The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundationhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=rssThe Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation News Feeden-usWed, 05 Nov 2014 14:41:09 GMT45Linda J. Walder Named as One of Five "Classic Woman" for 2014 by Traditional Home Magazine.http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=1517http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=1517Linda J. Walder, Founder and Executive Director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation is featured in the November/December 2014 issue of Traditional Home magazine as one of 5 "Classic Woman" in the United States, honored for her leadership and volunteerism.<br />Wed, 05 Nov 2014 14:41:09 ESTLinda J. Walder featured in Downtown Bergen Magazinehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=1505http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=1505DJF Foundation's Founder and Executive Director, Linda J. Walder is featured in the September 2014 issue of Downtown Bergen Magazine. Read about the latest accomplishments of the first national organization focused on adults living with Autism.<br />Mon, 08 Sep 2014 16:00:59 ESTThe DJ Fiddle Foundation Featured in the Autism Advocate Magazinehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=1342http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=1342The DJ Fiddle Foundation was recently featured in the Summer Edition of the Autism Advocate Magazine. Turn to page 35 to see the article.Tue, 24 Sep 2013 16:50:03 ESTLinda J. Walder appointed to The New Jersey Commission on National and Community Servicehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=1194http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=1194New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appointed Linda Walder Fiddle, Founder and Executive of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation on January 29, 2013 to become a member of The New Jersey Commission on National and Community Service. <br /><br /><br /><b>The New Jersey Commission on National and Community Service aims to do the following:</b><br /><br /><br />Develop a statewide ethic of service and a comprehensive, coordinated program targeted to the needs of New Jersey and its unique community challenges. The programs will provide opportunities for service that bring diverse people together working for a common cause to get things done in communities, remove barriers and promote respect.<br />Address the service needs of the state by prioritizing needs and problems, then targeting resources and grants to the priority needs.<br /><br />Guide the AmeriCorps program and ensure the effectiveness of its components.Develop and nurture partnerships among the education community, health care community, volunteer programs, the business sector, community-based agencies, foundations, state and local government units, cultural groups, youth programs and senior citizen groups that can work to meet the needs of our communities.<br /><br />Develop a well-planned strategy to ensure public awareness through various public relations approaches, highlighting quantitatively and qualitatively desired outcomes.<br /><br />Create a stable funding source for national and community service through fund-raising activities, endowments, and corporate funding to supplement other funding from the corporation.Infuse service-learning into the primary, secondary, and post secondary curricula to create future generations of adults committed to community service.<br /><br />The State Commission is a nonpartisan, Governor-appointed commission. It is hosted by the New Jersey Department of State, Office of Community Services. Its role is to guide and oversee New Jersey’s National Service programs.<br /><br />" I am honored and thrilled to join the Commission and look forward to helping foster and grow New Jersey's diverse service opportunities that enhance the lives of our citizens and are models for the nation," said Walder Fiddle.<br /><br />Thu, 31 Jan 2013 10:00:18 ESTLinda Walder Fiddle is quoted at advocacy event to support Senator Bob Menendezhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=1080http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=1080Linda Walder Fiddle is quoted at advocacy event to support Senator Bob Menendez for all he does to lead public policy on behalf of individuals and families living with Autism.<br /><br /><br />Thu, 18 Oct 2012 10:31:54 ESTMain Street Magazine features DJF Executive Directorhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=1011http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=1011See attached articleFri, 08 Jun 2012 12:46:57 ESTDJF FOUNDATION BEGINS ITS NEXT DECADE OF SERVICE http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=908http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=908Read about The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation in the January, 2012 edition of Autism After 16 as the organization approaches its 10th anniversary of service on behalf of adults living with autism. Fri, 13 Jan 2012 10:49:02 ESTThe Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Signature Program at Broadway Respite Care Featured on WPIX-11http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=749http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=749The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Signature Program at Broadway Respite Care Featured on WPIX-11 NYC in Autism Awareness Month 2011 Series.<br /><br />Watch the Story. Read the Blog.<br /><br /><a href="http://weblogs.wpix.com/news/local/morningnews/blogs/2011/04/autism_awareness_programs_for.html">Visit WPIX-11 here.</a><br />Sat, 09 Apr 2011 10:01:29 ESTLinda Walder Fiddle featured in March/April 2011 BC-Bergen County Magazinehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=725http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=725Linda Walder Fiddle is featured in the March/April 2011 BC-Bergen County Magazine. The article discusses the initiatives and accomplishments of Linda and The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation.<br /><br />You can read the entire article below.Wed, 16 Mar 2011 11:34:25 ESTLinda Walder Fiddle writes article in <i>Autism Advocate</i> magazinehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=568http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=568Read the article about health and wellness and adults in the 2010 issue of <i>Autism Advocate</i> magazine, the publication of the<br />Autism Society of America. The article, written by Linda Walder Fiddle, highlights the innovative initiatives of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation that focus on lifelong health and wellness. <br />Wed, 11 Aug 2010 09:56:29 ESTLinda Walder Fiddle is featured Interview in Autism Spectrum Newshttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=632http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=632Linda Walder Fiddle is the featured interviewee in the renowned autism publication, AUTISM SPECTRUM NEWS. The Fall 2010 issue is focused on adults living with ASD. Read the entire interview here.Thu, 28 Oct 2010 20:39:00 ESTLinda Walder Fiddle Introduces Senator Robert Menendez at AFAA Congressional Briefinghttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=546http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=546Linda Walder FIddle had the honor of introducing Senator Robert Menendez (NJ) at a Congressional Briefing hosted by the Senator and Congressman Mike Doyle (PA) for AFAA on July 15, 2010 at the Russell Senate Building, Kennedy Caucus Room in Washington, DC.<br /><br />Listen to Senator Menendez's address to AFAA:<br />http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuG7vlPlCnwSat, 17 Jul 2010 00:08:38 ESTDJF Launches Autism Awareness Month 2010- National and State Legislators Commemoratehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=496http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=496The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, the national autism organization focusing on adults, launched April 2010 Autism Awareness Month with National and State legislators and officials on April 1, 2010. US Senator Robert Menendez hosted an event with Congressman Frank Pallone, advocates, families and educators at Rutgers Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center and Linda Walder Fiddle, Executive Director of DJF was honored to address the audience. Later that day, Walder Fiddle hosted an event at The Ridgewood YMCA where Assemblywoman Joan Voss and State Senator Bob Gordon presented a proclamation citing April as Autism Awareness Month in the foundation's home state of New Jersey. Proclamations were also presented by Dennis McNerney, Bergen County Executive, Ridgewood Mayor David Pfund and Councilman Paul Aronsohn presented a proclamation from State Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle. US Senator Robert Menendez graciously presented Ms. Walder Fiddle a Proclamation from the United States Senate earlier in the day.Fri, 02 Apr 2010 14:46:54 ESTLinda Walder Fiddle Honored with Joint Resolution of NJ Legislature for Women's History Monthhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=477http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=477Linda Walder Fiddle, Founder and Executive Director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, a national autism organization based in Ridgewood that develops, advocates for and supports programs for adolescents and adults affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) was honored by the New Jersey Legislature on Monday, March 22nd as a distinguished New Jersey woman for Women’s History Month. Walder Fiddle was one of only two New Jersey women who were honored before the New Jersey Assembly. The Joint Legislative Resolution was presented by Assemblywoman Joan Voss with Assemblywoman Connie Wagner in recognition of Linda’s ”exemplary dedication and steadfast commitment in furthering awareness, support and services in New Jersey and throughout the United States for those challenged by ASD and for the standard of excellence she exemplifies.”<br /><br /><br />Pictured L to R: Linda Walder Fiddle and Assemblywoman Joan VossMon, 22 Mar 2010 21:49:59 ESTLinda Walder Fiddle Cited as NJ Hero by Governor Elect Chris Christie and the Inauguration Committeehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=433http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=433Below is a list of just some of the exceptional men and women who were nominated by their peers as New Jersey Heroes. Although only five of our New Jersey Hero nominees could be selected in the end to attend the inaugural events, everyone at the NJ Inaugural 2010 Committee would like to salute these and all the men and women around our great state who donate their time to causes they believe in and are working to make their communities a better place.<br /><br />Firefighters<br />Carl E. Griffin Sr & Kevin Hoy<br />were nominated for bravely rescuing two people from a fire.<br />Ralph Venturini<br />was nominated for his years of service to his hometown of Ramsey, where he has worked with the Office of Emergency Management, the first aid squad and Boy Scouts of America.<br />Drs. John & Alieta Eck<br />were nominated for their work offering free healthcare at their clinic, the Zarephath Health Center, in Franklin Township.<br />Thomas Peoples<br />was nominated for his work in New Brunswick, specifically with regard to organizing events for Night Out Against Crime and an annual Back-To-School BBQ that collects school supplies for neighborhood children.<br />Rich Lerche<br />was nominated for his years of service as a police officer in Allentown Borough and the New Jersey National Guard Reserves.<br />Career Transition Partnership<br />a volunteer organization dedicated to helping people in career transition find employment opportunities<br />Gordon Pete Sunkett<br />was nominated for his years of service to Winslow Township.<br />Bill Cleary<br />was nominated for the countless hours he has put into keeping his community informed of local events and news through his blog, Cleary’s Notebook.<br />Dr. Sabino Torre<br />was nominated for his work as a doctor at St. Barnabus Hospital in Livingston.<br />Charon J.W. Motayne<br />was nominated for her service to Newark, specifically on the issue of helping to provide affordable housing.<br />Ronald Charles<br />was nominated for his career in law enforcement and his work with the Mountain Top Recreation League, which organizes youth recreational activities and programs.<br />Detective Marc DiNardo<br />a Jersey City police officer who was killed in the line of duty. Detective DiNardo was nominated for making the ultimate sacrifice in the name of serving his community.<br />Sir Patrick Allen<br />was nominated for his dedication to the Children’s Hospital in Hackensack and his donation of time and resources for home repairs to neighbors in need.<br />W. Ed Griffin<br />was nominated for his work with the Naval Militia Foundation of New Jersey.<br />Dr. Steven Marcus<br />was nominated for his work on behalf of all New Jersey Citizens. Dr. Marcus created and still runs the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System.<br />Pastor Thomas Reddick<br />as nominated for his service to Newark, specifically through the Renaissance Center, which provides essential services to his community.<br />Al Graham<br />was nominated for his work feeding the homeless in Jersey City and Newark.<br />Linda Schiller<br />was nominated for her work founding and running Eleventh Hour Rescue, a nonprofit organization that saves dogs from death row.<br />Arlene Sullivan<br />was nominated for her work with the Changing Images Art Foundation, which brings interactive art projects to hospitals.<br />Cedrick Goodman<br />was nominated for his dedication to New Brunswick, particularly on behalf of the African American community.<br />Jordan Brown<br />was nominated for her work as a social worker and efforts to help victims of domestic violence through Strengthen Our Sisters.<br />Ken Hofbauer<br />was nominated for his work as his county’s HAZMAT coordinator.<br />Linda Walder Fiddle<br />was nominated for her work on behalf of the autistic community. Fiddle founded and runs The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, an all-volunteer run 501(c)(3) national autism organization that focuses on developing, advocating for and awarding grants to programs throughout NJ and the United States that benefit adolescents and adults with autism. <br />Wanda Webster Stansbury<br />was nominated for her years of service empowering women and serving the poor.<br />Sherry Biddle<br />was nominated for her work with her community’s volunteer fire and ambulance squad.<br />Sean Elwell<br />was nominated for his work as a volunteer EMT and firefighter. He also works with the Salem County United Way, the Salem Health and Wellness Foundation and Safe Kids New Castle County.<br />John Soares<br />was nominated for his work with the Ironbound Soccer Club, a youth soccer club in Newark.<br />Debbie Ashcraft<br />was nominated for her work with the volunteer ambulance squad in Penns Grove, as well as her work with the YMCA of Salem County.<br />Kenneth B. Coyle<br />was nominated for his 25 years of service as a detective with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. He is veteran of the U.S. Army and works with the Jersey Shore Hospital Pediatric ICU Ward.<br />Phil Molinero<br />was nominated for his work with the West New York Police Department and as a karate instructor in his community.<br />Pierce Fraueheim Jr.<br />was nominated for his work with the Somerville Elks.<br />Terri Esposito<br />was nominated for her dedication as the night, weekend and holiday disaster response dispatcher for the American Red Cross, Tri-County Chapter which serves 22 communities in Union, Middlesex and Somerset Counties. <br />Nicholas Williams<br />was nominated by his wife for his years of service to his community. He is a retired educator in Hudson County and current member of the ANSWER Water Rescue Team in Neptune. He also works with the American Red Cross Fire Response team in Monmouth County.<br />Michael Saudino<br />was nominated for his years of service to Emerson as a police officer and volunteer firefighter. Saudino is a member of the Nam Knights Motor Cycle Club and the Knights of Columbus.<br />Jeff Gillman<br />was nominated for his work with NewBridge Services, Inc., a nonprofit organization the works with the mentally ill.<br />Keith Benson<br />was nominated for his work with the NAACP of the Camden County East NAACP and coordinator of the Summer Youth Leadership Program which helps youths develop leadership skills and work experience.<br />Steve Steiner<br />was nominated for his work on behalf of the arts in Long Beach Island. He has been working with the Surflight Theatre, South Jersey Cultural Alliance, New Jersey Theatre Alliance and Ocean County Tourism Advisory Council. <br />Gary Englert<br />was nominated for his work on behalf of our armed forces, specifically his work raising funds for soldiers suffering from traumatic brain injuries.<br />Frederick S. Doolittle<br />was nominated for his years of service to Gloucester Township.<br />Jane Cosco<br />was nominated for her work with Operation Goody Bag, an organization that gets young people involved in creating care packages for our troops.<br />The Three Doctors Foundation<br />is an organization started ten years ago by Drs. Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins. They provide underserved communities in our state with a series of free health, education, leadership and youth mentoring programs. <br />Warrie Howell<br />was nominated for her work with multiple charities, including the March of Dimes, First Night Morris County, the Woman’s Club of Morristown and Rainbows-NJ.<br />Robin Turner<br />was nominated for her advocacy work on behalf of people living with developmental disabilities, culminating in her efforts to pass Danielle’s Law.<br />Peter J. Runfolo<br />a veteran of the Korean War, was nominated for his lifetime of service to his state and community. He was worked with such charities as Make-A-Wish Foundation and Friends of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.<br />Diane Gruskowski<br />was nominated for her work on behalf of the men and women living with developmental disabilities. She turned personal tragedy into safeguard protections for people with disabilities through her efforts to pass Danielle’s Law, legislation named after her late-daughter.<br />Richard D. Pompelio<br />was nominated because he has dedicated his personal and professional life to victims of crime. He is an advocate for protecting the rights of victims in our judicial system and has donated countless hours of pro bono legal work to victims of violent crimes.<br />Cathi Rendfrey<br />was nominated for her work with the Women’s Opportunity Center in Burlington County, which supports displaced homemakers - women who have lost their primary source of income due to divorce, separation, death, disability of a spouse, or a spouse who has been deployed in the military - and who must therefore obtain or upgrade their skills for transition into the paid labor market.<br />Dr. Debra Wentz<br />is the CEO of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies, Inc. She was nominated for her role in caring for a man who was paralyzed after suffering a brain hemorrhage and had no one to care for him. After learning about his plight, Dr. Wentz assumed responsibility for him and kept him from slipping through the cracks of the system. <br />Joseph Badgley<br />was nominated for his service as a Corrections Officer in Essex County, an EMT and a volunteer firefighter. He is also a volunteer Little League coach.<br />Linda Cardell & her partner, Kobie<br />were nominated for their work with West Jersey K9, a search and rescue team. <br />Karen Zaledzieski<br />was nominated for her work volunteering for Family Intervention Services.<br />Susan Enderly<br />was nominated for her work as an political advocate and grassroots organizer.<br />Ruth Dugan<br />was nominated for her work with Gilda’s Club of Northern New Jersey.<br />Mike Devlin<br />was nominated for his work as President of the Camden City Garden Club, which has built thirty-one new community gardens in Camden under his leadership. Because of these new community gardens, residents of Camden can grow their own fresh food that would otherwise be difficult to find due to a lack of supermarkets inside city limits. <br />Mon, 18 Jan 2010 19:13:06 ESThttp://www.njinaugural2010.com/njheroes2.htmlDJF Develops Essential Programs For Escalating Population Of Adults With Autism Spectrum Disordershttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=425http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=425<p><b>THE DANIEL JORDAN FIDDLE FOUNDATION FOR <i>ADULTS </i>WITH AUTISM DEVELOPS ESSENTIAL PROGRAMS FOR ESCALATING POPULATION OF ADULTS WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS (ASD)</b></p><p><b><i>National Autism Organization Tackles Growing Crisis of Adults with ASD By Developing and Funding New Community-Based Programs from Coast-to-Coast </i></b></p><p>New York – January 11, 2010 – The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation (DJF), the national autism organization that focuses <i>exclusively</i> on developing, advocating for and then supporting programs for adolescents and adults with autism, announces <b><i>The Daniel</i></b><i> <b>Jordan Fiddle Foundation Signature Programs</b></i> in response to the critical needs of this burgeoning age group with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).