Domino Effect
Domino EffectiStock

Click here to view the project site and donate a tablet to a special child!

“It’s two weeks now, and I’ve barely found a minute to eat or even go to the bathroom,” sighed Oren Feld* at the start of our video call yesterday evening. “People can’t begin to imagine what we’re going through. My wife and I are on edge, and I can’t fall asleep tonight just from worrying about what tomorrow’s going to bring.”

Oren, 44, is a father of 3, including one child on the spectrum, who lives in a small town in Israel’s north. He works in a publishing house, and his wife, Sigalit*, is a sales associate in a local shopping center. During the year, they run a happy, upbeat household and cope with the challenges of raising their special-needs son Ronny with a positive attitude, largely thanks to the special school that he attends throughout most of the hours of the day.

However since Ronny’s school closed, along with many special daycares and schools around the country, the entire family has been feeling the strain. Dealing with a child with special needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, is grueling, to say the least.

“Ronny’s a kid who demands constant attention. We can’t take our eyes off him for a minute. He needs us to be with him, to listen to him, to help him with every little thing. If we’re unavailable for even a moment, he goes to his siblings. He has serious communication difficulties and can’t properly express what he wants, so very quickly interactions deteriorate into all-out tantrums, fighting, or worse. Tonight, I went to the kitchen for two minutes to heat something in the microwave after not eating the whole day, and it took me a full hour to get the house back in order…

“With everything that’s going on, I find myself losing patience. Both Sigalit and I were laid off and are seeking unemployment, and we’re worried how we’re going to make it through this without collapsing.

“There’s no one to turn to. The special-ed staff and volunteers can’t come to the house, and pretty soon we won’t even be able to go outside to chill. We feel so powerless.”

The Felds once had a special tablet with educational games and programs that was suitable for Ronny and kept him busy for hours at a time on weekends and vacations, but it broke recently and they can’t afford to buy a new one.

The Felds are, obviously, not alone in their challenges. There are thousands of families in Israel now struggling to cope with special-needs children who are stuck at home all day long due to the national lockdown. These dads and moms are lacking the one essential need that all other Israelis do manage to find now: Self time.

Their desperate cries have reached Lend a Hand to a Special Child, a not-for-profit association that supports children with special needs and their families throughout the year. In a special effort to help hundreds of families and kids during these upside down corona days, the association launched an innovative project to offer the only help it can: It’s Tablet Truck is now traveling the country distributing high-quality tablets packed with learning and recreational games to special kids and providing their parents with the precious minutes or even hour or two a day that allow them to sit down and eat, shower, spend time with their other kids, and garner energy to face tomorrow.

“For them, it’s not a luxury. It’s like air to breathe!” declares Major-General Ariel Almog, Chairman of Special in Uniform, Lend A Hand’s flagship program which operates in conjunction with the Israel Defense Force incorporating youth on the spectrum and with a variety of special needs into Israel’s military.

The organization has set its goal of distributing tablets to 10,000 special kids in Israel. One tablet reached Lavi Shub, 4. His father Ariel gratefully expresses, “We’re not used to having all the kids home, but now that they’re here, and our special little Lavi is home, it takes a lot of time and energy. We received this tablet from Lend a Hand to a Special Child as a gift, and from the first second, he was hooked.”

“Lavi needs full-time attention, and now with the tablet, we have the opportunity to deal with everything else at home knowing that he’s calm and occupied,” adds his mom Reut. “We’re so, so grateful.”

Lend a Hand to a Special Child received hundreds of appeals from families around the country begging for help and most of all, for ideas to allay the boredom,” explains Major (res.) Tiran Attia, who directs Special in Uniform. “Our goal is to deliver 10,000 devices from Israel’s north to south.”

To fund this project, the association is launching a mass public fundraising campaign. “This is not another toy in the house, but a device that calms them down and helps their parents cope. We wish we could afford to do this on our own, but without people’s help, it’s way beyond our capacity. We hope that the public joins us in this vital project that’s saving families from collapse.”

Lend your hand and heart to a special child and bring a smile to his face and relief to the entire family!

Click here to view the project site and donate a tablet to a special child!