Glen Ridge Woman Spreads Awareness of Pediatric Hydrocephalus

BY  |  Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Pediatric Hydrocephalus Glen Ridge resident Colette Umar seems like a typical twenty year old. She hangs out with friends, attends school and even has a plan for after graduation. “I’ve always wanted to work with children and I’ve always liked school. I plan to study early childhood education and then work with little kids.” A stark difference between Colette and most of her peers, though, is that she has undergone fifteen brain surgeries to help control the excess cerebral spinal fluid collecting around her brain. Colette has hydrocephalus.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, it’s estimated that one to two out of every thousand babies is born with hydrocephalus. In infants, this condition can cause symptoms like: an unusually large head, vomiting, irritability and seizures. It’s often congenital, though it can develop at any age for a variety of reasons. The most common causes of hydrocephalus include: spina bifida, a tumor on the spinal cord or brain, certain infections and traumatic brain injuries. It can lead to neurologic issues and even death if not treated.

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Your Guide to Apple Picking in New Jersey

BY  |  Wednesday, Sep 03, 2014 1:30pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

apple picking in new jersey

I’m having a difficult time saying goodbye to summer this year, but the start of apple picking season makes me feel better. Nothing is more comforting than a warm apple pie. And when that pie is made with apples your family has picked, it tastes even better.

You can pick your own at one of these New Jersey farms (including one in New York) and do much more than get apples. These farms offer hayrides, corn mazes, activities and shops that have melt in your mouth treats. Here are some tips from Pick Your Own, a website with all the information you need to play farmer:

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Girl AGain: Using American Girl Dolls to Prove Yes She Can

BY  |  Tuesday, Aug 12, 2014 12:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)


Marjorie Madfis, my daughters, and a staff member in training.

Sometimes a parent can take their personal experience with their child and turn it into something wonderful and much bigger.

Marjorie Madfis, a mother of a teenage girl with autism, has turned her daughter’s deep interest in American Girl dolls into a wonderful job skills training opportunity for her daughter and other young women as they transition from high school to adulthood. Marjorie formed Yes She Can Inc. a non-profit organization dedicated to developing transferable job skills and workplace social skills through authentic work experience for young women with autism spectrum disorders.

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NJ Dare Devils: Montclair Eighth Grader Wins Junior Coach of the Year

BY  |  Tuesday, May 27, 2014 11:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

NJ Dare Devils

Jacob Levy accepting award

Wouldn’t you agree that hockey is a physically demanding sport? It requires speed, skill, agility and lots of coordination. It’s not necessarily the first sport that comes to mind when considering an activity for children with special needs. Well, leave it to a mother of a child with special needs to turn ‘common wisdom,’ on its head.

In 2002, the NJ Dare Devils was created by a mom searching for a physical activity for her child with autism. According to their website, “… the New Jersey Dare Devils provide opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to participate in the sport of ice hockey in a specially-adapted learning environment. The Dare Devils are comprised of over 50 developmentally disabled players (ages 5-adult) across a wide range of abilities — from advanced to learn-to-skate — who participate in a brand of the sport known as ‘Special Hockey.’”

Every Saturday, between September and April, players come together on the ice to practice, learn new skills and get cheered on at the Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange. There are approximately ten games each season and players can also take part in hockey tournaments, both at home and away. Clearly, a major key to keeping this league successful and fun is the coaching staff.

The league has ten adult coaches and around sixty junior/student coaches who volunteer to teach the players the game. And Barista Kids recently learned that Montclair’s own, Glenfield Middle School eighth grader Jacob Levy, just won Junior Coach of the Year. Congratulations Jacob!

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Montclair SEPAC Meeting — Strategies for Success

BY  |  Thursday, May 15, 2014 1:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

montclair SEPACMontclair SEPAC is the Montclair Special Education Parent Advisory Council, which is a volunteer group of parents and guardians that provides support and information to parents and caregivers of children with special needs. Each district board of education is charged under the New Jersey Special Education Code to ensure that a special education parent advisory group is in place to provide input to the district on issues concerning students with disabilities.

Montclair SEPAC meets monthly to share information and ideas, raise and resolve concerns, and ensure that issues affecting children with special needs are given the attention they deserve.

This month SEPAC invites the Montclair community to join a panel of incredibly knowledgeable and dynamic veteran Montclair School District parents and their adult children with special needs who will share strategies for success.

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Inclusion Works Foundation Announces its Kick-off Celebration at Kidville of Montclair

BY  |  Friday, May 09, 2014 3:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Inclusion Works Foundation

On Saturday, May 10, Inclusion Works Foundation will host its historical Kick-off Celebration at Kidville of Montclair.

The event is free and will include family fun, open play spaces for young children of all abilities, inclusive workshops and information for all. The foundation kick-off will serve as a resource for anyone seeking to identify welcoming environments, supportive services, adaptive learning techniques and family fun.

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Tony Award Winner Laura Benanti Headlines May 1 Benefit for Autism at Montclair State

BY  |  Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 12:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Laura Benanti Tony award winner Laura Benanti will headline Montclair State’s third annual concert to benefit Autism New Jersey, set to take place in the University’s Memorial Auditorium on Thursday, May 1 from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. The event will also star comic Sunda Croonquist, 11-year-old musical prodigy Jodi DiPiazza, stage performer Gia McGlone, and students from Montclair State’s Musical Theater program. Tickets are available on eventbrite for $15. Montclair state alumni and students can purchase tickets for $10  at the door.

Hosting the show will be students from both of the Montclair State and Fairleigh Dickinson Public Relations Student Society of America chapters.

The money raised from the evening will help Autism New Jersey provide education and support for teachers and other professionals responsible for educating and caring for children and adults with autism.

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Breaking Boundaries: A Progressive Program for Students with Special Needs

BY  |  Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Breaking BoundariesDoes your child have trouble making friends? Maybe they sit alone at lunch or rarely get together with other kids their age.  If you are concerned that your child doesn’t seem to fit in, Breaking Boundaries could be the perfect ‘fit’ you have been hoping for.

Breaking Boundaries is a progressive program that offers kids and young adults who have special needs opportunities to be social – without their parents. Co-Director Seth Blender, a special education teacher at Glen Ridge Public Schools, explains, “The activities help to foster independence because parents are not there. The kids need to learn how to adapt on their own.”  Past activities have included trips to MetLife Stadium, Tourne Park and King’s Cooking Studio.

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Let’s Play Ball: Baseball Program For Children With Disabilities

BY  |  Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 2:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

baseballThe Montclair Baseball and Softball Club is offering a recreational baseball program for children with physical and intellectual disabilities beginning in May.

The program is open to boys and girls ages 5 – 15. Sessions will be held on Saturday mornings from 9 am – 10:30 am. For more information, email Steve Singer.





April is Autism Awareness Month and Locals are Participating

BY  |  Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

The seventh annual World Autism Awareness Day is on April 2, and autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events. It’s the kickoff of a month long effort to raise awareness about a disorder which affects millions of individuals and families with a series of events and initiatives.

According to the Autism Society, “Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.” Today 1 in 88 U.S. children has autism. The numbers are higher in New Jersey, with 1 in 49 children in New Jersey, according to Autism

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