</p><p><i>"<b>We need to focus on adults NOW and prepare to provide the one million individuals currently on the spectrum the best opportunities and support systems possible for their</b> <b>adult lives,"</b> </i>says Linda Walder Fiddle, founder of the organization that bears the name of her son Danny who had ASD and passed away at age 9. For 2010, DJF is confronting this escalating need head on with innovative programs that are designed to be replicable models for community-based providers everywhere. (The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation is a volunteer-run 501(c)(3) national autism organization based in Ridgewood, NJ. <a href="http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org">www.djfiddlefoundation.org</a>.)</p><p><b>The latest Federal statistics show that 1 in 110 individuals is diagnosed with autism each year, an increase from the previously reported 1 in 150, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control. Two decades ago an autism diagnosis was one in 10,000 individuals. Today there are more than one million people who have been identified on the autism spectrum in the U.S.; approximately 80 percent are younger than 22. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation is at the forefront of addressing the issues that will face these individuals in adult life.</b></p><p>DJF, the only national organization that focuses exclusively on program development and support for autism and adults, has been a primary national catalyst since 2002 in bringing the needs of adults with ASD to public awareness and has shared their findings and problem-solving ideas about adult issues with organizations that previously only focused on children or medical/diagnostic research. The foundation takes a unique, hands-on approach towards awarding grants, often reaching out to service providers and then helping them develop the programs it funds. <b><i>"Awarding the grant is only part of our story,"</i> </b>explains Walder Fiddle.<b> <i>"DJF is committed to identifying and filling the gaps in services for adults with ASD. Our ideas inspire the majority of the projects we fund and often ignite the entire process." </i></b></p><p>Michael John Carley, executive director of The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP), reports, <b><i>"When Linda and I discussed how our organizations could partner, her first question was 'what needs are not being met?' When I told her we had several newly-realized Asperger's 'seniors' who were not comfortable in the younger age support groups, she suggested that we pilot a support group for the 60+ age group that specifically focuses on their needs and challenges. This will be the first such group in the United States and will underscore the fact that people with Asperger Syndrome come in all ages, and we need to support them throughout the lifespan."</i></b></p><p>In 2010, the DJF Board has decided to put a stake in the ground with some of its well-established collaborators nationwide, including: The New England Center for Children (MA); Vista Inspire Program (CA); Chapel Haven (CT); Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) (AZ); The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP) (NY) by establishing a "Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation" named program that will assure these organizations' ongoing commitment to adults with ASD. Two additional long-time DJF programs will also join the group of signature programs: one is a hotline and resource guide; the other is family respite/weekends that include the participant with ASD and his/her family. </p><p><b><i>"One of the most important ways to increase opportunities for adults with ASD is for organizations to share information about programs that are successfully providing new avenues for participation in and contribution to society by those on the autism spectrum,"</i></b><b> </b>says Walder Fiddle. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation facilitates this collaboration through its signature programs, advocacy and communication platforms.</p><p>Among the recipients of a DJF 2010 Signature Grant is Chapel Haven, Inc., a renowned program for adults with ASD located in New Haven, Connecticut, and Tucson, Arizona. Its president Betsey J. Parlato had this to say about DJF: <b><i>"In true social entrepreneurship style, The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation approached us with the innovative idea of conducting a study to determine what interventions would affect the health and wellness of adults on the autism spectrum. No entity has as yet studied this important component of supporting the ASD adult population. When completed, the outcomes of 'The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Health and Wellness Program at Chapel Haven' could have a major impact on the industry that serves adults on the spectrum."</i></b></p><p>The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Signature Programs<b> </b>focus on a range of issues identified by DJF during the past eight years. According to Walder Fiddle: <b><i>"We have served on task forces, developed surveys and think tanks with collaborative groups and participated in symposiums where the needs of adults have been identified. We have actively listened to our own self advocate advisory board and other self advocates to get first-hand input on the challenges faced by them and their peers." </i></b></p><p>The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Signature Programs will address such areas as: </p><p>--transition to adult life</p><p>--employment skills building</p><p>--health and wellness</p><p>--support for senior citizens with ASD</p><p>--self-advocacy training</p><p>--support for those in underserved communities</p><p>--recreation and cultural activities</p><p>--family support and community resources</p><p>In addition to the 2010 DJF Signature Programs, the foundation also will provide "seed" funding for one year to new endeavors that address even more cutting edge initiatives such as specialized training of college professors and mentors about ASD to accommodate the growing number of individuals with ASD who can pursue higher education, entrepreneurial endeavors in horticulture and farming, graphic design and computer training.</p><p>Says Walder Fiddle<i>; <b>"The alarming number of autism diagnoses in the nation underscores the critical need of providing services to the increasingly large adult autism population. We are preparing for the storm, so that we as a society are ready and able to handle the obstacles adults affected by ASD face. A primary focus of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation is to raise awareness that autism is not just a childhood disorder; it is a challenge that spans a lifetime."Mon, 11 Jan 2010 10:00:50 ESTAchieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) Introduced in US House and Senatehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=392http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=392The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) of 2009 (S 493/HR 1205), which is supported by over 40 national disability organizations,including The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, has been introduced in both the Senate and House. The ABLE Act will give individuals with disabilities and their families the ability to save for their child's future just like every other American family, and help people with disabilities live full, productive lives in their communities. <br /><br />The ABLE Act will allow individuals with disabilities to create a disability savings accounts or "ABLE Accounts" that would accrue interest tax-free. The account could fund a variety of essential expenses for the individual, including medical and dental care, education, community based supports, employment training, assistive technology, housing and transportation. Importantly, the legislation prohibits amounts held by, or paid or distributed from, any ABLE accounts from being treated as income or assets when determining eligibility for benefits provide by any federal benefits program.<br /> <br />Asset development is one step toward improving economic self-sufficiency, and the legislation's focus on encouraging asset development will greatly incent people with disabilities to live more productive lives through earning and saving resources for their future.<br /><br />Please show your support of this important legislation by contacting your elected representatives in Washington, D.C. Use these websites to find them:<br />http://www.senate.gov<br />http://www.house.gov<br /><br />Mon, 30 Nov 2009 21:08:55 ESTDJF Receives 5 Prestigious Awards in 2009 http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=387http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=387Linda Walder Fiddle, Founder and Executive Director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation and The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation have been awarded a total of 5 prestigious awards in 2009 in recognition of the organization's national leadership in creating awareness and solutions to address the needs of adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) throughout the United States. The all-volunteer organization, established to develop, advocate for and support programs for adults with ASD, has received: a Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference; the Jefferson Award in recognition of outstanding service to the community; the organization award from the NJ Coalition for Inclusive Ministries; The Family Resource Network's Community Service Award; and Ms. Walder Fiddle is featured in the December 2009 issue of REDBOOK magazine as one of the 5 most inspirational women in the United States and has been honored with a REDBOOK HERO, Strength and Spirit Award.<br /><br />"We are extremely grateful for this extraordinary recognition in 2009 especially because these tremendous accolades help to create more awareness that ASD is a life long challenge and the futures we create for all those affected by this challenge will not only affect them but will enhance the community at large through their contributions and participation in community life," said Linda Walder Fiddle, " we will continue to strive to open doors for full, healthy lives for all adults with ASD."<br /><br /><b>Redbook Heroes:</b> <a href="/userdocs/DJF-RedbookHeros.pdf">Strength & Spirit Awards—2009's Most Inspiring Women</a><br /><br /><b>Star Ledger:</b> <a href="http://www.nj.com/helpinghands/jeffersonawards/index.ssf/2009/12/2009_jefferson_awards_recipien_22.html" target="_blank">2009 Jefferson Award Recipient: Linda Walder Fiddle</a>Thu, 12 Nov 2009 10:18:38 ESTCounty salutes its ‘champs’ at Disabilities Event---DJF Self-Advocate Paul Voss is Recognized! http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=394http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=394October is designated as National Disability Month and Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney and the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders declared Oct. 30 as National Disability Day for 15 individuals and organizations committed to improving the lives of those with disabilities and those living with disabilities in the 11th Annual Salute to Champions awards and breakfast event.<br /><br />"We’re really recognizing the selfless acts of certain individuals and to celebrate the people of advocacy for disabilities and their endless contributions they make throughout – not just today – but the year," said McNerney.<br /><br />Sen. Loretta Weinberg was also on the list of VIPs that attended the special celebration and expressed her astonishment in the county’s growing Division of Disability Services, who served under former Bergen County State Sen. Jeremiah O’Connor’s County Freeholder administration when the division was created in 1978.<br /><br />"For me, to see the office grow to this extent and to be able to see so many people honored for their advocacy for disabilities is amazing," said Weinberg. "I think it’s more important to have role models for people who have disabilities and to honor those people who have spearheaded advocacy for disabilities."<br /><br />One of the inspirational champions awarded was Fort Lee resident T. Paul Voss, a self-advocate of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation (DJF) – an all-volunteer national autism organization in creating opportunities for adolescents to adults living with autism. He helped develop Garage Theater, a special theater program for adults with Asperger Syndrome, in conjunction with DJF.<br />"<br />Challenged by Asperger Syndrome, Voss explained his world "as if you were living in a country you don’t know and didn’t know the language." He claimed himself as a "work in progress" but theater is what gets him going and makes him whole.<br /><br />"I love theater and you can be whoever you want to be but the true nature of success is that art imitates life," said Voss. "It means life first. Live in the present moment positively."<br /><br />President of DJF Linda Walder Fiddle complimented Voss’ success as an inspiration to the entire community!" <br /><br /><br /><br />Tue, 01 Dec 2009 18:04:28 ESTAdults with Autism Task Force Releases Its Findings and Recommendationshttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=388http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=388The New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force today released its report describing the needs of adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and presenting both short and long-term recommendations designed to address these needs to Governor Jon S. Corzine and the New Jersey Legislature.<br /> <br /> <br />The New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force, created by legislation (A4057/S2559) signed on September 12, 2007 by Governor Jon Corzine (PL 2007, c. 173), charged the task force with studying, evaluating and making recommendations intended to meet the needs of adults associated with the significant challenges presented by autism.<br /><br />“The work of this task force will serve the future of our state as we seek to support the efforts of adults with autism in living as independently as possible and achieving their own personal best,” said Governor Corzine. “New Jersey will continue working with individuals with autism and their families in an effort to meet this challenge.”<br /><br />This legislation created a 13 member task force comprised of an adult with autism, family members of individuals with autism, advocates and professionals in the field of autism, representatives from Autism New Jersey, formerly The New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community (COSAC); Autism Speaks; and the Asperger Syndrome Education Network (ASPEN). The members also include representatives of the Governor's Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism and the state Departments of Human Services, Health and Senior Services, Education, and Labor and Workforce Development.<br /><br />Deborah Cohen, Ph.D., Director of the Governor’s Council on the Prevention of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, served as chair of the task force on behalf of Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “I would like to thank the Adults with Autism Task Force for dedicating their time and experience to this important effort,” said Commissioner Velez. “This report provides an opportunity for renewed focus on Autism Spectrum Disorders as well as the broad range of issues that surround the entire disabilities community. The task force members will be a wonderful partner in this effort.”<br /><br />The Adults with Autism Task Force report includes, among its many findings, that adults with autism require individualized support in transitioning from the educational system into adulthood, life-skills training, day programs to attend or job training and placement, health care, housing, transportation and assistance with legal issues. Primary among these is establishing a centralized Office of Autism Services to oversee services for adults with ASD and their families. View the report on the DHS website.<br /><br />"As an adult on the autism spectrum from New Jersey, I'm proud that my state is recognizing that autism supports are a lifespan issue," said Ari Ne'eman, the President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and the task force's vice chair. "This report recognizes that Autistic adults are not some new phenomenon. We deserve to be seen as full members of our local communities and more effort must be undertaken to ensure our civil and human rights are realized."<br /><br />Autism is a lifelong disability and is the most common condition in a group of developmental disorders known as ASDs. Other ASDs include Asperger Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. These disorders are characterized by limits in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and unusual repetitive activities or severely limited interests. <br /><br />“The release of this report signifies not only the recognition that New Jersey has identified the need to focus on the fact that 1 in 94 individuals are affected by ASD, but that there is now a framework for the Legislature and administrators to address the lifelong challenges they face,” said Linda Walder Fiddle, Executive Director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, a national organization focusing on adults with ASD. “I have been working on a legislative package with Speaker Roberts to address key issues identified by the task force aimed at improving the administrative and service systems so that individuals with ASD and their families can attain the support they need throughout the lifespan,” added Walder Fiddle.<br /><br />As part of their study and evaluation of the needs of adults with autism, the task force conducted six public forums in March 2009. The forums were held at Bergen Community College, Paramus; Monmouth County Library, Manalapan; Burlington County Human Services, Mount Holly; Hudson Community College, Jersey City; Cumberland County Library, Bridgeton; and the Historic Courthouse in Flemington. Testimony from the forums, as well as communications submitted to the task force, was used in the development of these findings and recommendations. <br /><br />DHS provides a variety of services and supports to people with ASD as well as other types of disabilities. The Division of Disability Services’ Office of Information and Assistance Services is a single point of entry for callers to access information regarding the state human services system. Certified Information and referral Specialists assist New Jersey residents with any disability-related need by calling 888-285-3036 or 609-292-7800 or (TTY) 609-292-1210.<br /><br />The DHS’ Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) provides day services, residential programs and other services and supports to adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. DDD estimates that 23 percent of the almost 40,000 people to whom the division currently provides services have an ASD diagnosis. DDD makes determinations for eligibility for its services. DDD information is available by calling 800-832-9173.