Health & Wellness

Chatham Recognizes Austism Awareness Month

Bradley Smith accepts proclamation for Austism Awareness Month from Chatham Township Mayor Kevin Sullivan

CHATHAM, NJ - Both the Borough of Chatham Council and Chatham Township Committee have proclaimed "Austism Awareness Month" in order to bring attention to the growing problem.

"The prevalence of autism, especially in New Jersey has soared in recent years," said Chatham resident Bradley Smith, a member of NJ Board of Directors for Austism Speaks.

"Nationally one in 88 children are being diagnosed with the disorder (one in 54 boys and one in 252 girls).  Unfortunately, in New Jersey it is much higher at  one in 49 (one in 29 boys and one in 172 girls)."

- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or autism is a developmental disorder that affects a person's social communication and interaction. Individuals with ASD also have restricted and repetitive behavior, interests and activities.

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These characteristics fall across a "spectrum" ranging from mild to severe. While one person may have symptoms that impair his or her ability to perform daily activities, another may have only mildly noticeable differences and have few, if any, functional impairments.

- According to the Early Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Guidelines for Healthcare Professionals in New Jersey from the Department of Health, Parents or caregivers should be alert to the following red signs:

* No babbling by 12 months
* No pointing or gesturing by 12 months
* No single words by 16 months
* No 2-word phrases by 24 months
* Loss of previously acquired skills, especially language

- In addition to the concerns noted above, presence or absence of the following behaviors may be reason for a referral:

* Lack of joint attention (child does not draw other's attention to objects in the environment) * Child does not respond to his/her name * Lack of pretend, imitative and functional play appropriate to developmental age *

Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental age * Child does not imitate others' behaviors

* Child is rigid in routines or has very difficult transitions * Child engages in repetitive or stereotypical behavior * Child has unusual responses to sensory stimuli

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