APRIL AS AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH
The Ocean County Board of Commissioners has proclaimed April as “Autism Awareness Month” in an effort to raise awareness about the prevalence of autism and highlight programs that are available for parents and caregivers of those who have autism spectrum disorders.
Studies have shown that the cases of autism in the United States have risen from one in 125 children in 2010 to one in 54 children in 2020, according to the Autism Society.
“I have seen the difference early intervention can make throughout my time as a longtime educator,” said Ocean County Commissioner 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 I encourage Ocean County residents to participate in activities to become better educated about autism spectrum disorders.”
To highlight the importance of autism awareness, the Ocean County Library is hosting its fourth Autism Resource Fair throughout the month of April. Many virtual programs such as music therapy, education programs, recommended readings and trivia games for teens will all be available on the Ocean County Library website www.theoceancountylibrary.org/autism.
This year, the event’s keynote address will feature Dr. Temple Grandin who will provide insight and inspiration for all interested in better understanding, caring for, or working with individuals on the autism spectrum. The free virtual event is scheduled to take place from 2 to 3 p.m. on April 17 and registration is required. Everyone who registers at www.theoceancountylibrary.org/events will receive a link by email.
In addition to the Autism Resource Fair, the Ocean County Library has continued its innovative approach to helping citizens with autism and other disabilities with the creation of a sensory space on the second floor of the Ocean County Library’s Main Branch on Washington Street, here. The space serves as an educational center for visitors who want to learn more about autism, and the various programs and services that are available.
While the opening of the sensory room has been delayed due to COVID-19, the library hopes to open it to residents later this year.
“I commend the Ocean County Library, under the leadership of Commissioner Vicari and also all the other organizations that provide these very important programs for our communities,” said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn. “By highlighting this developmental disability, we are providing important information that can help families and caregivers of children that have autism spectrum disorder.”
While there are different types of autism, such as Asperger Syndrome, which is usually milder than the “classic” Autistic Disorder, the Centers for Disease Control states that people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often have problems with social, emotional and communication skills. They might repeat certain behaviors and might not want change in their daily activities. Many people with ASD also have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things. Research has shown that early intervention services can greatly improve a child’s development, even though there is no cure for ASD.
“I encourage everyone to tap into the resources that are offered in Ocean County and check out the Ocean County Library’s website to learn more information on autism-related topics,” Vicari said.