<br /><br />Governor Corzine will be attending Autism New Jersey’s 27th Annual Conference on Friday, October 9th at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, to make an announcement regarding the recommendations offered in this Task Force report. His remarks will begin at 12:45 p.m.Fri, 13 Nov 2009 11:38:32 ESTDJF Releases Autism, Epilepsy & Seizures Brochure As A Public Servicehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=363http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=363The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation (DJF) has produced and released the first brochure that specifically focuses on Autism, Epilepsy and the Co-Condition as well as how to recognize seizures and basic first aid when you do. This public service brochure that can be downloaded, reproduced and read free of charge, and will be offered on the websites of autism and epilepsy organizations, community first responders and service providers and medical providers, was produced by DJF in collaboration with the Epilepsy Foundation of NJ, Autism Family Services of NJ and with the medical oversight of DJF Advisory Board member, Dr. Ruth Nass who is a renowned expert in the field of autism and neurology and affiliated with the NYU Child Study Center. " It is our hope that this informational brochure will create awareness among those affected autism and the community about the prevalence of the co-condition and will offer a starting point for further inquiry with one's physician," said Linda Walder Fiddle, Executive Director of DJF. " We hope that first responders, classroom teachers, service providers and families will hang up the informational fold-out chart that describes different types of seizures and what to do if one occurs," added Dr. Nass " and hopefully this will help to identify the co-condition and even better, save someone's life."Wed, 07 Oct 2009 22:56:39 ESTDJF Receives Community Service Award from Family Resource Networkhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=353http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=353On Thursday, September 22, 2009 Linda Walder Fiddle and Fred Fiddle accepted the 2009 Community Service Award from The Family Resource Network and Autism Family Services of NJ. "This award, given by our peers, is particularly meaningful because we admire the work these organizations do to help individuals, families and the community," said Linda Walder Fiddle, DJF Executive Director. " We are putting the finishing touches on the first Autism and Epilepsy Brochure that our organizations have created as a public service to raise awareness about the co-condition and first aid advice should the need arise," added Walder Fiddle. The brochure is a collaborative effort that also includes the oversight of one of the country's top neurologists specializing in autism and epilepsy, Dr. Ruth Nass and the NY Child Study Center. " We look forward to launching the brochure next month when Linda and I present this information at an upcoming conference," added Dr. Nass who also serves on the DJF Advisory Board.Wed, 23 Sep 2009 22:56:07 EST READ Article on Foundation's Far Reaching Effecthttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=339http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=339Linda Walder Fiddle is a on a mission. The Ridgewood mom is a nonstop bundle of energy. She was an attorney for a top New York City law firm and had a successful career in public relations, but her passion now is The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation.<br /><br />The all-volunteer public foundation was inspired by the life of her late son Danny, who had Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and it is a mother's passion that is evident in her dedication. Although her son was only 9 when he died, Fiddle was already well aware that there was a vast need for programs and services for adults with ASD. That realization drives her to develop and award grants to residential, vocational, educational, recreational and family programs that benefit adolescents and adults.<br /><br />Recent grantees include innovative programs that hold special appeal for Fiddle. One of these is "Recipe for Success," a program for the Triform Camphill Community in Hudson, N.Y. The residential community received a grant to help launch a cookie making business.<br /><br />In Santa Monica, Calif., money will go toward expanding a musical theater and film program where adolescents with autism will be able to write stories and appear in a live production along with their typically developing siblings and peers.<br /><br />Closer to home, West Bergen Mental Healthcare received a grant to create a role model counselor-in-training program for young adults with Asperger Syndrome. The young adults are learning CPR along with practicing their social skills in a work environment. The goal is that they will be excellent role models for younger campers with the same syndrome.<br /><br />And right in Ridgewood, Fiddle is working closely with the YMCA on two programs. One is an extension of an already successful art program and the other is a special pilot exercise program that can be used as a model throughout the country.<br /><br />Arts Unbound provides education and vocational training in visual arts. In 2007, Fiddle funded a pilot program in Orange for young adults and adults with autism with artistic talent to take master art classes and then exhibit and sell their work. Thanks to an additional grant, classes have now expanded to the Ridgewood YMCA.<br /><br />Fitness Independence Training (FIT) is a new exercise program which started on June 6. Kathi Meding, executive director of the YMCA's Oak Street branch, is thrilled with the program. "It's going beautifully," she said. "Linda put the whole thing together through her incredible network."<br /><br />The YMCA provides memberships, instructors and the facility, while the supervisors come from the Alpine Learning Group. FIT matches up six adolescents or young adults who could benefit from an exercise program with six peer mentors. "Our goal is to identify participants who can transition to our typical exercise classes and go independently just like any other member here," noted Meding. The participants meet twice a week for four hours at a time. First they have a 45-minute step aerobics class, followed by a yoga class and swim time. The peer mentors help them as much as needed to follow instructions and to learn the routines of locker room. "Linda did most of the recruiting for peers and she's gathering all the information," said Meding, who is very impressed with Fiddle's dedication.<br /><br />Fiddle is very appreciated by the people she works with and by the individuals and families that The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation was created to help. Now she is also receiving outside recognition for her public service. In May she won a Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference and in June she received the Jefferson Award for Public Service.<br /><br />Always humble, Fiddle says that she is thankful for support from her husband Fred, her daughter Ava and her town. "I am so grateful to this wonderful community of Ridgewood," she said. "People really care. The merchants and women's clubs have been so supportive of our efforts to enhance people's lives right here in our own backyard."<br /><br /><a href="http://www.northjersey.com/news/health/Foundation_has_far_reaching_effects.html" target="_blank">http://www.northjersey.com/news/health/<br>Foundation_has_far_reaching_effects.html</a>Thu, 20 Aug 2009 22:50:18 ESTRead Linda Walder Fiddle's 2 Articles in Summer 2009 Autism Spectrum Newshttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=332http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=332Read 2 articles written by Linda Walder Fiddle, Founder and Executive Director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, that appear in the Summer, 2009 issue of Autism Spectrum News.Thu, 30 Jul 2009 22:48:52 EST How Much Do You Know About DJF?--Click Here!http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=326http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=326Read 10 facts that set The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation apart from other organizations. Support our mission to provide opportunities for adults with autism to live, work and recreate in communities throughout the United States by making a donation from our website. Read 10 Facts Here... <br /><br /><br />1. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation is the only national, not-for-profit autism organization with the mission to develop and award grants to programs for adolescents and adults with Autism.<br /><br />2. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation is named in memory of Danny Fiddle whose life inspired the realization that there is a shortage and need for programs for adults with Autism.<br /><br />3. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation is a public foundation that means that we raise the funds that support our programs and advocacy efforts through community based events and donations from the generous and caring public.<br /><br />4. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation is run completely by volunteers, even Linda Fiddle, who is the Executive Director, thus all donations go directly towards the foundation’s mission.<br /><br />5. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation develops residential programs for adults with Autism on farms, in suburban communities and in cities so that they can live in the communities they feel most comfortable in. Current programs include a farm in Ohio called Bittersweet Farms where young adults and adults grow organic crops, take care of the animals and sell their produce. A 2009-2010 grant at Triform Farm in Hudson, New York is called “Recipe for Success” and the farmers there will start a cookie baking business that is being funded by The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation.<br /><br />6. The Daniel Jordan Foundation develops vocational-job programs for adults with Autism and for young adults entering the job market. In 2009-2010 we will fund a counselor-in-training program in New Jersey and in Georgia where the participants will learn job skills like interviewing, time management, safety training and even things that simple like, punching a time clock when they arrive and leave work to record how they long they worked that day. We also support and develop other programs that help <br />adults with Autism figure out what job they would like, how to get it and how to get the support they need to be successful.<br /><br />7. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation develops educational programs for adults with Autism. In 2009-20l0 promising artists with Autism will receive art training and learn to improve their painting and drawing techniques and skills. They will also have the opportunity to exhibit their artwork and sell it to the public. This program is called Arts Unbound.<br /><br />8. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation develops recreational programs for young adults and adults with Autism. In 2009-2010, the foundation will support a horseback riding program in Virginia and a program called, Fun with Friends, in New Jersey where adults who need one-on-one support will go to events like the circus or to the movies so that they can out in the community and participate. We will also have music/art programs in New Jersey with peer mentors (teens with Autism and teens who do not have Autism paired together) and one for adults in living in group homes (homes where 4-5 individuals live together with support staff) in Chicago.<br /><br />9.The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation has many students who volunteer at our events like at our annual Lacrosse Tournament or at our Holiday Shopping Event at Mango Jam in Ridgewood. Students sell our logo items including wristbands, blessing candles and logo jewelry and belts. They also sell raffle tickets to win exciting prizes at each event.Many of our student volunteers serve as mentors to their peers with autism in programs we develop such as our F.I.T. TOGETHER at the YMCA program. <br /><br />10.The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation is a leading advocate on the state and national levels for young adults and adults with Autism. We have been instrumental in advising legislators on the issues and needs facing our citizens with Autism and consulted with its sponsor, Senator Robert Menendez on the Autism Treatment Acceleration Act of 2009 as well as numerous bills in the State of New Jersey. Linda Walder Fiddle serves on the NJ Adults with Autism Task Force and has received numerous public service awards---most recently The Russ Berrie Making A Difference Award and a Jefferson Award Medal, both awarded in 2009.<br /><br /><br /><br />THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROUS SUPPORT AND Please help us continue our work by making a donation from our site!<br /><br />Fri, 17 Jul 2009 21:30:56 ESTDJF Launches F.I.T. TOGETHER at the YMCAhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=314http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=314The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation has launched F.I.T. TOGETHER at the YMCA, a pilot program with the goal of fostering the independence, health, wellness, social and life skills of young adults on the spectrum who will share aerobics and yoga classes plus free swim with neuro-typical peers. The program is being held at the Ridgewood YMCA in collaboration with The Alpine Learning Group for eight weeks beginning June 25- August 20. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation's F.I.T. TOGETHER program, and a similar program being developed by SAARC in Arizona, will be used to create a replicable model for YMCAs and community centers throughout the United States.<br /><br />LOOK FOR STORIES ABOUT THIS EXCITING NEW PROGRAM IN THE SPRING 2010 EDITION OF DJF'S ANNUAL MAGAZINE! Mon, 29 Jun 2009 12:06:20 ESTDr. Ted Carr, Leading Autism Reseacher Killed by Drunk Driverhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=311http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=311Edward G. Carr, 1947-2009<br /><br /> Dr. Edward "Ted" Gary Carr, professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, died 20 June 2009 in an automobile accident. Professor Carr, who was known as “Ted” to friends and colleagues, conducted foundational studies about the functions that self-injurious behaviors served and contributed substantially to the development and refinement of methods known as “positive behavioral supports.” In addition, he assessed the benefits of teaching sign language to children with serious language problems such as Autism.<br />Professor Carr completed a doctoral degree at the University of California San Diego in 1973, worked briefly at the University of California Los Angeles, and then joined the faculty at Stony Brook where, in 2000, he was accorded the honor of an appointment as Leading Professor. During his tenure at Stony Brook he authored or co-authored scores of articles, chapters, monographs, and books, mentored many students, worked with organizations in the US and abroad, and founded and directed the Research & Training Center on Positive Behavior Support for Autism & Developmental Disabilities. His many publications include the books Communication-Based Intervention for Problem Behavior and How to Teach Sign Language to Developmentally Disabled Children.<br />Early in his career, Professor Carr began examining alternative explanations for self-injurious behavior among individuals with Autism, publishing “The Motivation of Self-injurious Behavior: A Review of Some Hypotheses” in the prestigious journal, Psychological Bulletin in 1977. Over the ensuing years he and colleagues increased the understanding of how self-injurious and other problem behavior might operate on the children’s environments, in effect serving a communicative function. He and others used this knowledge to develop and refine the procedures of functional behavior assessment. The work on humane means of reducing problem behaviors led Professor Carr and others to promote the methods of positive behavioral supports. Dr. Carr served on the Professional Advisory Board of the Autism Society of America. His wife, Dr. Ilene Wasserman was also killed in the tragic accident. They are survived by their 20 year old son. <br />Mon, 22 Jun 2009 15:49:33 ESTLinda Walder Fiddle Receives Prestigious Jefferson Award For Public Service http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=302http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=302The Jefferson Award is given annually to honor Americans who perform outstanding public service in their community and inspire others to follow their example. On June 9, 2009, Linda Walder Fiddle,founder and executive director of the all volunteer run Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, was among 26 recipients chosen from over 300 nominations who received the prestigious award at a ceremony at NJ PAC. The Jefferson Award is sponsored in New Jersey, the foundation's home state, by PNC Bank, PSE&G and the Star Ledger, the largest newspaper in the State. Each recipient will be featured in a full page article in the Star Ledger as well as on the website www.nj.com Ms. Walder Fiddle received the Jefferson Award on the heels of receiving another commendation for public service on May 20th when she received a Russ Berrie Award for her exemplary volunteerism. Ms. Walder Fiddle is the only person in the State of New Jersey to receive both awards this year.<br /><br /><b>Star Ledger:</b> <a href="http://www.nj.com/helpinghands/jeffersonawards/index.ssf/2009/12/2009_jefferson_awards_recipien_22.html" target="_blank">2009 Jefferson Award Recipient: Linda Walder Fiddle</a>Sat, 13 Jun 2009 22:22:38 ESTLinda Walder Fiddle Wins Russ Berrie Making A Difference Awardhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=283http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=283New Jersey's unsung heroes distinguished as finalists for Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference<br />Residents to be honored for giving back to their communities<br />Ceremonies to present the 2009 Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference and honor Garden State residents for their unselfish dedication to serving others will take place Wednesday, May 20 at Ramapo College of New Jersey.<br /><br />The top three finalists, chosen by a selection committee comprising eminent New Jersey business leaders and professionals, will receive cash awards of $50,000, $35,000 and $25,000 from the Russell Berrie Foundation. Other finalists will receive grants of $2,500. <br /><br />The awards were created in 1997 by the late Russell Berrie to recognize the unsung heroes who work for the benefit of others.<br /><br />This year's finalists include Imma Ugomma Ayanwu of Maplewood; Marguerite Baber of Bayonne; Terry Carroll of Upper Saddle River; Linda Walder Fiddle of Ridgewood; Jim Gilligan of West Milford; Jane Hanson of Montclair; Mary Hirschman of Ridgefield Park; Veronice Horne of Newark; Yusef Ismail of Newark; Daniela Mendelsohn of Englewood; Eugene McVeigh of Lodi; Angelica Mercado of North Bergen; Bea Napier of Washington Township; Mackenzie Olson of Mantua; Sharon Lee Parker of Hackensack; Loryn Riggiola of Paterson; Barry Rochester of Paterson; Kevin J. Williams of Maywood; and Baye Wilson of Montclair.<br /><br />To view more about this year’s finalists, visit ramapo.edu/news/specialevents/berrieawards/recipients.html.Wed, 20 May 2009 23:17:24 ESTDJF Applauds Congress on Advancing the ATAAhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=279http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=279The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, the only national Autism organization that has the mission to develop and award grants to programs that benefit adolescents and adults with Autism, applauds Congress and the sponsors of the Autism Treatment Acceleration Act, including New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez with whom we consulted on the legislation. The Autism Treatment Acceleration Act aims to meet the comprehensive needs of, and improve the quality of life for, individuals with Autism and their families by: The Autism Treatment Acceleration Act aims to meet the comprehensive needs of, and improve the quality of life for, individuals with autism and their families by:<br /><br />Requiring that insurers provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism including Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy and assistive communication devices;<br />Creating a demonstration project to develop Autism Care Centers. These centers would provide a full array of medical, behavioral, mental health, educational and family care services to individuals and families in a single location. These comprehensive treatment facilities would increase access to quality health care services and communication among health care providers, educator and other providers of services;<br />Creating a demonstration project to provide a full array of services to adults with autism to improve their quality of life and enable them to live as independently as possible;<br />Establishing a voluntary population-based autism case registry to help understand the root causes, rates, and trends of autism;<br />Developing a national multimedia campaign to increase public education and awareness about healthy developmental milestones and autism throughout the lifespan;<br />Establishing an Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee – consisting of representatives from relevant governmental agencies, researchers and the public – to coordinate government activities relating to autism;<br />Establishing a national autism network to strengthen linkages between research and service initiatives at the federal, regional, state and local levels and facilitate the translation of research on autism into services and treatments that will improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and their families;<br /> Creating a national training initiative on autism and a technical assistance center to develop and expand interdisciplinary training and continuing education on autism. