Unfortunately, this is not always the case for children who have special needs. For parents, learning that their child has been diagnosed with autism can be devastating. Unfortunately, many basic resources they might need for their child is even harder to find. A parent I spoke with once said that “Locating a dentist that understands how to work with my child with autism was one of the hardest things I had to find.” Love My Provider was created as a response to this problem, and aims to helps special needs families locate the best local providers that can work with their child. There are a number of Jewish principles that helped guide this venture: COMMUNAL RESPONSIBILITY - The Jewish principle that “All Israel is responsible for one another” (Shavuot 39a) means that it is our responsibility to stand up for each other, especially for those who are vulnerable and cannot speak up for themselves. Families who have special needs children are inundated with resources that are not always accurate. Our community has a responsibility to ensure that families who are vulnerable and in a state of change and adjustment are not led astray by snake oil salesmen. Love My Provider.com ensures that families have access to valid information when they need it.
PEACE IN THE HOME - Our community centers, synagogues, youth groups, and camps are often our second homes. Everyone needs to feel comfortable, safe, welcome, and respected at home. Love My Provider aims to find doctors, dentists, hair-dressers, summer camps, and synagogues that don’t ostracize those who seem different allows all community members to maintain their dignity, no matter their disability.
GUARDING ONE’S USE OF LANGUAGE - The Talmud warns us that we must take care in how we use language. The idea of gossip is cautioned against and even if what someone is saying is true, we should proceed with caution. This was a struggle when creating a yelp-like website. The guidelines of “shmirat halashon” remind us that what we say about others affects them in ways we can never predict. Words can hurt or heal depending on how we use them. As such, Love My Provider was created with a review mechanism that avoids harsh criticism or diatribe, and focuses on evaluating special needs services based on categories we consider quality-indicators: being helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable.
SOLIDARITY - “Don’t separate yourself from the community” (Pirke Avot 2:5). When individuals feel different from others in your community, it is important not to be isolated. The Talmud teaches us to find allies and supporters who you can talk to. Love My Provider aims to bridge the gap of isolation for families who have special needs children. If you know someone who is feeling isolated in the world of special needs, reach out; be an ally and a friend. Have them visit our site (www.lovemyprovider.com) or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.