Autism is becoming more prevalent in our communities. The Centers for Disease Control report that as of 2016, autism is diagnosed in one of every 68 births in the United States. When a neighbor, a family friend or a new addition to your own family is diagnosed with autism, it’s crucial that we understand how to relate to them and give them our support. This April, I ask you to support people with autism by observing Autism Awareness Month.
National Autism Awareness Month is not only aimed at bringing awareness of the thousands of children who have been diagnosed with autism, but also adults who have lived with autism for many years. The main goal of this observance is to educate the public about what autism is and how it affects children and families, and to promote acceptance and compassion toward those with autism.
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism affects each person differently, which is why autism and its related disorders are referred to as part of a “spectrum.” Symptoms include problems with speech, difficulties with physical contact, obsessive behaviors, tics, poor motor skills and more.
There is no definitively known cause for autism, nor is there a cure, but an early diagnosis can help treat it through therapy and special education. Thanks to the many programs and services designed to help those with autism, today’s children are able to develop and learn at their own pace. Middlesex County offers several programs that aid children with autism and related disorders.
Middlesex County’s Special Child Health Services (SCHS) provides Case Management for special needs children from birth to their 22nd birthday. Case Management services include a review of a child’s needs and services, and the development of a comprehensive care plan for a child’s current and future needs. The program offers resources and referrals to community, state and federal programs. Special Education is one of our County’s most important educational initiatives. The Board supports the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey, headquartered here in the County, which provides fantastic services and educational programs for disabled students and students with autism. Many other County programs, such as Plays-in-the-Park and our wide array of arts and history programs, are inclusive for those with special needs. Please visit our website for more information on any of these services.
Middlesex County is dedicated to giving all our residents the resources they need, and most importantly, the respect and compassion they deserve. With that in mind, I ask you once again to please show your support during Autism Awareness Month.
May God bless you, and may God bless America.