April is Autism Awareness Month. It is important to understand that Autism does not discriminate. It can happen in any family.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the most dedicated, patient and loving parents. I have also worked with many dedicated professionals that have been willing to “think outside the box” to assist these special children. Each year during this time I reflect back on years past at the beginning of my families’ journey into the world of Autism. Parents have many different reactions when they receive the ”Autism Diagnoses.” I am here to tell you to take a deep breath… You can be the best advocate for your child. If I had had a crystal ball back in the year 2001, I could have never predicted the progress of my children. The key to beginning of your child’s success is Early Intervention. The earlier the better.
To parents of young children, with or without the diagnoses of Autism, I say to you, if your child is between the ages of 0-3 and is experiencing a delay in ‘basic skills for daily living,” such as speech, fine motor or gross motor skills, it is important to understand that the clock is ticking…… Early Intervention is so important. There are programs right here in Worcester County to help your child. First, it is important that you discuss your concerns with your child’s pediatrician. Then, contact your “Child Find Office” in your county. This office can conduct free testing by licensed professionals, to measure if your child is delayed in certain areas, and in the need of a little, or a lot of extra help assist them in acquiring skills.
Your child may qualify for assistance in your own home from a free program called the Infants and Toddlers Program. In this program, goals will be established for your child and the therapists will schedule visits at your own home where your child feels the most comfortable. If your child is suspected of having a disability, your next step may be to find a developmental pediatrician who can assist you in monitoring your child’s medical and therapy plan. There are also agencies, like Easter Seals, that can provide services to help with fine and gross motor skills. as well as. speech therapy.
Once your child turns three years old, if your child is still experiencing delays, or has a diagnoses, they may be found eligible for an Early Intervention Program. In Worcester County, these programs are located right in your neighborhood elementary school. Parents, special educators, and therapists will develop a measurable plan to assist your child in meeting his goals.
In Worcester County, this is free, half-day program where your child can continue to learn the “basic skills for daily living” and their progress is monitored. In addition, you do not have to wait until your child turns three to contact your local Health and the Developmental Disabilities Administration to see if your child qualifies for any services or programs that these agencies offer.
In closing, I want families to realize they do not have to go through this alone. You may contact the Autistic Children’s Support Group of Worcester County Inc. that is run completely by parent volunteers by going on the website at http://www.acsgwc.org/.
Wendy A. Di Buo
Act Now On Smoking
(The following letter was addressed to Ocean City officials.)
I was very happy to learn that you are finally getting serious about trying to again make Ocean City a “family friendly” resort by finally making the beaches and boardwalk smoke free. Many years ago, I brought this issue to your attention, http://mdcoastdispatch.com/2010/08/19/9380/, but you and former members of the City Council failed to act.
Instead of OC being a leader, it is a follower. It had to wait for all the Delaware, New Jersey and New York beaches to go smoke free before you finally considered doing the right thing.
You the elected officials were voted into office to make the tough decisions. To suggest that the no smoking issue should go to referendum is an indication that you don’t want to make tough decisions. A referendum will only delay the inevitable for another year. As you can see from this list, many jurisdictions already have smoke free beaches http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/SmokefreeBeaches.pdf. Rehobeth will be added to the next update to the list. The big question is: will Ocean City be.
Secondhand smoke exposure is unhealthy and a danger, especially to children. Smokers litter our beaches and city with cigarette butts. It is time to strengthen and ENFORCE litter laws! I brought this subject to your attention as well and nothing was done. I see now that you are considering this matter and encourage you to move forward with this as soon as possible.
Unless you act now, Ocean City will become the refuge for smokers looking to go to the beach and will make OC the cesspool of Mid- Atlantic beaches. A referendum is not needed, just as a referendum is not needed to approve the city budget each year. Please do your job and do it now. Make the 2014 beach season in Ocean City smoke free.
The Fourth Annual St. Joseph’s Day Italian Festival on March 22 sponsored by the Ocean City Lodge of the Sons of Italy and St. Luke’s/St. Andrew’s Catholic Church was another big success. We had over 1,300 attendees come through to enjoy our home cooked Italian meals and baked goods. They sat and listened to music provided by The Mario Monaldi Band from Baltimore (a favorite of Italian Festivals throughout the Mid-Atlantic;) bought Italian specialty foods and merchandise; participated in our large Silent and Chinese auctions; played some games of chance and watched their children enjoy making Easter crafts.
All in all it was a fun day and a very successful one for our charity and scholarship funds. We have many individuals and merchants to thank for their generosity in sponsoring our entertainment and auctions. These are the establishments that are the backbone of our community and we appreciate their support. It is a pleasure to acknowledge them and encourage your readers to support them.
Our benefactors in Ocean City included A Perfect Face, Bayside Skillet, Buddhas & Beads, Denny’s Restaurant, Dunes Manor Hotel Victorian Restaurant, Fager’s Island Restaurant, Fresco’s Italian Restaurant, Fox Sun & Surf Movies, Hatland, Hooked Restaurant, Kids Create Fun, Lombardi’s Restaurant, Ocean City Florist, Ocean City Organics, Inc., Old English Fish & Chicken, Old Pro Golf, Paws and Claws Etc., Peakey’s Restaurant & Bar, Sandy Paws and The Greenhouse Restaurant.
Our benefactors in West Ocean City included Food Lion, Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille, Hooters Restaurant, Lombardi’s Pizza, Outback Steakhouse, Peppers Tavern and West O Bottle Shop.
Our benefactors in Berlin and Ocean Pines included A Little Bit Sheepish, Baked Dessert Café & Gallery, Burley Oak Brewing Co., Deer Run Golf Club, Gold Crafts, Jennifer Hickman, LAC, Rayne’s Reef, Ta Da, Treasure Chest, Victorian Charm and World of Toys.
Other benefactors in Maryland were Dr. Marisa Carey, Dennis Shop and Whaleyville Vet Hospital.
Each one of these merchants played a part in our Festival’s success through their sponsorships, gifts and donations. We sincerely thank them all and we hope that the 2014 season will be their best ever.
And a very special thanks to all of you who came and enjoyed the afternoon with us. We had fun putting it all together. We hope you enjoyed yourself as much as we did. See you next March.
(The writer is the president of the Ocean City Lodge of the Sons of Italy.)
Thanks To Shelter
It’s time to shine a positive light on our beleaguered Worcester County Humane Society. As a volunteer there for several years, my primary involvement has been with our booth at Springfest and Sunfest, spending little time at the actual shelter itself.
Last week, however, it was time to happily choose a new kitty so, naturally, off to the shelter I went. What I saw there was an amazing group of dedicated volunteers, dutifully and happily cleaning cages and cat areas in preparation for the all-important feeding time. Although an innate fear keeps me away from the dogs, I did witness yet more volunteers walking/running with dogs and in several cases, training obedience to them. The animals are very well-treated, well-fed, clean and seemingly quite content – largely due to this dedicated group of volunteers.
Our new addition, a 2-year old gray tabby, has already brought tremendous joy to us in the short time we have had her with us, although it was an incredibly tough decision. She has easily adapted to her new life.
I think it speaks volumes of the Humane Society that by creating such a great environment for these animals, it makes them all the more socialized and ready to make the move to their “forever” home. I thank and urge everyone to continue their support of this vital safe haven.