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation fully endorses this vital and important legislation and we urge all of our supporters and constituents to contact their Senators and Congressmen to express their support of ATAA.Fri, 15 May 2009 19:33:01 ESTDJF's Stay-At-Home Red Ball Winners Announced!http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=277http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=277DJF's month long celebration of Autism Awareness Month, April 2009, closed with the drawing of our annual DJF Stay-At-Home Red Ball (c) raffle, a signature DJF event (visit http://www.stayathomeredball.com) and the announcement of the three lucky winners of the spectacular grand prizes valued at approximately $1500. each. The winners are as follows:<br />Prize 1: Gail Campbell; Prize 2: Maris Rosenberg; Prize 3: Brian Hehir! We hope that all the lucky winners enjoy their wonderful prizes! Thank you to everyone who participated in our annual stay-at-home event where there is no need for fancy attire or the sitter to hire...and a special thank you to all of the generous sponsors of this event. All proceeds from the DJF Stay-At-Home Red Ball(c) benefit the mission of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation. DJF wishes to gratefully acknowledge the donors of our grand prizes and their incredible support of our mission: La Viano Jewelers, Gilberto Designs, Princess Amanda Borghese, Salon AKS, The Scancarella Family, The Fiddle Family, Vero Uomo and Divi Creative Media. Sun, 03 May 2009 12:37:22 ESTDJF Celebrates April Autism Awareness Month with YOU!http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=256http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=256The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation will kickoff Autism Awareness Month, April 2009 on APRIL 2ND, World Autism Awareness Day, when WHOLE FOODS MARKET in Ridgewood and Edgewater NJ donates 5% of all sales to our mission. Please plan on doing your shopping on April 2nd, and stock up on all you favorite items to benefit programs we develop and support on farmsteads throughout the United States. On APRIL 3RD, The Daniel Jordan Fiddle will co-sponsor a screening and performance from Autism: The Musical at the United Nations for delegates and special guests. Throughout the MONTH OF APRIL, celebrate our efforts on behalf of adolescents and adults with Autism by joining us for our signature event, The Stay-At-Home Red Ball, where there is no need for fancy attire or the sitter to hire...visit our SPECIAL STAY-AT-HOME RED BALL WEBSITE http://wwwstayathomeredball.com to join the fun from your favorite recliner! Finally, celebrate all the achievements we have made together and all the dreams we hope to fulfill by making a donation or purchasing our logo items...visit our Ways to Support section on this website to make an on-line donation. Thank you for your continuous support. AND CHEERS TO ALL THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE WITH AUTISM and THEIR FAMILIES, TEACHERS and FRIENDS!!! Tue, 24 Mar 2009 22:34:25 ESTDJF Featured in Autism Spectrum News', Spring 2009 Issuehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=271http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=271Autism Spectrum News' Spring 2009 issue features story about The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation’s 2009 grantees around the nation. See pdf below.Mon, 20 Apr 2009 14:54:04 ESTDJF Endorses Menendez’s Helping Hands for Autism Act of 2009http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=257http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=257Linda Walder Fiddle, Executive Director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, a national autism organization that develops and provides grants to programs for adolescents and adults with Autism, applauds the leadership of Senator Robert Menendez in targeting the key issues that affect those with Autism and their families NOW, “ Senator Menendez’s, Helping Hands for Autism Act, focuses on three key issues at the top of the list for those with Autism and their families that will have an immediate positive impact on their lives: the need for a coordinated and accessible database of lifelong services and resources; the importance of autism-specific training for first responders that will enhance community participation for those with autism; and the urgent need to address the lack of suitable and sustainable housing options for the growing population of adults.” Fiddle further states,” Senator Menendez has taken the time to listen to the concerns of individuals with Autism and their families and the need to offer those affected by this lifelong challenge a helping hand in attaining the support, resources and opportunities to live as independently as possible in the community. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation fully endorses the Helping Hands for Autism Act, and looks forward to working with Senator Menendez to assure the fulfillment of its goals.” <a href="http://menendez.senate.gov">Visit Senator Robert Menendez’s website</a>.<br /><br />Wed, 25 Mar 2009 09:21:07 ESTLinda Walder Fiddle Featured As A Person to Watch in 2009http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=240http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=240Linda Walder Fiddle, Founder and Executive Director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation is featured in the January, 2009 issue of 201 Magazine as one of “11 People to Watch in 2009” for her work as an activist and philanthropist on behalf of adolescents and adults with Autism.<br /><br />See article below.<br />Mon, 05 Jan 2009 10:26:30 EST“Enlarging Life” A Story Featuring DJF Trustee Jim Scancarellahttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=235http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=235The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation gives autistic adolescents and adults the chance to live productive lives. To print pdf of story click below.Wed, 03 Dec 2008 14:01:58 ESTRead Linda Walder Fiddle’s article in Autism Spectrum Newshttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=227http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=227Read Linda's article "Inspiration Along the Road - Guiding Principle Behind the Meaningful Work of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation" attached below.<br /><br />Autism Spectrum News is a nonprofit quarterly publication that provides readers with a trusted source of news, information and resources on scientific research, evidence based clinical treatment, and family issues that are of vital interest to the autism community. Directed towards a broad audience of families, treatment professionals and service providers, Autism Spectrum News provides free and full readable copies of current and back issues on its website. www.mhnews-autism.org <http://www.mhnews-autism.org> <br />Fri, 07 Nov 2008 14:58:56 ESTN.J. helping those with autism into gainful jobs http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=228http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=228Justin Tropinsky quietly counts "1, 2, 3," as he polishes silverware at the Hackensack Golf Club, rhythmically wiping each piece clean and earning $7.15 an hour for his efforts. <br /><br />Justin Tropinsky, 20 of Tenafly, carries a new batch of silverware to clean while working at the Hackensack Country Club Tuesday. The 20 year old from Tenafly is one of a growing number of adults with autism gearing up to join the workforce. Such involvement is critical, educators and advocates say, because it allows those with autism to continue to learn and grow after age 21, when federal entitlements to school?based education and therapies <br />disappear. <br /><br />As World Autism Awareness Day is observed today, some services are poised to expand for New Jersey adults with the neurological disorder, which impairs communication and has no established cause or cure. On Tuesday, local advocates released a new "how to" guide for businesses seeking to employ adults with autism, produced by the Alpine Learning Group, the innovative private school in Paramus for students with autism. Today, Governor Corzine will announce the members of a new task force for adults with autism. <br /><br />Fast facts <br />* Today is the first?ever World Autism Awareness Day, established by the United Nations. <br />* April is national Autism Awareness Month. <br /><br />Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Roberts, (D)Camden, who sponsored the landmark autism legislation that established the task force and introduced other reforms, visited the Paramus school Tuesday to celebrate the new manual, which advocates called the first of its kind in the nation. "We need to create an environment that is a knowledgeable working environment," he said. "This is really important. This manual will be reassuring to lots of employers." The 22 page guide was funded by a $10,000 grant from the Ridgewood based Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation. "Our organization strongly believes that individuals with autism have the ability and the right to participate in community life, which includes gainful employment," said Linda Walder Fiddle, founder and president of the foundation's board. "If we do not support them through adulthood, individuals regress." <br /><br />Employment rates for adults with developmental disabilities are historically low, with a recent census report finding the rate at 17 percent, said Leslie Long, director of public policy and systems advocacy at New Jersey COSAC, an autism advocacy group based in Trenton. She ventured that rates for individuals on the autism spectrum ?? which ranges from adults who do not speak, to college graduates who merely have trouble following social cues may be even higher, since employers value communication skills and the ability of workers to get along with one another. Many adults with the disability require extra help in the workplace, including hands-on job coaches that are funded by the state. But it makes more financial sense to provide support there rather than in adult day care or other costly social programs, she said, because employing those adults may help close gaps in the labor pool <br />and contribute to income taxes. "When you're talking about one out of 94 babies being born on the spectrum in New Jersey, we as a society <br />are going to have to include them in some contributing way," she said. "I don't know that financially we could afford particularly in New Jersey, with our budget issues to not try to engage people in the workforce." <br /><br />Two Alpine group students who are employee?volunteers at Bergen Community College are a major help to Edward Pittarelli, director of technology. They will soon earn $10 an hour for their work scanning college documents, he said. "They are my best scanners," he said. "They are accurate and dedicated. The work they do is very important to us." For Tropinsky, who dons a maroon uniform shirt for his two hour?long shifts at the golf club in Oradell each week, being included in the workplace is "an unexpected dream come true," said his mother, Madeline, of Tenafly. It has taken a great deal of training and support to achieve that dream. Tropinsky follows an instruction book of pictures prepared by Alpine staff. A school instructor shadows him and wears a timer, awarding him tokens for each 5 minutes of uninterrupted work. The efforts are well worth it, said the club's general manager Norman Forsyth. "He accomplishes a task," he said. "And the staff enjoy having Justin here. They know he's trying as hard as he can, to do the best that he can." <br />Fri, 07 Nov 2008 15:02:16 ESTAssembly takes lead on autism http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=229http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=229A historic package of bills heading for the Legislature would propel New Jersey to the forefront of the autism crisis by adding millions of dollars for research and a slew of services lasting a lifetime. The half?dozen measures, to be introduced in the Assembly as early as next week, would form the state's most cohesive autism policy ever. The legislation comes at a critical time: On Thursday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that New Jersey has the nation's highest autism rate, with 1 in 94 children affected. <br /><br />"I'm like everyone else in New Jersey in that I know so many people who have had family members, particularly children, diagnosed with autism," said Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, (D)Camden, who spearheaded the legislation. "We may be unclear in terms of why we have ranked with the highest documented cases of any state it could be we're doing a better job detecting and reporting but at the very least it's a wake-up call for action." <br />Autism is a neurological condition whose cause is unknown, although both heredity and environmental factors are suspected. It has no cure. <br /><br />People with autism can lack communication, learning and social interaction skills. Some have symptoms so mild that they are not diagnosed until adulthood if ever while others go a lifetime focusing on redundant tasks, unable to speak. The CDC based its findings on 2002 data from 14 states. The overall rate in those states was one in 150 children surpassing the earlier baseline of one in 166. Researchers said they were not certain why the rate appears to be worsening. It is possible that more individuals could be developing autism, but it's also possible that doctors are just better at diagnosing the disorder. <br /><br />About 14,000 New Jerseyans ages 3 to 21 have autism, the study found. Boys here are three to four times more likely than girls to have autism. <br />Roberts said that work on the bills began in early fall, when The Record's "In Autism's Grip" series examined the state's rising rate. In light of the CDC findings last week, he said he intends to introduce some of the bills during an Assembly session Feb. 22. "We want to get them introduced and passed within the next several months," he said. One part of the legislation would add $4 million in research and clinical funding grants under the Governor's Council on Autism. Beyond that, Roberts could not estimate what the legislation could cost ?? or how much taxpayers would have to pay for it. Some of the funds could come from federal grants, but the bulk would have to be added to the state budget. <br /><br />Similar versions of the Assembly proposals have come before the Legislature in the past, never to move beyond committee. Roberts said there is a new urgency this time. "The CDC report really underscored the importance of New Jersey being on this issue," he said. Autism advocates welcomed the proposals, particularly those for adults. "For many years, we've been leaders in early identification. Now we're looking beyond that," said Paul Potito, executive director of the Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community. Linda Walder Fiddle, whose Ridgewood?based Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation funds autism programs, called the legislation "dramatic and positive." "I am pleased that they are recognizing the lifespan issues relating to autism," she said. "It also seems as though there are good educational aspects to these bills, such as emergency training to let the EMS workers know more about autism and more effectively treat individuals in those situations."<br />Fri, 07 Nov 2008 15:09:07 ESTDJF Featured in ASA’s Autism Advocate Magazinehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=207http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=207Six years ago when The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation embarked on its mission to award grants to programs for adolescents and adults with autism, we received very few requests. It may seem shocking that organizations were not flooding us with applications for the funding we offered, but we were not too surprised. First, we were a new organization, and the only one in the United States to focus our grant giving specifically on adolescents and adults with autism; thus, our initiative was unexpected. Second, there were very few programs out there for teens and adults with ASD. However, all this was about to change. <br /><br />See attached pdf for complete article.Tue, 07 Oct 2008 13:31:38 ESTUnique theater program aids those with Asperger's syndromehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=205http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=205Three local non-profits have joined together to create the first theater-arts program in New Jersey — and perhaps the country — specifically designed for adults with Asperger’s syndrome and other forms of autism.<br /><br />More than a dozen people with Asperger’s have begun participating in the eight-week program at the Garage Theater, based at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck. It’s being overseen by the Autism Center of New Jersey Medical School in Newark, with funding from the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation in Ridgewood.<br /><br />The theater program takes advantage of one of Asperger’s key elements — its sufferers’ intense focus on a particular area of interest — to help them overcome its most debilitating symptom: their inability to interact socially with other people.<br /><br />“As kids, they are the little professors,” said B. Madeleine Goldfarb, director of outreach and education for the Autism Center. “Somebody might have an interest in airplanes and they’ll know everything there is to know about airplanes, they could tell you every airplane that was ever made and the year it was made. Yet they will not have the general social ability to play with their peers.”<br /><br />That social awkwardness goes beyond simple shyness, Goldfarb explained. People with Asperger’s often can’t look others in the eye during conversations. They don’t recognize sarcasm or kidding, instead taking other people’s words very literally. They often feel compelled to say what’s on their minds, even when inappropriate.<br /><br />“That inability to relate socially can impair their world to where they cannot hold a job because they cannot socially understand what’s going on around them,” Goldfarb said.<br /><br />Linda Walder Fiddle, president of the Fiddle Foundation, said the idea for a theatre workshop was spurred by a conversation with one person with Asperger’s — the 34-year-old son of Assemblywoman Joan Voss, the Fort Lee Democrat.<br /><br />“Paul is 34 and works and lives on his own, and he was telling me that he loves the theater, but all the programs are for teenagers and really inappropriate for him,” Fiddle said.<br /><br />Fiddle, whose foundation already funds organizations that work with adolescents and adults with autism, contacted Goldfarb and Michael Bias, artistic director of the Garage Theater, to put together the workshop.<br /><br />“When I was a little kid I loved making up stories,” Paul Voss said. “I wanted to be a great story teller.”<br /><br />He took some college courses in theater, but he added, “When I was in my 20s I never took anything seriously.”<br /><br />When he grew older and began learning to cope with his condition, “I made a promise to myself that if I ever get another chance at doing theater or TV or movies, I would not only take it seriously, but I would make sure I don’t fall back.”<br /><br />Goldfarb said the workshop participants will also develop social skills.<br /><br />“You’re working on so many of the skills in the construct of a theater that you see socially,” she said. “You work on how you relate to other people on a stage.”<br /><br />“Over the years I have had kids in my programs who have had Asperger’s,” Bias noted. “They were the first ones to learn their lines, and they got extremely upset with others who weren’t learning them. They tend to see the world in black and white. What I find challenging is getting them to see the grays in life.”<br /><br />Fiddle hopes the workshop will spur people in fields other than theater to create similar opportunities for those affected by the syndrome.<br /><br />“It could be a class in ceramics or a cooking class or something about working with animals. Anything that people are interested in, there will be people with Asperger’s who have that intense interest,” Fiddle said.Thu, 25 Sep 2008 11:25:38 ESTSenator Menendez's Autism Bill Supported by DJFhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=167http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=167Linda Walder Fiddle consulted with Senator Menendez's staff as he developed a new, three-part Bill that will provide federal support for individuals with Autism and their families. The Helping Hands for Autism Bill was introduced by the Senator on Monday, April 28, 2008.