POAC is Making A Difference in New Jersey

According to the CDC, 1 in 6 children have developmental disabilities, and about 1 in 59 children are specifically on the Autism Spectrum. Worldwide studies put the percentage of Autistic Children at 1-2% of the population.

Here, in the state of New Jersey, 3% of our children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We have the highest documented rate of Autism nationwide. 5-8% of 8 year old boys in the state are diagnosed with Autism and compared to the national average of 1 in 59 children having Autism we are diagnosing children at a rate of 1 in 34. Some individuals are suggesting that the rates are higher, as young girls are under-diagnosed.

POAC Autism Services is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides many services to the community including:

  • Free training and education for parents and educators.
  • Free recreational and support services to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families
  • Free training for police and first responders which is saving the lives of children with autism throughout the state.

POAC has not only done all those wonderful things, but they have also funded the first statewide program for the early detection and intervention children with autism. They address, support and promote legislative issues that affect families and individuals with autism, and they sit on the NJ Governor’s Council on Autism.

One of the amazing events that POAC offers each year is their Autism Seaside Surfing Event which they hold with Sea of Change in Seaside Park, New Jersey. They do this with the funding of sponsors and vendors and just help families and individuals have a great time doing something they may not otherwise have easy access to. POAC pairs your child with a volunteer group and they spend time with your child in the water and on the beach. Hanging out with them, playing with them, and just plain having fun. This allows the parents to relax a little, have time to take pictures for once, and just plain enjoy the day. Instead of being 100% on-duty, they only have to be on-call.

The best part is, siblings and other family members are NOT left out. So you don’t have a “neurotypical” brother or sister wanting to surf, but they can’t because this is an autism only event. POAC provides services for the WHOLE FAMILY, not just those individuals with disabilities.

My son, our “NinjaBaby” as we call him, has Autism, and while he is very high functioning, sometimes he has outbursts or acts in a way that makes us timid to take him to standard events and happenings. Even in a state where autism is so prevalent, people are not always understanding. You get stares, snearing, snickers, and often even outright RUDE remarks.

“They need to learn to discipline their child”, “Look that kid is so spoiled”, “OMG I bet that kid has that autism disease”, are all things that can be heard often just by walking around Ocean County Mall, Freehold Raceway Mall, one of the various boardwalks in or just about anywhere that you might want to take an autistic child. That is to say, anywhere that you might want to take ANY child, because most autistic children don’t want to do anything different than other kids.

They like to play baseball, football or dance. They like to ride rides, go to movies, see shows, and read books. Some of them may focus on one element more, or even have a fascination in just ONE thing in total, but part of the job of a parent with an autistic child, is to expose them to new things and show them how big the world really is.

For more information about POAC please visit the POAC.Net website. For a list of their events and happenings follow this link to theĀ POAC – Events Calendar.

If you would like to see more of our adventures with the NinjaBaby please visit RaisingNinjaBaby.Me

FACTS (not alternative ones):

  • About 1 in 6 children in the United States had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism
  • About 1 in 59 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
  • About 1 in 34 children in the state of NJ has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
  • ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
  • ASD is about 4 times more common among boys than among girls.
  • 5% of all 8 year old boys in the state of NJ have been diagnosed with ASD.
Source: CDC; CDC; POAC