iPad Helps Boy with Autism Celebrate his Coming of Age


Like most parents of children with special needs, Suzanne and Michael Emmi have always wanted their son Matthew to have as many typical “growing up” experiences as possible. For Suzanne, who is Jewish, finding a way to help then 12-year-old Matthew experience a Bar Mitzvah, the traditional Jewish coming-of-age ceremony, was particularly important. But how could a child with severe autism – one who could not read, write, or speak in complete sentences – read from the Torah or recite a blessing?

In Matthew’s case, it took a “village” to make this dream a reality. Because he had a loving family, a supportive religious community, a team of dedicated educators, and access to the latest technology, Matthew was indeed able to celebrate his bar mitzvah. There were many tears of joy shed that day – Matthew’s day. Says Suzanne, “There are very few times in life that something not only meets, but exceeds your expectations, and that was one of those times for me.”

Soon, many others would hear about the event. “I got calls from people in Seattle, Atlanta, Texas – people we had never met who now have a brand new hope for something they did not think they could ever do for their child,” says Suzanne. “I think our Rabbi really said it best about a month after the Bar Mitzvah when he said, ‘Matthew has done more and touched more people in his 13 years than many people get to do in a lifetime.’"


Read more about Matthew and his family on our 60th anniversary website!

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