Health & Wellness

Press Releases

Community Access Unlimited Celebrates Members with Autism for Autism Awareness Month

e74cc3fc8e38c3099c49_Daniel.jpg
Daniel Sheppard is an 8-year-old with regressive autism.
8b27bf778881ab5d8460_Aidan.jpg
Aiden Chetram is a 10-year-old diagnosed with ASD and ADHD.
e74cc3fc8e38c3099c49_Daniel.jpg

ELIZABETH, NJ - Community Access Unlimited is celebrating the progress of its members who have been diagnosed on the autism spectrum in timing with National Autism Awareness Month in April.

Community Access Unlimited (CAU) is a statewide nonprofit providing support programs and services to adults with disabilities as well as youth served under the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to enable them to live independently in the community, providing supports in areas including housing, vocational skills and life-skills training, education, advocacy and recreation.

Two younger members are representative of how CAU supports youth and adults with autism.

Sign Up for E-News

Daniel Jack (DJ) Sheppard is an 8-year-old with regressive autism. Early in life he met all his milestones – he had an extensive vocabulary and enjoyed playing. Then one day he stopped talking and playing and shut down.

While DJ's mother, Sarah Sheppard, wanted him to receive treatment, his father refused and even became abusive. Sarah left with DJ and was referred to CAU by Perform Care, a behavioral health managed care company. Schlier Langhorn, a CAU behavior technician, began working with him last July.

"Since Schlier has been working with him he is speaking in sentences and can sit still for a dentist," Sheppard said. "The change is amazing. She calls it generalizing his behavior so he can apply what she does with him when she's not here. It's entirely because of the work she does with him that he can do the things he does now. We can take him to a restaurant and events and not be afraid he's going to have a meltdown. It's been such a change."

Aidan Chetram is 10 and has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  For some time he struggled to learn in school, resorted to self biting when frustrated and grabbed others when he wanted attention. Aidan also has issues with acid reflux, which worsened his behavior.  

Aidan's parents, Julie and Aneil Chetram, were referred to CAU by Perform Care and in October several CAU behavior technicians began working with him. While focusing on self-biting and grabbing, they also included a plan to address his reflux issues. Once his dietary issues were under control, there was a significant decrease in his self-biting, according to Julie Chetram.

Additionally, Aidan "really wanted to interact with other kids and didn't know how to go about it," she said.

Langhorn and Roodlee Gaudin, another CAU behavior technician, created a series of videos that reflected positive social interactions that Aiden could mimic.

"They said let's try the technique of video modeling," Chetram said. "Now Aidan's behavior has improved dramatically. He thinks about how he approaches others. I feel positively that our son will be able to interact with other children appropriately."

The Chetrams both noted how knowledgeable and flexible are the CAU team members.

"There is great continuity between the three of them," Aneil Chetram said. "And they work with us and incorporate our ideas. They know that we know Aidan best and they listen."

According to the Autism Society, the prevalence of autism in the United States is estimated at 1 in 68 births and increased by 119.4 percent from 2000 to 2010, making autism the fastest growing developmental disability in the nation. More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. Cost of lifelong care can be reduced by two-thirds with early diagnosis and intervention.

CAU supports dozens of members with autism, both children and adults, according to Tracy Honig, managing director of behavioral supports. Members are supported either in their own homes or in CAU housing.

For families seeking in-home support for their child under the age of 21, services begin with a meet and greet with the member and his or her family, followed by an assessment completed by a Board Certified.

Behavior Analyst (BCBA). A support plan is created and then reviewed and modified to reflect goals set by the member and their family. Behavior technicians implement the plan with oversight from a BCBA, with reinforcement from family members.

Members with autism who live in a residential program at CAU receive support from members of the behavioral team at CAU and assessment by a BCBA or a masters-level clinician. Members work with their designated behaviorist to set goals and support staff is given guidelines on how to best help the member they support achieve the milestones set in their plan.

"At CAU we have been supporting people with disabilities for more than 38 years so we are ideally situated to help families with loved ones living on the autistic spectrum," said Honig. "We are one of the larger behavioral departments in the state and our staff is highly credentialed, more so than other agencies. In addition, we are very family-oriented. We will work with them to fulfill their needs."

