual PowerPoint[6].

On the side, walking in David Jones on Friday I noticed this display for a hand cream with the wrapping designed by actor Matthew McConaughey in aid of an organisation, Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.

So often when thinking of a blog, I come across so much material on the topic including a brilliant 20-minute short film[7] titled “Jeremy the Dud”, the new short film that flips disability on its head. While ‘Jeremy the Dud’ takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to subverting the typical stigma and judgement that people with disability may face on a daily basis, at its core has a beautifully heartfelt message.

Lewis - Untitled-design-54During the month of November, men are asked to make a more conscious effort to improve ‘their’ health. This is diet, physical and mental health. Men need to ‘swap’ their roles or as Lewis Howes[8] says, “Unmask their masculinity”. I listened to a brilliant Podcast[9] with Lewis on unmasking masculinity and another brilliant Podcast[10] with Movember founder Justin Coghlan (“JC”) on The Men’s Health Crisis, Mustaches & How To Save A Life.

The story of the angels thus challenges us to set our sights higher, to carefully examine what we perceive as our limits, and see which of these boundaries we are capable of breaking in the pursuit of greater achievements.” – Rav David Silverberg

To end a quote[11] from golfer Ernie Els’s wife Lizl “Ernie’s relationship with (his Autistic son) Ben has gone from, ‘What am I going to do with this kid?’ to ‘When can I spend time with him again?‘” she said. “It’s been a beautiful evolution.”

Watching our kids grow and change has been an evolution!

NOTE: Rav David Silverberg brings another beautiful idea to this week’s Parsha, which is worth reading[12] “…Just as Rivka’s family was shown that Rivka was, in fact, chosen for the distinction and challenge of joining Avraham’s family, we, too, may at times be shown that we are capable of more than we had previously thought.”











[11] Read more:



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