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December 3, 2015 10:50 am

New Military, National Service Options for Israelis With Autism

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Photo: From the Facebook page "Autism Israel."

Photo: From the Facebook page “Autism Israel.” – In light of recent data about the rise in autism among the Israeli population, Israel’s government has helped create three new programs to allow young Israelis with autism to integrate into military and national service settings along with their peers.

According to data released by the Israeli Welfare and Social Services Ministry, the number of people recognized as autistic by the government’s autism services department is rising by 20 percent annually. In 2014, some 77.5 percent of Israelis with autism were age 24 or younger.

The new programs will allow high-functioning people with autism to integrate into military or national service in a track that will suit their needs. One of the programs, called “Hiburim” (“Connections”), is organized in partnership with the Israeli Asperger Association and allows young people with autism to join a specialized track in the military that provides guidance throughout their service. Hiburim also provides skill and social training courses prior to enlistment to prepare the young people for the challenges they may face in the army. The program is in its pilot phrase, and six young Israelis have completed it so far.

The second program, “Ro’im Rahok” (“Seeing Far”), offers computer training courses in subjects including deciphering aerial photographs and software quality assurance. After completing the courses, the participants are drafted to the military as a group, serving in the same unit. Ro’im Rahok program is a collaborative effort of the Welfare and Social Services Ministry’s autism services department, Ono Academic College, and the National Insurance Institute. There are 50 participants enrolled in the program.

The third program is for young people with autism interested in completing national service as an alternative to military service. It helps participants integrate into a two-year service track in roles suited to their needs. The program is organized by the Shlomit, Aminadav, and Bat Ami non-profit organizations, which help coordinate national service placements. Last year, 65 people completed the program. This year, the number has gone up to 88.

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