Mayor’s Message: National Autism Awareness Month

First declared by the Autism Society in April 1970, the purpose is to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all

New information is continually becoming available regarding the status/spread of the coronavirus and what actions we should be taking. Our best defense to stop the spread of the virus is social distancing, stay at least 6 feet away from others not in your household. Hand washing needs to be practiced by all of us. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet about the COVID 19 pandemic, below are Federal, State and Municipal phone numbers and websites that you can use to find out the most current information.

Town Hall (856) 429-7757

New Jersey Department of Health Hotline (800) 222-1222

Voorhees Township Emergency Medical Service (856) 783-6630

Voorhees Township Fire Department (856) 783-6630

Voorhees Township Police (856) 428-5400

Camden County Office of Emergency Management (856) 309-2106

Voorhees Township: www.voorheesnj.com

New Jersey:   www.covid19.nj.gov

Camden County: www.camdencounty.com/service/covid-19-updates-and-preperations/about-covid-19-what-to-do/

NJ Department of Health: www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/ncov.shtml

Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov/COVID19

We will engage in this fight together. Stay home. Wash your hands. Continue social distancing. Please continue to check on your neighbors. We’re six feet apart, but closer than ever.

Not to be forgotten amid the Coronavirus outbreak is that April is National Autism Awareness Month. First declared by the Autism Society in April 1970, the purpose is to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all.

Autism is a complex mental developmental condition, characterized by difficulties in the way a person communicates and interacts with people. Autism can be present from birth or form during early childhood and has no single known cause.

There are many subtypes of autism, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person on the spectrum has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways in which they learn, think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some on the autism spectrum may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently. According to the latest Centers for Disease Control data, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today.

While no two people on the spectrum have the same set of symptoms, there are common characteristics that include impaired social skills or problems interacting with others. Some children on the spectrum do not have adequate playing or speaking skills. One end of the spectrum may exhibit clumsy behavior, being out of sync with those around them and use inappropriate or offensive language. At the other end of the spectrum a person may not be interested in others.

Those on the spectrum may find it harder to show empathy to others, although they can be taught to acknowledge other’s feelings. In some cases, they do not like physical contact such as hugs, tickling or physical play. Those on the spectrum often display repetitive behavior in performing the same action many times over. Any change to their behavior or routine can be unsettling. Other characteristics of autism include an unpredictable learning rate, obsessions and physical tics.

National Autism Awareness Month strives to bring people across the globe together to improve understanding and encourages friends and collaborators to become partners in movement toward acceptance and appreciation. A better informed public will be more empathetic and supportive toward those on the spectrum.

SPEAK (Special Needs Parents Educators and Kids) of Voorhees is the parent-faculty association for families with children with special needs in the Voorhees Township Public School District. Founded in March 2009, SPEAK addresses issues impacting special needs children living in our community by providing support, encouragement and important information and education for families and others who may be involved in the care of a special needs child. For more information about SPEAK of Voorhees, including teaching resources, fundraisers and sponsorship information, visit www.speaksj.org.

For more information on National Autism Awareness Month, visit www.autism-society.org.