April is Autism Awareness Month. The lifelong developmental disorder, once rare, now affects 1 in 49 New Jersey children and their families. And as the rate of autism has grown, the effects of autism have rippled out, reaching into schools, churches and synagogues, supermarkets, movie theaters, restaurants, fire departments and first aid squads, hair salons, public busses, and the office or job site.
For those with autism, the neighborhoods in which they live are a vital source of support and opportunity. Many special needs schools use the community as a classroom – a place to teach the ‘real life’ skills that these young people so desperately need. But this kind of social learning cannot happen without support from others.
So this year, during Autism Awareness Month, I invite my fellow autism advocates to join me in making ‘gratitude’ part of awareness. Thank the vendors, business owners – large and small – and other community leaders who are working to learn more about autism and finding ways, large and small, to help.
With a compassionate community of support, these children and adults will have the chance to learn from, and contribute to their own communities.
Co-founder and Executive Director
The Phoenix Center