Coming Together to Support Individuals with Autism in April

By Vin Gopal

April is Autism Awareness Month and we ask all LD11 residents to be mindful of how they can help make our communities be more inclusive for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

My LD11 legislative partners, Assemblywoman Margie Donlon and Assemblywoman Luanne Peterpaul, and I are hosting “Autism Awareness Month Sensory Day” at iPlay America in Freehold on April 10. The event, which filled to capacity quickly, is free for families and iPlay America will have lowered music and arcade game volumes, limited special lighting, and designated quiet rooms to ensure every guest feels comfortable throughout the evening. 

We have made great strides in raising awareness and building acceptance, but we still have a lot of work to do. Unfortunately, there are still incidents in New Jersey and across the country of individuals with autism being bullied, put in dangerous situations and made to feel unwelcome in their schools and communities.

We are fortunate to have nonprofit partners such as MOCEANS Center for Independent Living in Long Branch and Brave Beginnings Inc. in Tinton Falls help provide services and skills that enable people with autism to participate in community life. (MOCEANS assists individuals with a range of disabilities in addition to autism.)

Community acceptance is critical. 

Our communities can play a vital role in the well-being and quality of life for individuals with autism by creating inclusive spaces and providing opportunities for meaningful engagement. By hiring individuals with ASD, including them in sports, school clubs, and social activities, we help individuals with autism develop their skills, build relationships, and become active participants in their communities.

We know community support and vocational intervention programs work. Nearly 60 percent of people with autism in America are employed after receiving vocational rehabilitation services, according to the US Department of Education and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, 74 percent of autistic students in the US graduate with a diploma, compared to 86 percent of all students.

You can find information about resources for individuals with autism on the NJ Department of Health website, Or, consider becoming an Autism NJ “Autism Awareness Ambassador'' to learn how to advocate, educate, and promote awareness and acceptance through events and outreach activities in your community. Ambassadors advocate, educate, and promote awareness and acceptance through various events and outreach activities across the state. To learn more about becoming an “Autism Awareness Ambassador,” visit

Together, we can break barriers and create more inclusive communities where individuals with autism can thrive.

Meanwhile, April also is Financial Literacy Month and we want LD11 residents to know about an important free resource for their financial wellbeing from the NJ Department of Treasury. We remind LD11 residents that the deadline for filing state and federal taxes is this upcoming Monday, April 15th. Additionally, the LD11 Office hosts our Savings for Our Seniors Program, where we connect residents above the age of 65 with potential savings and programs they may be eligible for.

The treasury department has partnered with Enrich, a financial literacy expertise platform. By signing up at NJFinLit.Enrich.Org, you’ll get free access to articles, videos, courses, and tools that are customized for your situation. The site offers a full range of content to help empower you to reach your goals no matter where you are on your financial journey. So, whether it’s saving for retirement, figuring out how to afford college, or building a solid nest egg for your family, you’ll find useful information at