SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD -- Today marks the seventh annual World Autism Awareness Day, which organizations including the Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside, celebrate through unique fundraising and awareness-raising events.  Additionally, April is National Autism Awareness Month.

At the Scotch Plains Council Conference Meeting on Tues., April 1, Adrienne Robertiello, Community Autism Educator at the Children’s Specialized Hospital, outlined autism, a disorder causing neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication skills and the services offered at the hospital to families.  She went on to explain that the Children’s Specialized Hospital is dedicated to improving the lives of children, adolescents and families with ASD by providing comprehensive evaluations, treatment, research and the utilization of community programs.   

One in 45 children in New Jersey has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the highest rate among any state in the nation, according to a report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Meanwhile, an estimated one in 68 children was identified with ASD nationally.  The report found that autism is 4.5 times more prevalent in boys than girls.  The CDC fact sheet outlining key numbers in the agency’s latest report on autism and developmental disabilities is available online: 10 Things to Know About New Autism Data.

Sign Up for E-News

Last year, Robertiello co-wrote with Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr a paper entitled, Responding to the Rise in Autism, detailing an in-depth proposal to addressing autism at a local level.  The expert also praised efforts such as the Kohl’s Cares program that provides funding for initial screenings for the families in under-served populations.

“It is all of our hope that people become more understanding,” said Robertiello, who is also a parent of a son who has autism.

The latest estimate of prevalence of ASD represents a 30% increase from the figures in 2008 and nearly a 60% increase from the figures in 2006.  Detecting signs of autism at an early age improves the likelihood that an individual will have a better quality of life.

The Autism Program at Children’s Specialized Hospital works with children from birth through 21 years of age, who have an autism spectrum disorder.  Children’s Specialized Hospital is the largest regional provider of services for children with ASD and their families with over 12,000 annual outpatient visits.   For more information visit