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Community Access Unlimited Celebrates Union Members with Autism for Autism Awareness Month

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

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.

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Daniel Jack (DJ) Sheppard of Union 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  of Union 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."

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Light it Up Blue, Union

March 24, 2018

UNION, NJ - The Township of Union is asking residents to join the kick off to Autism Awareness Month on April 2 with the "Light it up Blue" campaign for autism.

Every April, the Township along with local merchants and hundreds of thousands of landmarks and homes around the world, participate in the campaign.

The Township encourages all residents and businesses to use blue ...

Union High School Class of 1998 Planning 20th Reunion

UNION, NJ - Has it really been almost 20 years since you graduated from high school?

The Union High School class of 1998 will be celebrating their 20 Year Reunion on July 13 and are looking for former classmates to help spread the word.

The event will be at the Galloping Hill Golf Course, 3 Golf Dr, Kenilworth.  Tickets are $105.00 per person, which includes dinner and ...

Scavenger Hunt in Union Center

UNION, NJ - Can you solve the puzzle?

Join us on a scavenger hunt throughout Union Center on Saturday, March 31, from 12:00 - 4:00 p.m.  Stop by the Special Improvement District's 'Welcome Station', located at 1000A Stuyvesant Ave, for your scavenger hunt map, first egg clue and more!

Additional Stops for more clues:
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Union High School's February Female Athlete of the Month: Lacey Beall

March 23, 2018

UNION, NJ – Union High School senior Lacey Beall, a member of the school’s bowling team, has been selected February’s Female Athlete of the Month.

What’s your favorite part of being a high school athlete?. 

The Team, it is like one big family. Traveling all over New Jersey every Saturday morning and spending the afternoon celebrating our win. If we do not win, ...

Union High School's February Male Athlete of the Month: Elijah Waldron

UNION, NJ – Union High School senior Elijah Waldron, a member of the school’s wrestling team, has been selected February’s Male Athlete of the Month.

What’s your favorite part of being a high school athlete?. 

I love the team aspect of it.  Most of my closest friends come from wrestling, and I perform better when I have to do it for a team. 

Who is ...

Upcoming Events


Mon, March 26, 6:00 PM

Vauxhall Public Library, Vauxhall

Hilton Readers Book Discussion Group: "The Other ...

Arts & Entertainment


Tue, March 27, 11:00 AM

Vauxhall Public Library, Vauxhall

Pre-K Interactive Learning Time: “Puzzles, ...

Arts & Entertainment


Tue, March 27, 2:00 PM

Union Public Library, Union

Tuesdays at 2 Movie: "Downsizing"

Arts & Entertainment


Thu, March 29, 3:00 PM

Vauxhall Public Library, Vauxhall

Tween Make It @ Your Library: "Butterfly"

Arts & Entertainment

Information on Parking and Traffic for Saturday's 'March for Our Lives' Event

March 23, 2018

UNION, NJ – It is anticipated that several hundred people or more will participate in the Union County March for Our Lives event on Saturday morning in Union.

Students, teachers, parents, clergy and public officials from all over Union County will be walking from Burnet Middle School to Town Hall in an anti-gun violence march.

Parking will be available in the following ...

Springfield Fire Department Delivers Baby on West I-78

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - On March 20, 2018 at 8:14 a.m. the Springfield Fire Department was dispatched to Route 78 Westbound near milepost 50.2 for a report of a woman in labor on the side of the road.  

Captain Mastroeni (Unit 2) & Chief Palumbo (Unit 1) were the first units to arrive on scene, and quickly recognized that the woman would be unable to make it to the hospital in time for ...

Margaret Salisbury of Union Receives Women of Excellence Award

GARWOOD, NJ – Union resident Margaret Salisbury was one of several Union County women honored with a 2018 Women of Excellence Award at an event Friday night.

The event, hosted by the Commission on the Status of Women and sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, honors women in different fields.  Salisbury received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

In addition to ...

Rummage Sale

March 11, 2018

UNION, NJ - A rummage sale is scheduled for Saturday, March 17, to benefit Union Abroad's Trip to Iceland.

The sale will be held at Union High School, 2350 N. Third Street, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Shoppers should enter through the "Rock" to Cafeteria A.


Man Dies from South Orange House Fire on Sunday

March 18, 2018

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - A man has died from a house fire on Warwick Avenue in South Orange on Sunday afternoon, stated Thomas Fennelly, Essex County Chief Assistant Prosecutor.

The fire, which began about 2 p.m. was contained by about 5 p.m., and required mutual aid from fire departments in neighboring towns, according to firefighters at the scene.

UC Tech Student Volunteers Put Fun and Games to Work for Special Needs Learners

March 22, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Earlier this month, a group of 51 students in grades 9 to 11 from the Teacher Education Academy at UC TECH staged an indoor carnival for special needs learners. More than 140 participants from the community attended the event and enjoyed plinko, corn hole, dance revolution, hula hoop activities, a DJ, prizes and more.

UC TECH is part of the Union County ...

AARP Driver Safety Class at Union Public Library

The AARP Driver Safety Course teaches valuable defensive driving strategies and provides a refresher of the rules of the road by trained volunteer. Since 1979, the course has helped more than 15 million drivers learn research-based tips to adapt their driving to compensate for physical and cognitive changes that may occur with aging. Plus, you may qualify for a multi-year automobile ...

Check Out BCB Community Bank's High Rate CDs

Get the most out of your savings with BCB Community Bank's high rate CD.

Check out BCB's 18-month CD interest rate.  Invest early and watch your money soar.  For more information, just visit or call your local BCB branch today in Union, Maplewood or South Orange:

Union Branch

2000 Morris Avenue
Union, NJ 07083

Maplewood Branch

156 ...

Union County Celebrates Arbor Day 2018 with Free Trees for Schools

In recognition of Arbor Day 2018, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is once again partnering with the Union County Shade Tree Advisory Board to sponsor the annual Arbor Day Tree Planting Program, which provides free trees for participating schools.

“The Arbor Day tree planting program is a Union County tradition that provides students with important hands-on lessons about the ...



AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


Queen Mary and the Cruiser

Queen Mary and the Cruiser by David A. Thomas and Patrick Holmes (Naval Institute Press, 1997)

“Had the forenoon watch and after eating went out onto the fo'c'sle. Just arrived at the top of the ladder by the PO's heads when the wave hit me---waist high---and knocked me over. Looking astern---through the bulkhead door which was open, saw the stern of a ship sticking up out of ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...

The Role of Meal Replacements in Weight Loss

March 20, 2018

Obesity is at epidemic proportions in the United States and in other developed and developing countries. The prevalence of obesity is increasing not only in adults, but also in children and adolescents. We all know that obesity is a significant risk factor for various chronic illnesses, most importantly heart disease and diabetes, but also cancer and osteoarthritis, liver and kidney disease, ...

Travels Update - Hillary Clinton’s Speech Moved to a Larger Facility for March 29

March 24, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK – Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics will host former presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton on March 29.

Originally scheduled for the College Avenue Gym, the event, entitled “A Conversation with the Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton,” has been moved to the Rutgers Athletic Center “due to the ...

Commemoration of Jay Kielwasser, Animal Control Officer

March 16, 2018

UNION, NJ – A commemoration of the late Jay Kielwasser's work as Union’s Animal Control Officer took place at Wednesday evening’s Board of Health meeting.

Board President Jackie Carter said Kielwasser, who passed away in April, was the first Animal Control officer appointed by the Board of Health. 

“You really don’t know how someone ...

Letters to the Editor