BELMAR NJ — After a coastal storm forced its cancellation last year, anticipation is running high for the 15th Annual Autism Beach Bash on Sunday, September 8.

Some 7,000 people are expected to gather on Belmar’s Seventh Avenue for the daylong event, sponsored by Autism Family Services of New Jersey and spearheaded by Belmar-based Colton and Friends — a foundation for autism founded by borough residents Fran and Jeannie Hines.

Billed as the largest gathering of its kind in New Jersey for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families, the free event draws participants from at least 10 others states who “gather in support of one another, to challenge society’s boundaries and most importantly to enjoy a day on the beach free of judgment,” according to the event’s website.

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The event will feature a wide array of activities, including arts and crafts, carnival games, a water slide, miniature golf, treasure hunt, face-painting, dance, yoga, massage and live entertainment.

A highlight of the day will be a surf camp with Surfer's Healing, a nonprofit group specializing in working with children with special needs. Throughout the day, children will get the opportunity to ride in a wave with a professional surfer from the California-based organization.

Lunch will be provided free to all registered families by various food sponsors. There also will be informational tables with representatives from local and statewide services and resources for individuals with autism and related disorders.

The Beach Bash will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. rain or shine. To register, visit www.autismbeachbash.org or call Autism Family Services of New Jersey, an affiliate of The Family Resource Center, at 1-877-237-4477.

Follow the event on Facebook by clicking here.

NEW JERSEY AND AUTISM: BY THE NUMBERS

New Jersey remains the nation’s leader in having the highest percentage of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), According to a the latest study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The percentage of children with ASD increased in the state from about 2.5 percent in 2012 to about 3 percent in 2014. That translates into one of every 34 children in New Jersey has some form of autism, with boys 4 percent of boys identified with ASD, compared to 1 percent of girls.

Of the children identified with ASD, 80 percent had developmental concerns by age 3, although only 40 percent received a comprehensive development evaluation by that age, the study found.

“Rising numbers of children with ASD need services and support, now, and will require significant resources as they grow into adolescence and adulthood,” the study concluded.

 

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