<br /> <br /><A href="http://www.northjersey.com/news/Menendez_bill_helps_families_deal_with_autism.html" target="blank">Read full article here:</A><br />Tue, 29 Apr 2008 14:01:42 ESTDJF Grantee Paws Four Autism Appears on CBS Early Showhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=165http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=165DJF 2008 grantee, Paws Four Autism appeared on the CBS Early Show on Wednesday, April 16th featuring Gower and Brittany and dog behaviorist Kathy Santo along with their dogs. The program was developed by DJF and Kathy to provide opportunities for young adults with Autism to train their family dog. The result has been enhanced social, self-help and communication skills for the participants.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/16/earlyshow/health/main4019559.shtml" target="blank">Click here to view video</a>Tue, 22 Apr 2008 17:08:08 ESTSpeaker of NJ Assembly Receives DJF Funded Employment Manualhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=162http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=162In recognition of National Autism Awareness Month, Linda Walder Fiddle presented NJ Assembly Speaker, The Honorable Joseph J. Roberts Jr. the first employement manual for adults with Autism that was created and produced by the Alpine Learning Group with a $10,000 grant from the foundation. Dr. Bridget Taylor and Erin Richard from Alpine Learning Group plan to disseminate this manual to prospective employers, current employers, and schools and vocational programs nationwide. A copy of the manual can also be downloaded from <a href="/grant_docs.cfm">The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation</a> website. <br /><br />To view the article "N.J. helping those with autism into gainful jobs" that appeared in the Bergen Record on Wednesday, April 2, 2008 <a href="http://www.northjersey.com/news/health/17212957.html" target="blank">click here</a>Wed, 02 Apr 2008 10:10:04 ESTWatch DJF Grantee in Autism: The Musical on 3/25 at 8pm on HBOhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=157http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=157DJF 2008 Grantee, The Miracle Project of Vista Del Mar is featured in the upcoming HBO documentary by Tricia Regan that will air on Tuesday, March 25th at 8pm. Autism: The Musical stars Elaine Hall, founder and director of the theater and arts program for children and young adults with Autism and their siblings, and she is featured along with her own son Neal and 4 other children including Wyatt, Henry, Lexi and Adam and their families. Ms. Regan's film creates moving portraits of these individuals, their gifts and their struggles, and how they rise above the challenges in their daily lives to create something extraordinary together. The Miracle Project is developing a theater/art curriculum based upon the one used in the film that can be modeled in other programs throughout the United States. The documentary can also be viewed on the HBO website during the week beginning March 26th.Wed, 19 Mar 2008 12:45:48 ESTLinda Walder Fiddle Testifies Before NJ State Assembly Health Committeehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=152http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=152Package of autism legislation advances Tuesday, February 26, 2008<br /><br />BY ELISE YOUNG STAFF WRITER<br /><br />A legislative committee Monday approved six bills designed to help New Jerseyans with autism, overriding concerns from insurers and even some advocates for the developmentally disabled. <br /><br />The legislation -- including a health-insurance mandate, housing assistance and a school "buddies" initiative -- next will move to the full Assembly for a vote. <br /><br />New Jersey has the country's highest rate of autism, with one in 94 children affected, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, Governor Corzine signed eight pieces of autism-specific legislation, the state's biggest effort yet to address a neurological disorder that has no known cause or cure. <br /><br />Monday's wave of bills before the Assembly Health and Services Committee drew a spillover crowd, many with an interest in compulsory insurance coverage for a therapy called applied behavior analysis, which is among the most promising and expensive treatments. <br /><br />"Costs could be put on the backs of small businesses," said David Smith, a lobbyist for the New Jersey Association of Health Plans. "Others may lose coverage as a result of the cost increase associated with this mandate. ... All we're saying is that when you move a mandate bill forward, there are consequences. There are cost increases." <br /><br />Some committee members said they, too, had reservations. <br /><br />"This is a worthy cause," said Assemblyman Eric Munoz, R-Essex, a trauma surgeon. "The problem is, there are lots of worthy causes in American medicine." <br /><br />But others pointed out that children with autism -- who can have trouble socializing and communicating -- have fewer chances of success if behavior-based therapies are delayed. <br /><br />"To me, children are a priority," said Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, D-Paramus. "We need them to become productive citizens. They deserve it. They deserve to be productive adults." <br /><br />That legislation, and the rest, all were released from committee. <br /><br />One bill, to create a public advocate for autism issues, drew opposition from three representatives of the disabilities community. All said they were reluctant to stand in the way of any laws to serve a needy population, but ultimately they argued that the office would drain resources from the advocacy movement as a whole, putting the needs of people with autism ahead of those with cerebral palsy, mental retarda- tion and other disorders. <br /><br />"You are fragmenting the developmentally disabled community," said Lowell Arye, executive director of the Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities. <br /><br />Elizabeth Shea, a director for The Arc of New Jersey, said the legislation "makes us nervous." She said she believed that the autism office, which would exist within the Department of the Public Advocate, would cut into the staff working on similar issues. <br /><br />But Linda Walder Fiddle of Ridgewood, whose Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation provides grants for autism programs, said the disorder's prevalence in New Jersey dictates swift action. <br /><br />"This is an essential office that needs to be part of what we do in New Jersey -- a one-stop place," she said. <br /><br />The committee approved the measure, but not without warnings from sev- eral lawmakers, who said they would not support it on the Assembly floor unless questions about staffing are resolved. <br /><br />The remainder of the proposed legislation passed with little discussion. <br /><br />The committee passed a bill encouraging the creation of a peers program in Grades 7 through 12, so typical students and those with autism could interact. It approved establishment of a Web site that would detail services available to families and individuals. And it supported the distribution of ID cards, which people with autism could explain to emergency workers why they may act frightened or confused. <br /><br />The legislators also supported an initiative to encourage housing solutions, a growing need as children with autism age and their parents die or are no longer able to care for them. <br /><br />"This is a big step forward to address the long, long waiting list that adult children have," Fiddle said. <br /><br />A legislative committee Monday approved six bills designed to help New Jerseyans with autism, overriding concerns from insurers and even some advocates for the developmentally disabled.<br /><br />The legislation -- including a health-insurance mandate, housing assistance and a school "buddies" initiative -- next will move to the full Assembly for a vote.<br /><br />New Jersey has the country's highest rate of autism, with one in 94 children affected, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, Governor Corzine signed eight pieces of autism-specific legislation, the state's biggest effort yet to address a neurological disorder that has no known cause or cure.<br /><br />Monday's wave of bills before the Assembly Health and Services Committee drew a spillover crowd, many with an interest in compulsory insurance coverage for a therapy called applied behavior analysis, which is among the most promising and expensive treatments.<br /><br />"Costs could be put on the backs of small businesses," said David Smith, a lobbyist for the New Jersey Association of Health Plans. "Others may lose coverage as a result of the cost increase associated with this mandate. ... All we're saying is that when you move a mandate bill forward, there are consequences. There are cost increases."<br /><br />Some committee members said they, too, had reservations.<br /><br />"This is a worthy cause," said Assemblyman Eric Munoz, R-Essex, a trauma surgeon. "The problem is, there are lots of worthy causes in American medicine."<br /><br />But others pointed out that children with autism -- who can have trouble socializing and communicating -- have fewer chances of success if behavior-based therapies are delayed.<br /><br />"To me, children are a priority," said Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, D-Paramus. "We need them to become productive citizens. They deserve it. They deserve to be productive adults."<br /><br />That legislation, and the rest, all were released from committee.<br /><br />One bill, to create a public advocate for autism issues, drew opposition from three representatives of the disabilities community. All said they were reluctant to stand in the way of any laws to serve a needy population, but ultimately they argued that the office would drain resources from the advocacy movement as a whole, putting the needs of people with autism ahead of those with cerebral palsy, mental retarda- tion and other disorders.<br /><br />"You are fragmenting the developmentally disabled community," said Lowell Arye, executive director of the Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities.<br /><br />Elizabeth Shea, a director for The Arc of New Jersey, said the legislation "makes us nervous." She said she believed that the autism office, which would exist within the Department of the Public Advocate, would cut into the staff working on similar issues.<br /><br />But Linda Walder Fiddle of Ridgewood, whose Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation provides grants for autism programs, said the disorder's prevalence in New Jersey dictates swift action.<br /><br />"This is an essential office that needs to be part of what we do in New Jersey -- a one-stop place," she said.<br /><br />The committee approved the measure, but not without warnings from sev- eral lawmakers, who said they would not support it on the Assembly floor unless questions about staffing are resolved.<br /><br />The remainder of the proposed legislation passed with little discussion.<br /><br />The committee passed a bill encouraging the creation of a peers program in Grades 7 through 12, so typical students and those with autism could interact. It approved establishment of a Web site that would detail services available to families and individuals. And it supported the distribution of ID cards, which people with autism could explain to emergency workers why they may act frightened or confused.<br /><br />The legislators also supported an initiative to encourage housing solutions, a growing need as children with autism age and their parents die or are no longer able to care for them.<br /><br />"This is a big step forward to address the long, long waiting list that adult children have," Fiddle said.<br />Wed, 27 Feb 2008 23:18:28 EST" Autism: Another Way of Communicating" a film by Gary Keys features DJF Granteehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=148http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=148"Autism: Another Way of Communicating," a documentary film by Gary Keys features DJF Grantee, Paws 4 Autism a program where teens learn to train and manage their family dog while developing empathy and social skills. Linda Walder Fiddle is an Executive Producer of the film that was shown at the Cannes and Denver Film Festivals. For more information contact Gary Keys Productions at 917-822-3148.<br /><br />Visit the website: <a href="http://scecoll.org/autism/credits.html">http://scecoll.org/autism/credits.html</a>Wed, 06 Feb 2008 20:52:09 ESTLinda Walder Fiddle's Letter to the Editor of the NY Timeshttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=139http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=139Linda Walder Fiddle's Letter to the Editor of the New York Times Sunday Business section disputed the contention that grant makers should only award grants for general operating expenses rather than to specific programs and services. Ms. Walder Fiddle raised the point that such an approach would not honor the intention of donors. <br /><br />Here is the letter that appeared in the NY Times by Linda:<br /><br />Directing the Grants<br /><br />To the Editor:<br /><br />“Can Foundations Take the Long View Again?” (Re:framing, Jan. 6) presented the argument that grant makers should focus on grants for general operating expenses instead of supporting specific programs and services.<br /><br />I couldn’t disagree more. I am a grant maker of a public foundation, and our supporters rightfully expect that their donations are directed to programs that our mission specifies. If we were to provide grants for general expenses, the money could and most likely would be used for purposes outside our grant-giving mission and would not honor the intention of our donors.<br /><br />I also disagree with the idea that project-related grants sacrifice an organization’s ability to focus on strategic work like advocacy. Organizations, if well managed, should be able to devote time to every aspect of their missions without sacrificing one thing for another. The challenge is to support organizations with a demonstrated track record of fiscal and program management that yields accountable and transparent results to donors and society at large.<br /><br />Linda Walder Fiddle<br />Ridgewood, N.J., Jan. 6<br />The writer is executive director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, which provides grants to programs for adolescents and adults with autism.<br /><br /><br />Mon, 14 Jan 2008 18:52:06 ESTA Total of 25 Grants Nationwide Awarded by DJF in '07http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=138http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=138The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation awarded 2 grants in December, 2007 rounding out a total of 25 grants awarded nationwide in 2007 to programs that benefit adolescents and adults with Autism. A $3000 grant was awarded to the Ridgewood YMCA for a program called "Danny's Red Ball Weekend" that takes place at Camp Bernie in Hacketstown, NJ. The family respite weekends include such activities as hiking, horseback riding, arts & crafts and team sports. A grant for $1500 was awarded to Paws 4 Autism so that 10 teenagers or adults with Autism and their dogs can work with renowned dog behaviorist, Kathy Santo. Reported by The Bergen Record, Page B2 on 12/11/07 Non-Profit News.Fri, 14 Dec 2007 08:54:38 ESTDJF salutes Walgreens’ Employment Effortshttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=136http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=136Walgreens builds a new warehouse that accommodates workers with special needs. To view this NBC report on YouTube <a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=B2akb4v2cUQ">click here.</a>Thu, 15 Nov 2007 13:49:10 ESTDog Training Classes Help Autistic Teens Connecthttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=135http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=135Newark Star Ledger<br />UPPER SADDLE RIVER, N.J. — Miami, a 3-year-old pug, sits in front of a small bar, her big saucer eyes showing just a touch of performance anxiety.<br /><br />"Jump," commands her owner, Veronica Alizo, 17. After a slight hesitation, over goes Miami, to the delight of her owner.<br /><br />It's an accomplishment not only for the dog, but for the teenager. Veronica is part of a class of adolescents with autism, who are taught by Kathy Santo, a professional dog trainer. The students, all teenagers with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, are learning how to control their dogs, in turn getting a sense of confidence and strengthening the bonds of affection with their pets.<br /><br />Santo hopes to replicate the program throughout the country.<br /><br />Relating to a pet is especially therapeutic for kids with autism, whose social skills and ability to relate to others are compromised.<br /><br />As the number of children with autism rises — estimated at one in 150 in the United States — programs like Santo's are taking off. They include programs that help children with pets learn to communicate better, as well as more intense efforts such as training service dogs for children with autism.<br /><br />These highly trained service dogs keep kids from wandering from home, help them focus better in school, and interrupt behaviors including self-stimulation, or "stimming," such as flapping arms or spinning.<br /><br />"This is an idea whose time has come," said Patty Dobbs Gross, author of a book about children and assistance dogs and the founder of North Star Foundation in Storrs, Conn., which trains dogs for children with autism.<br /><br />The puppies Gross breeds and trains can cost a family up to $22,000, including breeding, training, shipping the dogs to the families and training the autistic child and his family. Santo's program focuses on the pets the kids already have and teaches the students to train their dogs to follow basic commands, such as "sit" and "stay," as well as performing obedience tasks. It costs approximately $150 for six sessions, which are taught at her home training facility.<br /><br />"It's really touching. At the beginning, some kids didn't know how to cheer their dog on, and at the end of class they were running the dogs through a whole course. Their relations with the dogs have improved," Santo said.<br /><br />At a recent reunion of her first class — former students from the Forum School in Waldwick, N.J. — Veronica and her classmates took their dogs through their paces.<br /><br />Stormy, an 11-year-old border collie owned by Gower Nibley, 16, of Montclair, N.J., barked excitedly as he awaited his turn on the teeter, a seesaw-like apparatus the dog walks up and then down.<br /><br />Gower's mother, Marybeth Nibley, said having a dog has helped Gower's social skills.<br /><br />"It encourages children to speak up, be assertive," she said. Stormy serves as a magnet for people, who approach Gower and start talking when he's out walking the dog, she added.<br /><br />Myriam Alizo, the mother of Veronica and Victoria, 13, said the family's two pugs are her daughters' best friends. "They are very emotionally connected to them," she said.<br /><br />Santo, who writes the "Ask the Dog Shrink" column for House Beautiful magazine and a training and behavior column for an American Kennel Club publication, said she had to learn to work with the teens' shorter attention spans and desire for challenges.<br /><br />Santo started her career training dogs for obedience competitions. After winning a slew of trophies, she said, "that began to feel hollow." She began volunteering at a local shelter in Florida, where she was living, helping to judge the temperament of a dog to make an appropriate match.<br /><br />When she returned to New Jersey, she began teaching obedience classes to the general public. One of her clients was Linda Walder Fiddle, who founded the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation in honor of her son, who was autistic and died at the age of 10.<br /><br />"I asked her if she'd ever thought of teaching children with autism," said Fiddle, whose foundation raises money to fund programs for adolescents and adults with autism, an underserved population. The foundation provided a grant for this first group of teens to take the class.<br /><br />Now Santo and Fiddle are determined to replicate it wherever they can.<br /><br />Besides teaching classes, Santo said she would like to help families with autistic children choose an appropriate dog, as well as teaching other dog trainers how to work with this population.<br /><br />"They teach me as much as I teach them," she said of the kids.<br /><br />* * *<br /><br />For more information about Santo's program, e-mail info(at)pawsfour.org. For information on assistance dogs or to obtain a copy of Dobbs' book, "The Golden Bridge: A Guide to Assistance Dogs for Children Challenged by Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities," visit NorthStarDogs.com. See the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation's Web site for information on its programs for adolescents and adults.