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Passover on the Spectrum

This is a post by Scott Leibowitz, Autism Speaks Director of Marketing and Corporate Relationship Management

How can a story that’s over 3,000 years old be relevant to today’s autism community? When Jewish families around the world sit down to their traditional Passover seder (meal), that is a question that deserves our attention.

One of my favorite Passover holiday traditions is reading a passage which describes how adults are commanded to re-tell the story of the Jewish people’s exodus from slavery in Egypt. More than that, it must be explained to all children- no matter their ability to understand it. For families with children on the autism spectrum, this is a particularly poignant moment. We know that some children (and adults) may not have the capability to understand any of the story while others might be able to recite it from memory.

So how can it be that the story is relevant to all of them, and to us? Simply put, how can a tale of freedom and faith, not be? For all the families in the autism community, that is core to everything we do.

We rely on the faith that tomorrow will be a little better than today. We hope that no matter the circumstance that our children and adults on the spectrum will enjoy the freedom to pursue whatever path is best for them to lead fulfilling lives. Yet, as in the Passover story, we know in our daily lives this is not accomplished without significant trials and tribulations.

Every family tends to have their own Passover holiday traditions, but core to all of them is the inclusive nature of the holiday. It is about celebrating freedom from slavery and persecution. It is about inviting those less fortunate than us to join us in our meal. It is about celebrating the community that brings us together to share in the common rituals that unites as a Jewish people. For families in the autism community, what could be more meaningful than that?

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.