Stories of Recovery

Isaac’s Story

Creating a Calm & Supportive Environment for the Developmentally Disabled Community to Thrive.

At 20 years old, Isaac* had finally established a routine. Diagnosed in early childhood with developmental and intellectual disabilities, his family had worked hard to find adequate care to meet his needs – then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Isaac’s care was abruptly terminated, and his family needed a solution that would give him stability and consistency to address this new stressor in his life, and to continue making progress. Our team at Mishkon, The Jewish Board’s residential program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), was able to partner with Isaac and his family to support him in restructuring and to get him back on the path to living a more meaningful, independent life. This is his story.

Meet Isaac

An Orthodox Jewish-American from a large rabbinic family, both Isaac and his brother had been diagnosed in early childhood with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, anxiety, and more. Isaac, who communicates using one to two-word verbal responses and has limited writing skills, became eligible for services with New York State’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and resided with his mom, dad, and brother before moving to a school in Cleveland that supported his needs.

A Life Disrupted by Covid

In 2021, Isaac’s school shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and he had to move back home with his family. For individuals with autism, any disruption or change in routine or environment can be a very big deal, and moving from back to New York after being in Cleveland for six years caused a drastic change in Isaac’s routine and structure: along with losing access to the resources and care he required, he lost friends, his favorite school staff, and his job. These collective disruptions made Isaac experience anxiety, causing him to hit himself and others. After his mother received a referral to The Jewish Board, she reached out to our team at Mishkon and they got to work.

Providing residents with daily living assistance, activities, comprehensive nursing care, and therapeutic interventions, all through an Orthodox Jewish lens, our staff at Mishkon sees beyond someone’s disability to the person inside. Leading with dignity and respect, they help clients with life’s challenges by giving them the tools and resources they need to lead independent lives.

Building a Supportive Relationship with Isaac

Isaac arrived at Mishkon in crisis: the disruptions in his routine resulted in developing harmful behaviors that jeopardized his safety. But Tenear, one of our understanding, supportive, well-trained, and compassionate clinical team members, worked diligently to help him adjust to his new home. With patience and time, Tenear learned what Issac needed to feel regulated, where his boundaries were, and how to support him in his recovery and care. She also responded to Isaac’s sensitivity to bright lights and sound by providing him with noise-canceling headphones and engaging him in a way that lets him have full conversations while wearing them.

Isaac’s Incredible Progress

Tenear continued to learn about Isaac as a person and worked towards building a trusting relationship with him to the point where he would socialize more and more, communicate better, and was growing more independent each day. When he would previously poke others in the shoulder or grab their arms to get their attention, he now approaches his team at Mishkon and speaks directly to them about his needs without invading anyone’s personal space, and when he makes mistakes, he acknowledges his actions and apologizes.

Moving Forward with Isaac and His Goals

During his time at Mishkon, Isaac has made incredible improvements with his personal hygiene skills and only needs one team member to help him manage his behavior and support him as he completes daily activity skills. While Isaac requires assistance when going out in the community, his family has noticed how he talks to his team when he is anxious or uncomfortable so they can help him address his feelings and regain emotional control. Isaac’s family is incredibly proud of him and how he’s settled at Mishkon – he no longer requires continuous 1-on-1 staff support! – and we’re proud of the work done by our Mishkon team to support Issac and look forward to them continuing to provide a warm and connected atmosphere as Isaac progresses and becomes more independent.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients.

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