<br /><br />(Peggy O'Crowley is a staff writer for The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. She can be contacted at pocrowley(at)starledger.com.)<br />Thu, 15 Nov 2007 13:19:34 ESTNew Jersey gives $4M boost to autism researchhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=113http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=113The Bergen Record<br /><br />Families coping with autism will get more help and support from New Jersey, including a statewide registry of cases, a task force for autistic adults and more support for autistic infants and toddlers. Autism research in New Jersey is also getting a $4 million boost through the extension of a fund that collects $1 from every motor vehicle fine levied in the state. <br /><br />"Finally, they do not have to sit in their home alone," said Linda Walder Fiddle, a Ridgewood resident and the executive director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation. <br /><br />Governor Corzine signed into law six measures Wednesday that target autism and one that addresses Asperger's syndrome -- a neurological disorder similar to autism -- while visiting the Eden Institute in West Windsor, Mercer County.<br /><br />The new laws extend funding for research into a cause and possible treatments, establish an autism registry similar to those used to track other medical conditions such as cancer, and create the Asperger's Syndrome Pilot Initiative to provide more services and education. <br /><br />Another new law provides for better training of teachers. An early intervention program to make screening, education and family support readily available is also being established. <br /><br />A task force designed to help address the needs of autistic adults and their families will be created. The Governor's Council on Autism will also be reorganized. <br /><br />The goal of the new laws, Corzine said, is to give families better help and more options. "We want to make sure that there are choices," he said. <br /><br />Autism advocates are calling the state's effort a major first step. <br /><br />"This is just an incredible day for the state of New Jersey," Fiddle said. "This is the apex of a lot of hard work and effort by the autism community." <br /><br />The foundation Fiddle created and leads provides grants across the country for programs for autistic adults and adolescents. The organization is named after her son, Daniel, who had autism and died accidentally in 2000 at the age of 9. <br /><br />"It's been a long time coming," said Linda Meyer, executive director of the Ewing-based New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community. <br /><br />The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reported this year that one in 94 children has autism in New Jersey and that about one in 150 is afflicted nationwide. <br /><br />Researchers do not know what causes autism, but suspect a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Symptoms of autism can range from barely noticeable to debilitating, and include impaired communication skills, social awkwardness and inappropriate and repetitive behavior. The disorder is often diagnosed by age 3. <br /><br />Although autism has no known cure, intensive and expensive therapies show some promise in lessening and even reversing some of its symptoms. Behavioral, physical, occupational and speech therapies are used to treat the disorder. <br /><br />The symptoms of Asperger's syndrome are often similar to those on the autistic spectrum, but without the cognitive and communication deficits. <br /><br />Assemblywoman Joan Voss, D-Fort Lee, sponsored the measure establishing the pilot program for Asperger's syndrome, a condition from which her son suffers. <br /><br />"This is very, very personal to me," Voss said. "I spent many, many years running around trying to find an answer." <br /><br />The bills signed into law Wednesday first cleared the Assembly in March, with Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, D-Camden, pushing the bipartisan initiative. "We're trying to provide that parent with a lifeline," Roberts said. "There is now a ray of hope." <br /><br />The Senate passed the bills in May.<br /><br /> <br />Tue, 18 Sep 2007 15:51:34 ESTNew Jersey Medical School PULSE magazinehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=126http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=126The NJ Medical School Pulse Magazine talks about the Black and White Ball to raise money and hope for people with Autism.Mon, 24 Sep 2007 11:52:55 ESTLetter to the Editorhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=124http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=124A letter written to the Bergen Record from Linda Walder Fiddle, Executive Director of the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation.Mon, 24 Sep 2007 11:28:59 ESTSenate Panel OK's Autism Legislationhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=114http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=114The Bergen Record<br /><br />TRENTON -- Autism advocates were thrilled Monday when a Senate committee released a package of bills to help thousands of New Jerseyans who have the neurological condition.<br />"This is an historic day in the state of New Jersey," said Linda Walder Fiddle of Ridgewood, executive director of the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, which provides grants to autism organizations. "Finally, we have a starting point to assess the needs of every individual."<br /><br />New Jersey has the highest autism rate in the country, with one in 94 children affected, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded this year after a multiyear study. Researchers don't know what causes autism, although many suspect it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors.<br /><br />Symptoms can range from barely noticeable to nearly completely debilitating, and include impaired communication skills, social awkwardness and inappropriate repetitive behavior. The disorder is often diagnosed by age 3. <br /><br />Although there is no cure, intensive and expensive therapies -- including behavioral, occupational, speech and physical -- show promise in lessening and even seemingly reversing some symptoms. <br /><br />The legislative bills -- designed in response to The Record's award-winning "In Autism's Grip" series last year -- have wide support among both parties in each house of the Legislature. They were unanimously approved Monday by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee; they were approved by the Assembly's counterpart committee in March. <br /><br />The bills considered by Monday initially numbered 10; they were combined with Assembly versions to make five. <br /><br />Fiddle and two advocates testified in favor of a bill to create the Adults with Autism Task Force, which would examine education, housing, job, social and health services for those older than 21, who no longer are guaranteed such guidance by the state and federal governments. <br /><br />"Today in our state we are woefully, woefully under prepared for these numbers of individuals that will be 'aging out' of our system," said Madeleine Goldfarb, the mother of a 13-year-old boy with autism and the outreach coordinator for the Autism Center of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. <br /><br />Other pending autism bills include three related to the Governor's Council on Autism, which grants millions of dollars to in-state researchers. <br /><br />One, to make the council permanent, was approved in Senate health committee Monday; the Assembly approved it in March. <br /><br />A second, to change the makeup of the council and lessen the involvement of UMDNJ, also was approved in the Assembly and is awaiting a vote in the Senate. A third bill, to give the council a $4 million budget infusion -- in addition to its main source of funding, a $1 surcharge on motorists' moving violations -- remains in the Senate health committee. <br /><br />Other legislative committees also are considering a bill to require teacher training, and another to encourage the state Department of Health and Senior Services to study any link between ultrasound and autism. <br />Wed, 19 Sep 2007 16:04:15 ESTAutism bill take lead on policy, fundinghttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=115http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=115The Bergen Record<br /><br /> <br /><br />A historic package of bills heading for the Legislature would propel New Jersey to the forefront of the autism crisis by adding millions of dollars for research and a slew of services lasting a lifetime. <br />The half-dozen measures, to be introduced in the Assembly as early as next week, would form the state's most cohesive autism policy ever. The legislation comes at a critical time: On Thursday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that New Jersey has the nation's highest autism rate, with 1 in 94 children affected.<br /><br />"I'm like everyone else in New Jersey in that I know so many people who have had family members, particularly children, diagnosed with autism," said Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, D-Camden, who spearheaded the legislation. "We may be unclear in terms of why we have ranked with the highest documented cases of any state -- it could be we're doing a better job detecting and reporting -- but at the very least it's a wake-up call for action." <br /><br />Autism is a neurological condition whose cause is unknown, although both heredity and environmental factors are suspected. It has no cure. <br /><br />People with autism can lack communication, learning and social interaction skills. Some have symptoms so mild that they are not diagnosed until adulthood -- if ever -- while others go a lifetime focusing on redundant tasks, unable to speak. <br /><br />The CDC based its findings on 2002 data from 14 states. The overall rate in those states was one in 150 children -- surpassing the earlier baseline of one in 166. <br /><br />Researchers said they were not certain why the rate appears to be worsening. It is possible that more individuals could be developing autism, but it's also possible that doctors are just better at diagnosing the disorder. <br /><br />About 14,000 New Jerseyans ages 3 to 21 have autism, the study found. Boys here are three to four times more likely than girls to have autism.<br /><br />Roberts said that work on the bills began in early fall, when The Record's "In Autism's Grip" series examined the state's rising rate. In light of the CDC findings last week, he said he intends to introduce some of the bills during an Assembly session Feb. 22.<br /><br />"We want to get them introduced and passed within the next several months," he said. <br /><br />One part of the legislation would add $4 million in research and clinical funding grants under the Governor's Council on Autism. Beyond that, Roberts could not estimate what the legislation could cost -- or how much taxpayers would have to pay for it. Some of the funds could come from federal grants, but the bulk would have to be added to the state budget.<br /><br />Similar versions of the Assembly proposals have come before the Legislature in the past, never to move beyond committee. Roberts said there is a new urgency this time. <br /><br />"The CDC report really underscored the importance of New Jersey being on this issue," he said. <br /><br />Autism advocates welcomed the proposals, particularly those for adults. <br /><br />"For many years, we've been leaders in early identification. Now we're looking beyond that," said Paul Potito, executive director of the Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community.<br /><br />Linda Walder Fiddle, whose Ridgewood-based Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation funds autism programs, called the legislation "dramatic and positive." <br /><br />"I am pleased that they are recognizing the lifespan issues relating to autism," she said. "It also seems as though there are good educational aspects to these bills, such as emergency training to let the EMS workers know more about autism and more effectively treat individuals in those situations." Wed, 19 Sep 2007 16:05:13 ESTNew Jersey has highest rate ever documented in U.Shttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=116http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=116The Bergen Record<br /><br /> <br /><br />One in every 94 children in New Jersey has autism -- the highest rate ever documented in the United States. For boys, the rate is one in every 60. <br />New Jersey's rate, based on 2002 data, should "be understood as a public health crisis," said the principal researcher for the study in New Jersey, Walter Zahorodny, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. His work was part of a multistate study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. <br /><br />"The burden of autism is much more than people estimate," he said. <br /><br />Zahorodny traveled to Washington, D.C., on Thursday to brief members of Congress on his part of the report, which provided the first broad look at the prevalence of autism here and in other states. <br /><br />Overall, the rate in 13 other states studied was one in 150 children. While that is higher than the previous estimate of one in 166, it is unclear whether autism is increasing or the studies have simply improved. <br /><br />"We do know, however, that these disorders are affecting too many children," said Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the CDC. <br /><br />Even veterans of the autism world were stunned. "One in 100? Oh my Lord. I'm shocked," said Diane Lento, who helped to found a private school for children with autism a decade ago. Her daughter, Kate, who has autism, is now 15. <br /><br />"It's really frightening," said Barbara Strate of Palisades Park, the mother of an 11-year-old girl with autism and manager of an Internet community for North Jersey families affected by autism. "If I were having children in this day and age, I'd be really scared." <br /><br />The new research raised as many questions as it answered. <br /><br />"We don't know why the rates are higher in New Jersey," said Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, chief of the CDC's developmental disabilities branch. "We need to continue working toward figuring out what's causing the range of autism to answer that question." <br /><br />Autism is a complex disability that affects the brain's development in early childhood, and interferes with a person's ability to communicate, learn and form relationships. Behavior is often focused and repetitive. Symptoms vary in their combination and intensity: Some people with autism have higher-than-average intelligence and appear quirky and socially inept, while others are completely unable to speak, sometimes bite, scratch and hit themselves, and require constant supervision. <br /><br />The studies published on Thursday include the entire spectrum of autism disorders. They were based on a review of health and educational records for 8-year-olds in 2000 and 2002. In New Jersey, the records of nearly 30,000 children -- all the 8-year-olds -- in Hudson, Essex, Union and Ocean counties were culled, yielding 295 children with autism in 2000 and 316 in 2002. These counties are "very likely to be representative of the entire New Jersey-New York metropolitan region," Zahorodny said. <br /><br />The New Jersey Autism Study found a rate of one in 101 in 2000, and one in 94 in 2002 -- a difference that was not statistically significant, he said. The rate for boys went from one in 68 in 2000, to one in 60 two years later, while for girls it went from one in 233 in 2000, to one in 250. <br /><br />A new study, funded by the New Jersey Council on Autism, is to examine the rate in 2006. <br /><br />The high rate of autism in New Jersey was not caused by families moving to the state, Zahorodny said. Researchers checked birth certificates and found that 84 percent of the children with autism were born here, a higher rate than in other states. <br /><br />The higher rate among boys -- found in all states studied -- confirmed previous studies. The difference in the rates among whites, blacks and Hispanics was not significant, Zahorodny said. <br /><br />Among other states, Georgia reported the lowest rates in 2000, with one in 222. Alabama was the lowest in 2002, with one in 300. Zahorodny attributed the comparatively high numbers here to greater public awareness of autism and sensitivity by educators and physicians to the disorder. <br /><br />Suzanne Buchanan, head of clinical services for the New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community (COSAC), said, "New Jersey ... is much more knowledgeable about autism than other states. You're working with professionals in the educational system here who are much more aware of autism than professionals in other states." <br /><br />The study should be an impetus for more research into the causes of autism, said Dr. Joseph Holahan, chief of the child development center at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Paterson. <br /><br />"What used to be considered a very rare condition is actually a very common one," he said. <br /><br />U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., is co-chairman of Congress's Coalition on Autism Research and Education, said: "You can't combat any disease until you start chronicling it. This information, disturbing as it is, is necessary. We need to know the truth." <br /><br />His district includes Brick Township, site of a 1998 CDC investigation to determine whether the incidence of autism was abnormally high. The new studies show that, in fact, there was no cluster of autism in Brick Township. <br /><br />While it was not designed to gauge the effects of childhood immunization on autism, the study shed some light on the issue: Immunization rates in the study states were similar, though autism rates were not, Zahorodny said. Future data may reveal the effect, if any, of removal of mercury from most vaccines in the late 1990s. <br /><br />The study underscores the enormous need for resources, not only for early diagnosis and treatment, but to provide jobs and homes for people with autism as they become adults and grow out of the educational system, educators and researchers said. <br /><br />"I hear these numbers and I think all these children need to be educated," said Dawn Townsend, director of the Institute for Educational Achievement, a private school for children with autism. "Where are we going to do that?" <br /><br />The 8-year-olds counted in this study are now 15. "We need to provide opportunities," so they may participate as fully as possible in jobs and housing and cultural activities, said Linda Walder Fiddle, who started a foundation that funds programs for adolescents and adults with autism. <br /><br />Mary Beth Walsh, whose son, Ben, 8, attends Reed Academy in Garfield, said the results are "a cry for greater funding of services." <br /><br />"There's a tremendous need for more training, for more people to do the interventions that make such a difference in these kids' lives," she said. Ben did not use his vocal cords before he began therapy, but now counts the steps as he climbs them and enjoys telling his mother, "Come on, Mom," she said. <br /><br />Brendan Gilfillan, a spokesman for Governor Corzine, said New Jersey is at the forefront of identifying and treating those with the disorder, and the state's fiscal 2007 budget contains $15 million for special-education programs, including one for autism. "The governor is committed to doing more to address the complex issues associated with autism." he said. <br /><br />The CDC figures may lead to a surge in funding proposals, said Judah Zeigler of Leonia, a member of the Governor's Council on Autism, which distributes millions of dollars for in-state research. <br /><br />"The study shows what the autism community and what researchers have been saying for a long time," he said. <br /><br />Staff Writer Elise Young contributed to this article. E-mail: washburn@northjersey.com <br /><br />* * * Some facts about autism in New Jersey <br /><br />• New Jersey's rate is the highest among 14 states studied. Researchers don't think that necessarily means more children here are born with autism. Rather, there is more awareness, better identification and better record keeping. <br /><br />• More children in New Jersey are categorized as "severely impaired" (classic autism) than "less-impaired" (Asperger's syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified). <br /><br />• The rates were the same among ethnic groups and races. <br /><br />• Boys are three to four times more likely than girls to have autism. <br /><br />• The rates didn't vary much by county, which may mean that specific local environmental factors are not a cause. <br /><br />• Some 14,000 New Jerseyans ages 3 and 21 have autism. <br /><br />• Future state-funded studies will determine the rate for 2006, and analyze the data for correlations with socioeconomic class and maternal and paternal age. <br /><br />• The study is published in the Feb. 9 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, available online at CDC.gov/mmwr. Details on the New Jersey data from the study are available at njcosac.org.Fri, 21 Sep 2007 14:14:04 ESTHelp for the autistichttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=117http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=117The Star Ledger<br /><br /> <br /><br />Your Dec. 15 story about the crisis in adult services in New Jersey is a good first wakeup call, alerting the public to the lack of programs that are fundamental to the needs of adults with autism and their families. The Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community's white paper presents a comprehensive plan for addressing these issues, which affect the entire community, not just those with autism. We cannot afford to throw away the advances made for children with autism through publicly funded education when these children, now one in 166 of all children, reach adulthood. Adults with autism can live, work and contribute to the community with the proper support and opportunities, and as human beings they are entitled to that.