TOMS RIVER – One out of every 34 children born in New Jersey are diagnosed with autism, according to a study by Parents of Autistic Children of New Jersey (POAC). This statistic marks New Jersey as the state with the highest rate of autism in the entire country.
In an effort to raise awareness, Ocean County officials recognized the month of April as Autism Awareness Month. Ocean County will host its 3rd annual Autism Resources Fair on April 7, 12-4 p.m., at the Ocean County Library and officials want you to join in the experience. The fair is free to attend, no registration is required.
“As a lifelong educator, I have seen the difference early intervention can make and want to encourage Ocean County residents to participate in activities to become better educated about autism spectrum disorders,” said Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Library. “It is important to learn how to relate to children and adults who have autism, and the Autism Resources Fair is a great opportunity to find out ways to do so.”
Gary Weitzen, Executive Director of POAC, was awarded with a proclamation from the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders recently, in an effort to raise awareness about autism and help promote the services and programs available.
“As we join with POAC, the library and our communities we want recognize the efforts made to help children and adults with Autism,” Freeholder Director Virginia Haines said.
The 3rd annual Autism Resource Fair will provide information and various resources to families affected by autism. There will be medical professionals, therapists, advocates, schools and other agencies available onsite to help.
The fair will also feature:
- Workshops on Service Dog Law by Canine Companions for Independence
- ABA Therapy with Cyndee Policastro-Smith
- Employment Opportunities for Adults with Autism by Specialisterne, USA
- Ocean County Sheriff’s Child ID Program and Drone Demonstration
- Balloon art by Cheryl Schwendel
- An appearance by the Vader’s 501st Legion Star Wars Costumed Characters
- Keynote Address by Christine Matus, Esq. on Special Needs Planning
Kevin Spencer – a teaching artist, researcher, speaker and award-winning film producer – will provide entertainment in the form of his magic show “Hocus Pocus,” a sensory-friendly, relaxed family performance.
Light refreshments will also be available.
“I want to commend the library and its partners for hosting this resource fair so families and caregivers of children that have autism spectrum disorder can access information and talk to experts all under one roof,” Vicari said.
Although there is no cure for autism, research has shown that early intervention services can greatly improve a child’s development.
“I encourage everyone to tap into the resources that are offered in Ocean County and stop by the Autism Resources Fair to learn more information on autism related topics,” Vicari said.