Hudson County is full of passionate people willing to fight for inclusion and awareness within our communities. Local non-profit Whole Spectrum Autism invites the community to do just that at the 7th Annual Light the Month Blue event on Friday, April 1st at City Hall in Jersey City at noon. Keep reading to learn more about the non-profit, its founder, and the upcoming annual event in Jersey City.
Autism Acceptance Month Begins April 1st
The Light the Month Blue event supports Whole Spectrum Autism, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization founded by CEO + Board President, Sherry Singh in 2016. The organization’s mission is to champion autism acceptance and inclusion by facilitating community engagement and serving as a voice for families whose loved ones are on the spectrum. The team at Whole Spectrum Autism also includes Rachel Sieg, Executive Director, Nicole Talavera who handles administration + support, and Ivet Bandirma as a development and organizational consultant.
“We believe in the power of community. We believe that education dissolves disparity. We believe that families that have been touched by autism deserve a voice,” Sherry told Hoboken Girl. “We host and encourage autism-friendly and inclusive events, and we partner with organizations that serve individuals on the spectrum and their families so that together, we can build more equitable and inclusive communities.”
On April 1st, everyone is welcome to attend the autism flag raising at City Hall in Jersey City, located at 280 Grove Street, at 12PM followed by the lighting of City Hall Plaza in blue at 7PM. This event kicks off Autism Awareness Month and gives families whose adult children with autism have aged out of support systems like schools, a chance to be recognized and receive the support they deserve.
“At the center of everything we do is the firm belief that all communities should strive to serve each and every member equitably. Without the right tools and education, however, this becomes a virtually impossible feat,” Sherry mentioned. “Children and adults on the autism spectrum are so individual in terms of needs and ability to interact, that most often we only see those who are on the higher end of the spectrum because they are more adaptable to environments outside the home.”
According to Sherry, there is a large number of families who are unable to fully participate in community life because events are not designed to be safe spaces for those on the autism spectrum.
“Autism acceptance means that families with loved ones on the spectrum feel comfortable in public spaces and at events because neuro-diverse behaviors such as vocalizing or stimming have been normalized,” Sherry said. “Inclusivity is not just a matter of culture or race – it’s a matter of critically looking at how to enrich community engagement by serving the needs of the many, not just the few. And, it requires the commitment of the many to make it a reality.”
A Life-Long Mission Toward Acceptance
Whole Spectrum Autism raises autism awareness + acceptance by hosting family-friendly, inclusive events throughout the year because autism isn’t just one day or one month – it is everyday living for so many.
“Advocacy and education are the core of our work; this is how we begin building inclusive communities and how we encourage one another to have conversations about what true inclusivity means,” Sherry mentioned. “This is also how we begin changing the system so that families can have the support they need for their adult children with autism.”
Sherry’s passion for the mission of Whole Spectrum Autism is personal. As the mother of her 37-year-old son, Ravi, who is on the autism spectrum and non-verbal, she is determined to build truly inclusive communities that welcome her son and families just like hers.
“For families with adult children with moderate to severe autism, help does not exist. As a society, we have failed at inclusivity in the most basic form: psychological and physical safety for all,” Sherry told Hoboken Girl. “I envision a world where I can walk outside – in peace – with Ravi; a world where his behaviors don’t scare people, where people are welcoming and loving, and where we all take care of one another. The vision of the community, as a whole, must be to include every single family and individual in community life, so that together, we eliminate the loneliness and isolation that is a part of your life when you have a child with a disability. It takes the cooperation of an entire community to make this happen.”
Everyone is invited to join Whole Spectrum Autism’s 7th Annual Light the Month Blue event on Friday, April 1st at City Hall in Jersey City.
Looking ahead to future events, Whole Spectrum Autism will also be hosting its 7th Annual Autism Acceptance Gala on Thursday, September 8th in Jersey City. The organizers guarantee a night filled with good company, great food + drinks, raffle prizes, and more. Tickets sell out every year so click here to add it to your calendar. All donations go directly to driving Whole Spectrum Autism’s mission.
Whole Spectrum Autism is located at 194 Newark Avenue, 2nd Floor in Jersey City. Families can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.