<br />I urge Gov. Jon Corzine, state legislators, the Department of Human Services and all citizens to take notice and support the COSAC white paper. Let us not push the snooze button now that the alarm has been sounded.<br /><br />-- Linda Walder Fiddle, Ridgewood<br /><br />The writer is a trustee of the Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community.<br /> <br />Fri, 21 Sep 2007 14:14:39 ESTFunding for autism battle could come in '07 http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=118http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=118Wednesday, December 20, 2006 - The Bergen Record<br /><br /> <br /><br />President Bush on Tuesday signed into law the Combating Autism Act, authorizing a $1 billion effort to wipe out a devastating neurological condition.<br />The law calls for screening every child in America, $643 million for research, tens of millions of dollars more for public education and the presentation of an annual report to Congress. <br /><br />In New Jersey -- where an estimated 12,000 to 18,000 people have the disorder -- the funding could be a boon for researchers and clinicians. <br /><br />"The autism bill will provide additional funding opportunities in New Jersey for those who already study autism, and will hopefully encourage more scientists to enter the field," said James Millonig, a mouse geneticist whose research at Rutgers and the University of Dentistry and Medicine of New Jersey has made him one of the state's top autism experts. "These funds are essential for scientists to do their research, and only through this process will we begin to understand the biological basis of autism so that new therapies can be developed." <br /><br />The one caveat is substantial: The president and Congress must appropriate the money. <br /><br />Bush, in a statement issued after he signed the bill in the Oval Office, indicated he will not let the initiative go unfunded, saying "it will serve as an important foundation for our nation's efforts to find a cure for autism." <br /><br />"For the millions of Americans whose lives are affected by autism, today is a day of hope," the president said. "The Combating Autism Act of 2006 will increase public awareness about this disorder and provide enhanced federal support for autism research and treatment." Rep. Steve Rothman, D-Fair Lawn, said funding could be available by fall 2007. "It was certainly a positive development that the president signed the bill," he said. "It is even more important that he send the Congress a budget request with the federal dollars included that are specifically earmarked for autism education and autism research." <br /><br />Autism is a neurological condition that causes communication and social problems, often manifesting by age 3. Researchers aren't sure whether its roots are genetic, environmental or a combination. In recent years, a growing number of parents have suspected that a mercury-based preservative in childhood vaccinations was a cause. The federal government has said the evidence to support that theory was not conclusive. <br /><br />Last year in New Jersey, the state Department of Education counted 7,400 students with autism. That was a thirtyfold increase over the 1991 figure. Four North Jersey counties combined account for almost a third of the cases: 2,150 in Bergen, Passaic, Morris and Hudson. <br /><br />Right now, the state Governor's Council on Autism -- after several years of budget and administrative problems -- is distributing funds for one round of research grants and evaluating requests for another set of clinical studies. Together, those distributions will total about $10 million -- most of it from $1 surcharges on moving-vehicle violations, and all of it spent in-state. <br /><br />The idea is for New Jersey researchers to build on the state-funded work and enter the running for multimillion-dollar federal grants, such as those available via the Combating Autism Act. Eventually, New Jersey could point to its homegrown scholarship as a reason to operate nationally recognized, government-funded clinics and research labs. <br /><br />North Jersey parents affected by autism praised the bill, saying it was the first to benefit not only patients and their families, but also a public that increasingly must confront the disorder's effects, particularly higher costs for education and social services. <br /><br />"It's a recognition that this disorder affects not only one in 166 individuals, but will be affecting the entire community," said Linda Walder Fiddle, whose Ridgewood foundation funds programs for autistic adults and adolescents. "If we don't try to find the etiology of autism, if we don't support education, then it's going to be a crisis for the entire society. We need to pay now, or pay more later."<br /><br />Diane Lento of Oradell, whose 15-year-old daughter, Kate, has autism, said the president's attention will cause "a wonderful snowball effect." <br /><br />"When Kate was diagnosed at a little over [age] 2, there was so little information, so little resources," Lento said. "Even those in the medical community trained to look at childhood disorders weren't sure what to do. Now, autism is finally getting the attention it so desperately needs. Many more good things are going to come as a result of this."Fri, 21 Sep 2007 14:17:34 ESTBrave New World – Linda Walder Fiddle Lights The Wayhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=127http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=127Ridgewood Magazine talks with Linda Walder Fiddle, Executive Director of the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation about Autism and the challenges she faced with her son Danny.Mon, 24 Sep 2007 11:56:54 ESTGala raises awareness and funds for autism http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=119http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=119NEWARK: On Dec. 2, The Autism Center of New Jersey Medical School will host its Third Annual Dinner/Dance benefit at the Mezzanine, 744 Broad Street, Newark, featuring the Mike Carubia Orchestra. Funds raised during this evening of "glamour and elegance" will support the center's ongoing efforts to advance research, treatment and outreach in the field of autism. <br />According to the U.S. Department of Education, the incidence of autism is on the rise. In the last 10 years, the number of people affected in New Jersey has increased 1,000 percent. <br /><br />"At a time when autism affects approximately one in 165 children, we can't begin to imagine the effect autism will have on our society, both from a financial and ethical perspective," said Jeffrey Gitterman, chair of The Autism Center of New Jersey Medical School's Advisory Board and the parent of an autistic son.<br /><br />"The Autism Center of New Jersey Medical School is driven by sound, innovative science and supported and enhanced by community involvement, particularly the involvement of our dedicated donors," said Charles Cartwright, interim medical director of The Autism Center. "We are encouraged by and indeed indebted to them for their stalwart support for such an important cause".<br /><br />The evening will also feature the recognition of three people whose dedication to the field of autism has played an important role in the growth of The Autism Center:<br /><br />Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who sponsored of the TEACH Act (Teacher Education for Autistic Children Act) and recently established the state Office of Children and Families to focus on New Jersey's most vulnerable population; <br />Barbie Zimmerman-Bier, a developmental pediatrician who is the division director for child development in the Department of Pediatrics at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School and the clinical director of The Autism Center; <br />Linda Walder Fiddle, Esq., executive director and founder of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, which supports programs and services for adolescents and adults with autism; <br />Tickets are $275 per person or $500 per couple, which includes valet parking, cocktail hour, silent and live auction, dinner, dancing and dessert hour. The event begins at 5 p.m. and features a performance by the St. Benedict's Preparatory School Vocal Ensemble.<br /><br />Priceless Events, a full-service event planning company, provided its services for the event gratis.<br /><br />For tickets or information, visit the Autism Center's Web site http://www.umdnj.edu/autismcenter/ or <br />contact Marcy Gitterman at (732) 343-0735 or mgitterman@pricelessevents.org.Fri, 21 Sep 2007 14:19:36 EST'Mostly Music' cheers families of autistichttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=120http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=120Wednesday, November 15, 2006 - The Star Ledger<br /><br /> <br /><br />NEWARK: Families affected by autism are taking advantage of a program offered by The Autism Center of New Jersey Medical School titled "Mostly Music." <br />Supported by a grant from The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation of Ridgewood, this program provides live musical entertainment in a monitored and supportive venue. Parents and adolescents with autism enjoy the music, camaraderie and social opportunity the evening provides.<br /><br />The next "Mostly Music" event will take place on Saturday at 5:45 p.m. at the University Behavioral Health Science Building on the UMDNJ Campus, 183 South Orange Ave.<br /><br />Cuban Jam, a salsa band based in Jersey City, will provide the musical entertainment.<br /><br />"Mostly Music," conceived in 2004 as a way to engage families affected by autism, is part of "Bridging the Gap," an innovative outreach program for adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders and their parents and family members.<br /><br />The program is designed to entertain families with live musical performances, in an atmosphere of friendship and support. Fri, 21 Sep 2007 14:22:11 ESTSpotlight on Linda Walder Fiddle, Esq. COSAC Updatehttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=130http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=130The people from COSAC talk to Linda Walder Fiddle, Executive Director of the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation about her quest to help people with Autism.Mon, 24 Sep 2007 12:00:12 ESTChallenges for adults with autism http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=121http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=121The Bergen Record<br /><br />A bus comes to Jonathan Lam's home in Tenafly every weekday morning and takes him to a private school for autistic children in Rockleigh. His education is paid for by the Tenafly school district. It's an entitlement mandated by law.<br /><br />But four years from now, when Jonathan turns 21, the entitlement goes away. So does more than half of the money the government pays for his care. So does a guaranteed place for Jonathan to go during the day.<br /><br />And if Jonathan's parents don't plan ahead, so does all the progress their son has made over the course of two decades -- the very skills he needs to find his way in the world.<br /><br />"When the bus stops coming, there will be nothing," says Jonathan's mother, Natalie. "It's scary." <br /><br />The public face of autism is young and cute. When most people think of autism, they think of children. But children grow up. They stop being cute. At 21, they stop getting the help they need.<br /><br />"It's like falling off a cliff," says Larry Lam, Jonathan's father.<br /><br />North Jersey suffers from a severe shortage of day programs that cater to the specific needs of autistic adults. The situation is even more desperate for those who need a place to live: There are 8,000 developmentally disabled adults on the waiting list for group homes or supervised apartments. <br /><br />These problems will get worse in the coming years as the first wave of what some experts call the "autism epidemic" reaches adulthood.<br /><br />For many parents, it's a race against time. Geoff Dubrowsky's autistic son is only 11, but he's already worried.<br /><br />"I can't die without knowing that my child is in a safe environment where he knows he'll be protected," Dubrowsky says.<br /><br />People with autism age out of entitlement programs at a time when many are just coming into their own. At 21, many have attained a level of maturity that eases some of the problems they have fitting into their communities. Their expensive education is finally starting to pay off. Many are ready to hold jobs or learn how to live on their own. <br /><br />"How do you tell a parent there's nothing for their child?" asks Leslie Long, director of adult resources for a leading advocacy group, the New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community, or COSAC.<br /><br />"It's a dilemma nobody wants to deal with," she says. "But you have kids aging into a system that's so ill-prepared. Parents will be unemployed because they'll have to stay home with them. It's tragic."<br /><br />Planning is crucial<br /><br />Parents are forced to navigate an often tangled bureaucratic system in order to get on the right waiting lists, secure available money and apply to suitable programs. The problem is, many parents are so overwhelmed caring for a child with endless needs they can't see past the end of the week, let alone plan ahead five or 10 years.<br /><br />The price of a rocky transition to adulthood is high. Experts say autistic adults with nothing to do will regress. Faye Schwartz Grossman watched it happen to her son, Daniel.<br /><br />In 2004, when Daniel Grossman aged out of the Advantage Program, an academic and vocational training school in Ridgefield Park, the Teaneck mother says she was assured that her son would be able to get a job. After all, he'd already worked shelving videos and CDs at the Fort Lee Library and sorting mail at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. <br /><br />But he fell through the cracks when it came to adult programs. Though he can prepare a meal for himself, walk alone to the neighborhood synagogue for evening prayers and converse intelligently about his favorite subject, music, he doesn't know how to make friends. Some of his verbal quirks -- he raises his voice when he's excited and asks the same question again and again -- make him different from other 23-year-olds. <br /><br />He was too smart for the available slots in sheltered workshops, where the work would have bored him, and the other workers -- developmentally disabled adults without autism -- were too noisy for him. On the other hand, he didn't have the social skills to succeed in a job without support. Grossman says the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation offered to have a job coach help her son adapt to a new job -- but the coach would be able to spend only 30 hours total with him.<br /><br />"Daniel would love to work around music," his mother says. "He could conceivably work in the music department at Barnes & Noble. But give him only 30 hours to get used to it and it's not going to fly."<br /><br />So the young man was stuck at home during the day while his mother, who teaches middle school in Maywood, worked.<br /><br />"He was going crazy," says Grossman, a single mother. "It was extremely frustrating."<br /><br />He began having temper tantrums. He clung to his mother when she returned home from work, and to his younger sister, Ahuva.<br /><br />"He became a little bit more physical," his mother says. "He wouldn't do this in public, but, within the family confines, he'd strike out. He'd hit. Which was never, ever an issue before."<br /><br />For two years, Grossman could find nothing for her son.<br /><br />She says she got "a lot of misinformation" from caseworkers -- a common complaint among parents. Only after she contacted COSAC in frustration did Grossman learn her son was entitled to a social worker's assessment to determine what programs would be a good fit. He was also eligible for transportation to and from work and state money for a home health aide to help him get ready in the morning.<br /><br />"There's a gap," Grossman says. "It's a type of discrimination. If my kid can't avail himself of what's out there, you're discriminating against him."<br /><br />With COSAC's help, Grossman found a workshop for her son at the Daughters of Miriam Center, a nursing home in Clifton. This month, he started assembling folders for doctors' offices.<br /><br />Grossman noticed an immediate change in her son.<br /><br />"The difference just the first day -- he came back a totally different person," she says. "He said to me, 'I did it. I went.' There was a sense of accomplishment." <br /><br />One day, she hopes to find an even better job for her son.<br /><br />New state efforts<br /><br />There are many cases like Daniel Grossman's throughout the state -- capable but idle graduates of solid special-education programs who create a needless strain on their families, says Linda Walder Fiddle, whose Ridgewood-based Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation funds programs for autistic adults.<br /><br />"Look at it from a financial viewpoint," Fiddle says. "It costs a tremendous amount for special education -- and we need to make that investment. If we drop the ball when these people become adults, they won't contribute to society and we're creating a burden. They're capable of contributing, and it's not just the high-functioning individuals. We're talking about individuals who have very little language and not exceptional skills who can go from being tax burdens to taxpayers."<br /><br />State officials say they're working to make the transition to adulthood less onerous. The Division of Developmental Disabilities started a program called Real Life Choices, which allots families up to $28,000 a year to spend on programs they choose for their adult autistic children. The division also has begun setting up informational meetings for families with children expected to age out of the educational system in coming years, says Carol Grant, acting chief of staff of the Department of Human Services and the former director of the disabilities division. <br /><br />"It's been a priority of ours since 2002 to ensure the transition is as seamless as we can make it," Grant says. "We need the resources to do that."<br /><br />Part of the problem is a lack of money. Running an adult day program -- which offers a range of programs, including job training, life-skills instruction (like managing money and cooking) and baby-sitting -- is a money-losing proposition. While school districts spend up to $78,000 a year per special-education student, the state gives adult programs between $13,000 and $28,000 per client a year. COSAC estimates that adult programs need $30,000 to $60,000 a year per client. Most programs get by only with the help of grants and parent fund-raisers. <br /><br />Typically, if parents are savvy enough to apply -- and have been careful to keep financial assets out of their child's name -- an autistic man or woman begins receiving supplemental Social Security income at age 18. At age 21, a mix of federal Medicaid money and state funds doled out by the Division of Developmental Disabilities is available for programs that replace school. Adults with higher skill levels can get help finding jobs through the state Department of Labor's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.<br /><br />Going it alone<br /><br />More troubling than the lack of money is the difficulty parents have finding appropriate services. Six years ago, when Jim and Jennifer Hoppe began searching for an adult program for their daughter, Jaimie, they were so disheartened they decided to start one of their own.