About Community Access Unlimited

Community Access Unlimited (CAU), celebrating its 38th year in 2017, supports people with special needs in achieving real lives in the community. CAU provides support and gives voice to adults and youth who traditionally have little support and no voice in society. CAU helps people with housing, life skills, employment, money management, socialization and civic activities. CAU also supports opportunities for advocacy through training in assertiveness, decision-making and civil right. CAU currently serves more than 6,000 individuals and families, with the number served growing each year. For more information about CAU and its services, contact us by phone at 908.354.3040, online at www.caunj.org or by mail at 80 West Grand Street, Elizabeth, NJ 07202.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Plainfield

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_cf52296cc36dd5e70d9f_aunt_bertha

Fri, June 22, 9:30 AM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Health Plainfield Aunt Bertha Demonstration

Carousel_image_9f83f68274e587851440_volunteering_6_22

Fri, June 22, 2:30 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Volunteering

Carousel_image_26acfa8d783bf5d09f61_petra_6_22_library

Fri, June 22, 3:00 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

Petra's Musical Zoo

Reminder: Eligible Seniors Can Receive $25 in Free Vouchers for Farmer’s Markets, Starting June 25

June 21, 2018

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds income-eligible senior residents age 60 and over that they can apply for a total of $25 in free vouchers to purchase fresh produce. The vouchers may be used only at Farmer’s Markets in Union County that display a yellow and black WIC sign.

“Farmer’s Markets are a feature of community life throughout Union County in the ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 9, 2018

Dear Editor:

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by ...

North Plainfield Mom Maggie Grabko Gets Life-Saving Liver Transplant, Warren Fundraiser Set for Sunday

June 18, 2018

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ — Maggie Grabko, a North Plainfield mom of two, underwent a successful liver transplant on June 13, according to an update on the family’s GoFundMe page by her husband, Shawn Grabko. The Watchung Hills Elks are hosting a fundraiser, the Maggie Grabko Dinner and Music Fundraiser, at 1 Elks Trail in Warren on June ...

SRO'S - ENSEÑANDO POR EJEMPLO

June 17, 2018

Hay un grupo de oficiales de policía que les dan un servicio a nuestra comunidad de una manera notable. Todos los días estos hombres y mujeres se levantan, van al trabajo, y aseguran que nuestros hijos aprendan en un ambiente seguro. Los llamamos Oficiales de Recursos Escolares, pero son mucho más. 

Si llegas a la oficina de los Oficiales de Recursos Escolares en la ...

Empleando Nuestra Juventud 

Querido Plainfield, 

Todos esperan el verano; los días son más calientes y largos, y la madre tierra se pone su mejor vestido mientras las frutas se maduran en el sol y las flores ondean un alegre "hola". La gente comienzan los paseos de la playa o piscina, y las juntas de barbacoa en los patios son necesarios en los fines de semanas.

Aquí en la ciudad de ...

Meet Toran Smith: Union County All Star

June 18, 2018

Plainfield resident, Toran Smith, age 16, has been selected to play on the 2018 Union County underclassmen all star team.  On June 10th, the Union County All-Stars played against the Hudson County All-Stars at Kean University.  Smith played third baseman. 

Smith, a junior at Union County Vo-Tech magnet high school, is a Junior infielder on the Plainfield Cardinals Varsity ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)

 

A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly (Naval Institute Press, 2015)

Victoria Kelly's first published volume of poetry, When the Men Go Off to War, is a wonder in that poems can be written so beautifully about the subject of war. Each poem is a jewel, polished and colorful, glittering with elegant imagery, and rich in emotional wallop. The book, divided into three sections, ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

The Man in Room 306 at the Luna Stage, West Orange, NJ

            The Luna Stage, a Jersey theater gem, chose to revive its 1995 world premiere drama, The Man in Room 306, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Starring Jamil A.C. Mangan as Dr. King, this 90 minute production portrays Dr. King in the last hours of his life as he struggles to write a speech for the Poor ...

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)

 

I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that I had not absorbed anything that was happening in the story. I blamed myself for not paying ...