April is Autism Awareness Month

Newark Public Schools Kicks Off Month to Raise Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion

[NEWARK, NJ – April 11, 2019] Newark Public Schools today officially launched Autism Awareness Month with a family oriented program that promotes awareness, inclusion and acceptance. Throughout the month of April, the Newark Public Schools Department of Special Education is hosting a number of programs to engage students, parents and caretakers further, to deepen the understanding of autism in the community and to encourage compassion and inclusion.

Today’s launch at the headquarters at 765 Broad Street was preceded by a professional development workshop for administrators, teachers and child study team members, and will be followed by sensory awareness sessions for educators, and finally movie night.”

“The number of young people with autism is astounding,” said Robert Gregory, Interim Superintendent of Newark Public Schools. Gregory said, “New Jersey represents one of the highest rates of autism. The numbers are extraordinary and call for a number of supports, services and curriculum that provide the right framework for teachers to teach students with autism and for students to learn in a school environment designed with their individual progress in mind.”

The Newark Public School District has more than 500 students with autism encompassing 12 schools, including 9 elementary schools and three high schools. Central High School was the first high school to teach students with autism, while American History High School (AHH) was the first Magnet School to teach students with autism. In fact, Interim Superintendent Gregory, as the Founding Principal of American History High School started the autism program at AHH. Students with autism are allowed to graduate high school up until the age of 21. As a result a number of Gregory’s students will graduate this year from America History High School.

“National Autism Awareness month represents an excellent opportunity to promote autism awareness and autism acceptance,” said Carolyn Granato, Assistant Superintendent of Special Education. “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.”

Last week, the Superintendent joined Michele Adubato, Executive Director of The North Ward Center at the official opening of The Center for Autism on Roseville Avenue in Newark. The center is a teaching facilitator and learning center and has a simulated apartment and kitchen to illustrate to students how to function in the home comfortably for adults with autism. This week, The Center hosted Senator Robert Menendez, who shared legislation he sponsored and new ideas in addressing autism, nationally and particularly here in New Jersey.