Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – Studies show that New Jersey has the highest rate of autism in the entire country with one out of every 34 children born today being diagnosed with autism, according to Parents of Autistic Children of New Jersey (POAC).
To raise awareness and highlight the importance of autism education, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders recently recognized the month of April as Autism Awareness Month and are encouraging residents to visit third annual an Autism Resources Fair at the main branch of the Ocean County Library, here, Sunday, April 7.
"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."
Vicari along with Freeholder Director Virginia E. Haines recently presented a Board proclamation to Gary Weitzen, Executive Director of POAC, 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," Haines said.
The Ocean County Library with the support of the Ocean County Library Foundation is sponsoring the Third Annual Ocean County Library Autism Resources Fair at the main branch of the Ocean County Library, Washington Street, here.
Other sponsors and partners include Christine Matus, Esq., of The Matus Law Group and Ocean County College.
The free event is scheduled to take place from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 7. Registration is not required.
The fair will provide a forum in which families affected by autism can access the resources of state, county and local agencies. Participating groups include medical professionals, therapists, advocates, schools and other agencies.
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, and a Keynote Address by Christine Matus, Esq. on Special Needs Planning are scheduled to take place.
The main entertainer will be Kevin Spencer, a teaching artist, researcher, speaker and award-winning film producer, who is widely considered the leading authority on the educational and therapeutic benefits of magic tricks in education and rehabilitation. His magic show "Hocus Pocus," is a sensory-friendly, relaxed family performance.
Other features of the fair include entertainment, therapy dogs, sensory story time, and Drop-In arts and crafts. Light refreshments will also be available.
"I want to comment 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.
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 stop by the Autism Resources Fair to learn more information on autism related topics," Vicari said.