<br /><br />If anyone could make a go of it, they figured, it was Jim. After all, he was chief financial officer for Citigroup. The Wyckoff father quit his job in 2000, enlisted 11 other families from the Alpine Learning Group, Jaimie's school in Paramus, and organized the Quest Autism Foundation.<br /><br />The Hoppes signed a sweetheart deal with the Wyckoff YMCA. If they established a pilot project, one that could be duplicated at other YMCAs, Quest could rent 1,700 square feet of space for $1 a year for 40 years.<br /><br />The result is the Quest Autism Foundation Adult Day Program, which opened in June 2005 with Jaimie and one other participant. This summer, two more young adults joined. All four have jobs sorting mail, setting tables, collecting recyclables and bagging groceries.<br /><br />"People with autism have the same life span as typical people," Jenn Hoppe says. "You can't wait for someone to provide it for you. Sometimes you have to be a pioneer."<br /><br />But the expense can be daunting. With just four participants, the Quest program costs $300,000 a year, Jim Hoppe says. They get $100,000 through state grants and tuition. That leaves a $200,000 gap that must be filled by fund raising, like a dinner dance scheduled for October.<br /><br />"It's a lot easier to raise money for a cute child than it is for an adult," Jim Hoppe acknowledges. <br /><br />"We compete against the Cancer Society and other charities like that," he says. "When people hear we help four families, we're not on the radar screen."<br /><br />Nowhere to live<br /><br />Finding a place for autistic adults to live is even more difficult.<br /><br />Jeffrey Douma's parents want him to live on his own like the adult he is. They also want the peace of mind that will come with his future being settled. <br /><br />"More terrifying than what happens after graduation is what happens to him when we're gone," says Cathy Douma, his mother.<br /><br />Jeffrey works part-time cleaning offices in Morristown as part of a program called The Daily Plan It. He's a handsome man who plays the piano, but whose verbal skills are childlike. He'll ask his parents or his 19-year-old sister, Erica, bizarre questions over and over, such as "Air Bud or Air Buddy?" -- referring to the children's movies. When he's bothered by noise, he plugs his ears with his thumbs. Sometimes, he hits his mother.<br /><br />Every once in a while, he approaches a stranger in, say, the supermarket, and touches her. He's gentle, his mother says, but still. She has to explain it to the startled stranger. <br /><br />Cathy Douma wants to find her son a place where he is safe and happy.<br /><br />The good news: Because she just turned 55 and her husband is 59, their son qualifies for the priority waiting list for a group home because he has older parents. <br /><br />The bad news: 7,912 others are ahead of him. It could be eight years before he moves out. That means she and her husband could be 63 and 67 before they are relieved of the day-to-day stress of caring for an autistic son -- a job they've already held day and night since he was born 22 years ago.<br /><br />"It's sort of like, I did my job," the Morris Township mother says. "We're ready to go to the next phase. You feel like you put in your time, but you can't stop. You have this responsibility."<br /><br />The housing crisis is only going to get worse. Beginning in 2010, the swelling number of children diagnosed with autism will begin aging out of school. So far, the state hasn't allocated any money to pay for more group homes or supervised apartments.<br /><br />For Robin Sims, the best option for her 23-year-old daughter is the Hunterdon Developmental Center, a place often dismissed as an "institution."<br /><br />New Jersey has seven developmental centers -- large residential and vocational facilities for people with all kinds of developmental disabilities. Together, they house about 3,000 people, most of whom have nowhere else to go. Just about everyone in the disabled community lobbies for them to be shut down. Even the U.S. Supreme Court, in its 1999 Olmstead ruling, called for moving people into "community settings" and out of places like Hunterdon.<br /><br />Sims, however, says Hunterdon saved her family. <br /><br />"I got lucky," she says.<br /><br />Heather was a frustrated, stubborn teenager. For some reason -- Sims isn't sure why, because her daughter can't speak -- Heather didn't like her school. In April 1997, when she was 14, Heather took it out on her family. She broke every window of their home in Bloomfield and pounded holes in the walls. Sims has a video showing the bloody cuts those tantrums left on her daughter's wrists.<br /><br />"One day we couldn't take it anymore and we called 911," Sims says.<br /><br />Hunterdon is currently admitting new residents on an emergency basis only. Most emergency admissions, like Heather's, are court-ordered.<br /><br />The center, set on rolling hills in Clinton, has been Heather Sims' home for nine years. It is where she and 600 disabled people live, work and play. She has a tightly structured schedule. She holds a paying job on site packaging Sleep-Snugs -- plastic clips that hold bed sheets in place -- that are sold at Bed, Bath & Beyond. She swims in the indoor pool, bicycles, Rollerblades, takes trips to the beach and, Sims says, has a young man interested in her, though she's done nothing to encourage him.<br /><br />Sims says her daughter respects the Hunterdon staff and doesn't let her frustration bubble over into violence nearly as often as she did at home.<br /><br />"The environment is predictable and dependable, so she does well," Sims says. "She's been happy and healthy and functioning. She knows she won't always get her way. With me, she'd destroy herself. It's amazing that she's happy."<br /><br />Sims is well aware of the stigma attached to what she calls state institutions. A caseworker once accused her of trying to get rid of her daughter. But when Sims could no longer control her and she became a danger to herself and others, what alternative was there?<br /><br />"Every parent wants to quit the [I-have-an-autistic-child] club, and you get to a certain point and you realize you're not quitting the club," she says. "So you realize there's a point where your desires end and hers begin. It's not what I want for her, it's what she wants for herself."Fri, 21 Sep 2007 14:23:35 EST201 Magazine (The Best of Bergen)http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=132http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=132The 201 Magazine recognizes the Best Bergen County Autism Advocates.Mon, 24 Sep 2007 13:34:03 ESTCreating Opportunities for Adolescents and Adults http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=122http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=122With a warm smile, Linda Fiddle recalls the woman who approached her at an adult day care center in New Jersey a while ago, and gave her a big hug.<br /><br />“Thank you so much,” the woman told her. “I love coming here.” The director of the day care center then added the most poignant note: “She’d have no place to go if she didn’t come here.”<br /><br />The woman, about 50 years old, has suffered from a neurological condition called autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) since childhood. ASD can vary widely in its symptoms and severity, but it generally affects social, behavioral and cognitive functioning. And the woman, with her parents gone, had few places to turn for help and social interaction.<br /><br />For its part, the Broadway Adult Medical Day Care Center in Fair Lawn had successfully turned for grants to The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, a grant-giving organization for adolescents and adults with the disorder. The group was founded by Linda and her husband, Fred Fiddle, a managing director at Merrill Lynch, in memory of their son, Daniel, who had ASD.<br /><br />As Merrill Lynch this month unveils its United Way campaign, the Fiddles point out that employees of the firm have for the past several years had the option of earmarking their United Way donations to the foundation, and have often done so.<br /><br />“We’re extremely grateful for the generosity everyone at Merrill Lynch has exhibited in selecting The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation for contributions through United Way,” Mr. Fiddle said. “And we very much hope the support continues and grows so we can continue enhancing the lives of adolescents and adults diagnosed with ASD.”<br /><br />Founded in January 2000, the foundation includes three senior Merrill Lynch executives on its board: managing directors Steven Ball, Amy Ellis-Simon and Dan Cummings. <br /><br />The three executives are not only leaders of the organization, but also longtime friends of the Fiddles. It was Ball whose sons gave Daniel a giant red ball for his ninth birthday. The ball became his favorite toy, and is today the organization’s symbol for reaching new heights to create fuller lives for this under-served group.<br /><br />Based in Ridgewood, New Jersey, the foundation is focused not on youngsters with ASD, but on their later years, beginning with adolescence and continuing through the lifespan of individuals affected by the disorder.<br /><br />With the diagnosis of autism increasing to as much as 1 in 150 individuals, there is clearly more of a need for organizations that serve this growing group, said Mrs. Fiddle, who is the foundation’s executive director. Individuals with ASD live a normal lifespan, but there continues to be a paucity of groups to serve them beyond their years as youngsters, she said.<br /><br />“There are many programs for youngsters with autism, and they’re all very important,” she said. “But programs to assist adolescents and adults with ASD are few and far between.”<br /><br />So the foundation has awarded some 30 grants to large and small groups across the United States over the past four years, with the funds helping several hundred adolescents and adults. The grants focus on vocational, recreational, educational and residential needs of adolescents and adults, as well as their families.<br /><br />The programs that have received foundation grants include the Princeton Child Development Institute in New Jersey, which helps identify employment opportunities for adults with autism; the New England Center for Children, which used the funds to establish a student council for its residential facility outside Boston; Heart Song, which provides music and art therapy in New York; Danny’s Red Ball Weekend at Ridgewood YMCA Camp Bernie, which provides a camping program in New Jersey for young people 13 and over with autism; and Fountain House in New York City, which dedicated a wildlife habitat built with the help of autistic boy scouts with the funds.<br /><br />Mr. Fiddle, who has been with Merrill Lynch for nearly two decades, says much of the group’s work can be directly attributed to its link to United Way. <br /><br />“United Way has given us a great deal of credibility and the opportunity to reach out to many more groups and organizations that help people with autism,” he said.<br /><br />His wife points out that a mother of a teenager with autism asked her a while ago why she continues her work with the foundation since she no longer has the full-time challenge of dealing with a child with the disorder. <br /><br />“When I thought about it later, I realized that Danny is and will always be with me, inspiring me to encourage and create opportunities for individuals with autism to live the fullest lives possible,” she said. “And there is so much work to be done, so like my days with Danny, I will keep going.” <br /><br />(This article was written for The 2005 United Way Campaign. If you would like to make a donation to The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation through the United Way, please use our code #042576)Fri, 21 Sep 2007 14:25:42 ESTShopping Day Benefits Foundationhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=134http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=134The Ridgewood News<br /><br />The sun was shining at the beautiful outdoor garden at Ridgewood’s home accessory and gift shop, Mango Jam, on Saturday, June 1st, as Gina and Tony Damiana, store owners, hosted an elegant afternoon of shopping to celebrate the joys of summer entertaining with 20 percent going to The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation of Ridgewood, New Jersey.<br /><br />The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation was established in January, 2000 as a continuing legacy for Daniel Fiddle, who had Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and has a mission o provide grants supporting programs for adolescents and adults with ASD.<br /><br />We are so grateful to Mango Jam for their generosity and recognition of the need to enhance the lives of individuals with ASD throughout their lifetimes, said Linda W. Fiddle, executive director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, and we hope that today’s shopping extravaganza enriches the understanding of the community about the need to create opportunities for those with ASD.”Mon, 24 Sep 2007 13:37:06 ESTAutistic child’s memory lives on in wildlife trailhttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=123http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=123The Bergen Record<br /><br />Daniel Fiddle’s family envisioned him running along a path, chasing a dog, and looking for signs of wildlife Sunday afternoon on the newly - created Wildlife Habitat Trail at High Point Farm. But the Ridgewood boy, who was autistic, was there in spirit only, having suffered an accidental death in January 2000, when he was 9 years old. His memory lives on with the trail, however, which was dedicated to him Sunday, under a clear sky, in Montague.<br /><br />“I always dreamed Danny would live and work in a place like this, and he would have just loved this,” said Linda Fiddle, Daniel’s mother. “Maybe this will help open the way for a lot more opportunities for adolescents and adults living with autistic spectrum disorders.” <br /><br />The trail was created through the combined efforts of a Boy Scout troop, a foundation in Daniel’s memory, and the Foundation House, a non-profit organization that owns the property and runs programs there for the mentally disabled. The trail spans two miles and includes benches, four viewing sites, and a picnic area. <br /><br />Stephen Kovalchick of Clifton, who knew a friend of Daniel’s through scouting, thought of the idea while looking for a project to earn his Eagle Scout award. He worked with about 15 other troop members for two weekends last fall, locating spots for viewing sites, clearing brush, building benches, and laying down wood chips.<br /><br />“I really wanted to get back to the outdoors for my project – I was just hoping the areas weren’t going to rebel like in other spots,” Kovalchick said. “But there was minimal vegetation, and the trail actually came out better than I thought.” <br /><br /> A good portion of the funding for the trail - $7,500 out of $10,500 – came from The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, which was established in Daniel’s memory to fund programs benefiting adolescents and adults with autistic spectrum disorders, or ASD.<br /><br /> Although the Fountain House does not generally work with neurologically disabled people, such as those with ASD, Fiddle thought the interaction between the members and scouts was a fitting tribute to her son. <br /> “I saw while Danny was growing up that there were many programs for very young children…but as they got older, there really weren’t many things for them,” Fiddle said. “Having people from the Fountain House work with people who are not mentally disabled is very important, and I’m hoping more programs will be started like this one.” <br /><br /> The Fountain House, located in Manhattan, has 1,300 members, all with psychiatric disorders. The organization owns High Point Farm, part of a 477 – acre park on the border of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. It provided the remainder of the funding. <br /><br /> Members stay at the farm for a week at a time, helping to care for the livestock, tend the garden, package farm-grown vegetables and fruits, and cook and serve their own meals. A number of them helped build the nature trail. <br /><br /> “It’s a way for our members to back into working, to being productive, to get back to their lives,” said Susan Sena, assistant director of Fountain House. “It’s also just nice for them to get out of the city.” <br /><br /> The farm and trail are not open to the public except for a few days in the spring and fall. Dates will be posted on the Fountain House web site: www.fountainhouse.org. <br /><br /> “This is such a good place. I worked to put the wood chips in and helped clear the trees,” said Keith Winchel, a Fountain House member. “It’s beautiful. I’m kind of shy so I like being out in nature, and feel very comfortable here.”<br />Fri, 21 Sep 2007 14:26:22 ESTA PATH TO HEALING - Scouts blaze a trail and combat autism stigmahttp://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=133http://www.djfiddlefoundation.org/news/index.cfm?fc=article&id=133Like many Boy Scout projects. clearing woods to make a trail is one way to move up in rank and earn a badge.<br /><br />But this wasn’t a typical Scout outing. <br /><br />While they earned their Eagle Scout badges, the Scouts, one of whom is affected with autism, worked to­gether to “fight the stigma of mental illness.” <br /><br />Two weekends last October was all 20 Boy Scouts needed to complete the first official trail at High Point Palm In Montague. <br /><br />Combating the stigma and having a positive impact on a lot of people’s lives is what this is about, not complet­ing a trail,” said Charlie Saggese, a social worker for Foun­tain House, a nonprofit psychiatric rehabilitation facility, and program coordinator at the farm. Two weeks ago, the trail was dedicated to Daniel Fiddle, who had ASD (autistic spectrum disorder), a neurological disorder that affects communicative and social functioning. <br />Daniel died in 2000 at age 9. Before the Scouts took on the challenge of creating the two-mile trail, they often camped on the 477-acre farm and spent long weekends planting trees. Boy Scout Stephen Kovalcik, 17, took full charge of the project, and led the team in clearing the woods and mark­ing the site for wildlife observation. The Scouts marked the trails, posted signs, made benches and tagged species of trees. The project was a new challenge for many of the Scouts, and all of them worked well as a team, Stephen said, especially by the autistic Scout. He was just as much help as everyone else there, and he gave it his all,” Stephen said Stephen was not concerned about the troop taking on a project that required working with chain saws, grass cutters and other dangerous tools. <br /><br />“The confidence I had in my troop never wavered, and they did it knowing it was for a very important cause,” he added. There are about six miles of paths at the farm, none of which have ever been sectioned off and dedicated as an official trail until now. The trail, which borders High Point State Park and the Delaware Water Gap National Recitation Area runs along wetlands where habitats of wild turkeys and rookeries of blue heron can he seen. It also leads to a grove of sugar maples for future harvesting of maple syrup. ­“They did a great thing for us, but the greater thing is that they took the opportunity to face a challenge that they succeeded in,” Saggese said. Some struggle with mental challenges, and that is something that many fear because people are afraid of what they don’t know. But when they participate in activities like this, we all see a side that helps us, as people, un­derstand each other better,” he added.<br /><br />The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation provided a $7,500 grant to Fountain House that enabled the Scouts to work on the Wildlife Habitat Project at the farm. The project really showed that adolescents affected with ASD can be a part of a meaningful opportunity be­cause it was a personal goal for each of them”, said Dan­iel’s mother, Linda Fiddle, executive director of the Fiddle Foundation. “They went beyond their own capabilities. They were exposed to situations in the wilderness and interacted with people in a way that they wouldn’t have ever experi­enced if this wasn’t available to them.” The Fiddle Foundation was established in 2000 as a continuing legacy of Daniel, who loved the outdoors and considered nature to be his “freedom,” Fiddle said. The foundation gives grants to programs that can pro­vide recreational, vocational, educational and residential opportunities to adolescents and adults affected by ASD.<br /><br />“If Danny were here he’d be racing down the trail with the Boy Scouts and having the time of his life,” Fiddle said. <br /><br />Tanya Drobness works in the Sussex County bureau. <br />She can be reached at (973) 383-0516 or at tdrobness@starledger.com.Mon, 24 Sep 2007 13:35:54 EST