(Editor’s Note: POAC is a local organization which does so much for autistic people throughout New Jersey, from trainings of educators and police officers to fun activities for families which are always free. Below is a piece I wrote about POAC last year. I’m posting it today because one of their many annual walks is this Saturday, April 23rd, at First Energy Park/Blue Claws Stadium in Lakewood. Registration is at 11:00, the walk begins at noon. For more information please go to www.poac.net. We would love to see you there, it’s not too late to sign up!)
I love POAC (Parents of Autistic Children, Brick NJ.)
I’ll have you know that for me to say I love something is a big deal, as I usually reserve such a glowing pronouncement for my family, wine, chocolate or Game of Thrones (yes, I’m a fantasy geek.) So I don’t pen these words lightly, and I’d like to tell you why.
For the past twelve years I’ve been wrestling with, learning from, and as much as possible embracing autism due to my boys’ diagnoses, and I’ve turned to many different individuals and organizations for help. I’ve been fortunate to receive excellent medical care through Autism Speaks, names of autism providers through Autism New Jersey, and other helpful hints and tips through a number of other organizations. I am grateful for all they’ve collectively done for my family.
But my heart remains with POAC.
In part it’s because I have a soft spot for the underdog, as this wonderful organization is funded solely by private donations. In part it’s because it’s local, and I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know its head honchos, who have been personally helpful to me in the past. If I’m honest though, there’s one main reason I remain faithful (and it’s not just the fabulous food they often have at events.)
It’s that they provide wonderful recreational outings for our families all year long, safe havens where anything goes and autistic children and their families can just be themselves.
Over the past nine years since we relocated to New Jersey I have attended numerous and excellent free workshops about autism that POAC has offered to the public. POAC has also provided my children with opportunities to surf, ride horses, go to Twisters, attend FunTime America, participate in elaborate carnivals at Georgian Court, and a myriad of other fun (and always free!) activities. There have been prolonged periods where it was almost impossible to get my severely autistic child, Justin, out of the house, and yet for the majority of the last few years we were able to attend these events, and at almost every one of them he had fun.
And truly, at the end of the day it should be about what he thinks is fun, not what I think should be fun for him.
POAC is having their annual Lakewood BlueClaws walk-a-thon on Saturday, April 23rd at 11:00 at First Energy Park in Lakewood, and I’m writing today to ask you to attend, or contribute, or both. The event is filled with autism-related vendors, a playground, food, and activities, and culminates in a powerful walk around the stadium, which moves me every single year.
We’re a community often divided. It is amazing to see such solidarity and support come together.
I’m including the link to POAC’s website below. I’ll be there on the 23rd with Zachary, who will be there not only walking for himself, but to support his older brother. I’ll be the short blond desperately trying to keep up with the super-fast nine-year-old (and failing miserably.)
Hope to see you there, and thank-you for reading!
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