Newark Board of Education Connects with Families for Autism Awareness

[NEWARK, New Jersey – April 19, 2019] Earlier this month, the Newark Board of Education and the Office of Special Education launched into a month-long series of programs, lectures and parent-focused events to share information and updates with parents of students with special needs. This year’s kickoff included a number of special speakers, in addition to parents and student performances.

Superintendent of Newark Schools Roger León said, “I want to commend the Office of Special Education (OSE) for incorporating guest speakers to discuss programs and services both as part of the Newark Board of Education’s curriculum and external programs designed to keep parents informed and engaged in the education of their child.”

This year, the following speakers presented: Anne Marie Sullivan of Spectrum Works, Megan Stuhrman of Rethink Ed, Sharnette Vidal of Nassan’s Place and Allison Hawkins of Rutgers University DDC.

Carolyn Granato, Executive Director of the OSE, said, “It was our goal to bring information to the many parents who attend the kickoff celebration, that was punctuated by the fascinating performances of many of our students attending Special Education.” She added, “Throughout the month, we hosted workshops and informational sessions so that our parents are aware of new services and opportunities for their child.”

According to Ms. Granato, recent numbers show an increase in the number of cases of children with autism in New Jersey. The most recent CDC findings (2018) show the overall US ASD prevalence to be 1-in-59 and indicate that NJ ASD prevalence is even higher — 1-in-34.   Boys are about 4 times more likely to have ASD than girls. In NJ, approximately 4 percent of all 8-year old boys have ASD. The cost of caring for a child in the US with autism are in the range $60,000 per year.  (In NJ, out of district autism annual cost of placement in a special school may exceed that amount, of course.)

For the remainder of this month, programs will be held on April 29 at 14th Avenue, Ivy Hill and Camden Street Schools. On April 30, programs will be held at Central High School and American History High School, and 14th Avenue and Ivy Hill Schools. Also, Spencer Miller School will host an Autism Walk on the 30th. Finally, on Friday, May 3, the following schools will host programs; Salome Urena, Quitman Street, Camden Street and First Avenue Schools.

In closing, Ms. Granato said, “National Autism Awareness Month represents an excellent opportunity to promote autism awareness and autism acceptance. It is our goal to incorporate these tenets into our teaching and into the culture and climate of every school and in every encounter. We believe we can move one step closer to a society where those with ASD’s are truly valued for their unique talents and gifts.”

For more information on remaining events, visit our District Calendar.