Families of kids with Autism are guests of honor at the Warren ... - New Jersey Hills
WARREN TWP. -- The Warren Lions Club invited the new Comprehensive Autism Medical Assessment and Treatment Center of King George Road to have their client families be the guests of honor on Thursday, June 14, at the annual Warren Lions Expo.
From 4 to 6 p.m., admission, rides and games at the Expo were open to all families with special needs.
Sheri Marino Haiken, executive director of the Autism Medical Center, which is sometimes called the Autism Think Tank, said she sent an e-mail to their client base not knowing how many families of special needs children might come. Maybe 20 might come, she said she thought, maybe 40.
Well, what happened is that Haiken’s e-mail recipients then forwarded the invitation to their e-mail lists and so on and so forth.
By Thursday afternoon, as many as 350 people, all families with special needs children, arrived to take advantage of the offer by the Lions Expo and the Autism Medical Center.
Haiken said that families jumped at the chance for their children to be in such a welcoming, non-threatening environment for special needs children.
She said parents came up to her afterwards with tears in their eyes.
One was a parent of a 9-year-old who had never before been at an amusement park.
“He loved it,” Haiken said.
Some were going on rides like the Merry-Go-Round for the first time.
Other parents saw their kids take part in typical carnival games of chance, like squirting water in a hole to be the first to ring the bell, throwing bean bags to know over a wooden bottle, and shooting basketballs for stuffed animals.
“Everyone felt comfortable,” Haiken said. “They could be themselves. You should have seen the looks in the kids eyes. It was a great joy to me to see joy in the faces of the children.”
Among the 350 were families from many surrounding towns. Some families used the opportunity to network with other families.
Alka Singh of Warren Township was their with her son. She said they had had a wonderful time.
“This was a wonderful gesture,” she said. “We are very grateful. We hope to see more of these of opportunities for the kids.”
The families who were there included children affected by Autism, cerebral palsy and other disabilities as well as their neuro-typical siblings.
Even before they arrived, parents had been sending emails of appreciation and gratitude for this event to Haiken, because their children were being offered an opportunity to enjoy themselves while parents will have an opportunity to connect with other families with similiar needs.
Haiken said everyone was so appreciative to the Autism Medical Center and its Bright Star Therapy services. And everyone was so appreciative to the Warren Lions Club.
Autism Treatment Center
The Autism Treatment Center is the brain child of Dr. Paul Abend of Warren Township and a group of other professionals in the field, such as Haiken and the entire team at Bright Star Therapy, which provides all the various therapies for the clients of the Autism Medical Center.
The mission of the center is the medical and psychosocial stabilization of the child and family, aimed at improving functioning in the home, school and the community.
While there is no single cause, and no cure for autism, there is hope for improvement, according to the mission statement. Research and practice confirm that children with autism do evolve and change with effective treatment that targets specific symptoms, according to the mission statement
The Autism Think Tank brings together senior specialists from several disciplines to assess complicated cases by reviewing a child's records and charting a course for treatment based on family concerns.
The treatment center provides a range of traditional and nontraditional therapies to serve children and their families, including support for parents and typically developing siblings.
The center brings together recognized academic medical experts in the fields of: pain management, neurology, gastroenterology, psychiatry, allergy and immunology, pharmacology, biomedical, and dentistry.
At the center on King George Road, the Autism Think Tank can also bring together multi-disciplinary medical experts via videoconference to assess and make medical recommendations to parents and doctors of difficult to diagnose, medically fragile autistic children and adults.
The Center also offers a variety of integrative medical treatments and traditional therapies. A parent advocacy team is available to provide additional parent/child educational support.
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