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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey


Why World Autism Day Matters to Me

Apr 03, 2024 08:37AM ● By Debra Wallace Forman

As we celebrate World Autism Day on April 2, it is time to celebrate Adam, my 18-year-old son with autism, who navigates the world with a kind and tender heart. He has opened my eyes to the importance of accepting, including, and appreciating each of our children’s unique gifts and talents, instead of focusing on their quirks and shortcomings.

Currently, 1 in 36 children has been diagnosed with autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which means that most of us know or love a child, teen, or adult with autism.

As a well-meaning ‘Mama Lion’ who will always protect, defend, and help her cub, I am struggling to find a way to foster his independence. This is a precarious dance that we do every single day. As a devoted advocate for my son, I have always refused to believe the naysayers who have been quick to tell me what Adam cannot do and will never be able to do. They want me to decrease my expectations for him so neither of us is disappointed. I have always refused.

So, let’s spend today celebrating the loving, caring, and empathetic young man I have the privilege of calling my son, and for goodness’ sake, stop putting Adam and his peers in the boxes that society has carved out for them.  Never ever stop embracing their dreams, goals, and desires.

I believe with all my heart that every parent and child can step over those stumbling blocks and soar to new heights if love, tenacity, and desire are there.

Debra Wallace Forman is a contributing writer to Natural Awakenings.

Tick Talk

Spring officially sprung on March 21. We have turned our clocks ahead. We are looking forward to warm winds, sunny skies and the smell of fresh cut grass. The daffodils and tulips have recently bloomed and we are just starting with the yard work that comes with the warmer weather.  Sadly, another season has started ramping up.  Tick season.

•             The best form of protection is prevention. Educating oneself about tick activity and how our behaviors overlap with tick habitats is the first step.

•             According to the NJ DOH, in 2022 Hunterdon County led the state with a Lyme disease incidence rate of 426 cases per 100,000 people. The fact is ticks spend approximately 90% of their lives not on a host but aggressively searching for one, molting to their next stage or over-wintering. This is why a tick remediation program should be implemented on school grounds where NJ DOH deems high risk for tick exposure and subsequent attachment to human hosts.

•             Governor Murphy has signed a bill that mandates tick education in NJ public schools. See this for the details.  Tick education must now be incorporated into K-12 school curriculum. See link:

•             May is a great month to remind the public that tick activity is in full swing. In New Jersey, there are many tickborne diseases that affect residents, including Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Powassan, and Spotted Fever Group Rickettsiosis.

•             For years, the focus has mainly been about protecting ourselves from Lyme disease. But other tick-borne diseases are on the rise in Central Jersey. An increase of incidence of Babesia and Anaplasma are sidelining people too. These two pathogens are scary because they effect our blood cells. Babesia affects the red blood cells and Anaplasma effects the white blood cells.

•             Ticks can be infected with more than one pathogen. When you contract Lyme it is possible to contract more than just that one disease. This is called a co-infection. It is super important to pay attention to your symptoms. See link.

A good resource from the State:


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