FANWOOD, N.J. -- First Children Services announces it will host an autism friendly “Trunk or Treat” event in Fanwood and across its New Jersey and Pennsylvania locations to help children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families celebrate Halloween.

Offered as a part of First Children Services’ STRIVE Autism Care Continuum, the free events are open to all families in the surrounding communities and will take place throughout October at First Children Services’ New Jersey and Pennsylvania locations. Usually each site has anywhere from 20-30 trick or treaters and about 10 trunks.

"Many of our staff noticed that children we served were not able to enjoy the holiday like their peers. Creating a smaller, autism friendly environment, we felt we could provide the same festive experience for our kids and their families while keeping everything safe." said Matthew Hess, CEO of First Children Services. 

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Established in 2016, First Children Services’ Autism Friendly Trunk or Treat events were launched to provide a fun, safe, sensory-friendly environment for children with autism and their families to celebrate Halloween. Each year, First Children Services’ staff dress up in costumes and decorate the trunks of their cars, incorporating festive décor and fun themes for the kids to enjoy, such as Star Wars and Frozen. To make the trunk or treat experience autism friendly, First Children Services’ trained staff supervise the events while ensuring that there is no loud music and the costumes and decorations are not too scary.  This year’s Trunk or Treat events will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Oct. 22 – 330 South Ave., Fanwood, NJ
  • Oct. 27 – 601 Bethlehem Pike, Montgomeryville, PA
  • Oct. 29 – 500 Creekside Dr., Pottstown, PA
  • Oct. 30 – 120 E. Kings Hwy., Maple Shade, NJ

“While trick-or-treating can be a fun activity for children with autism spectrum disorder, certain sensory stimuli and frequent social interactions with strangers can be particularly overwhelming or stressful for some individuals,” said Cindy Conley, MS, BCBA, First Children Services’ Director of Behavioral Health Treatment Services.

“Typical anxieties around Halloween for kids could be magnified for children on the spectrum.  For many kids with autism, socializing with their peers can be a challenge, something also magnified by typical trick or treating” added First Children Services CEO Matthew Hess.

In addition to trick-or-treating, First Children Services will also be offering tours of each of its locations to provide families with a firsthand look at its STRIVE Autism Care Continuum, which takes an integrated approach to addressing the unique needs of children on the spectrum and their families. Through its STRIVE Autism Care Continuum, First Children Services offers a community-centric, comprehensive suite of on-site diagnostic and assessment services, social skills groups, family support groups and community events that provide wraparound services and support to children with ASD and their families.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, First Children Services is implementing social distancing protocols at each Trunk or Treat event, including ensuring large spaces in between cars, enforcing one-way trick-or-treating, handing out candy with tongs, and wearing masks.

CEO Matthew Hess says each site's event is expected to have anywhere from 20-30 trick or treaters and about 10 trunks.

To learn more about First Children Services’ STRIVE Autism Care Continuum and its locations or to make a referral please call (888) 966-0746 or email referrals@firstchildrenservices.com.

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