Mayor’s Column

April is National Autism Awareness Month and April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day.  Autism is a complex mental developmental condition, characterized by difficulties in the way a person communicates and interacts with others. Autism can be present from birth or form during early childhood and has no single known cause.

Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person on the spectrum has a distinct set of strengths and challenges.  The ways in which they learn, think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged.  Some on the autism spectrum may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently.  The Autism Society recognizes that the prevalence of autism in the United States has risen from 1 in 125 children in 2010 to 1 in 59 in 2020.  Most current statistics suggest that one in 54 children has autism in the United States.

While no two people on the spectrum have the same set of symptoms, common characteristics include impaired social skills or problems interacting with others. Some children on the spectrum do not have adequate playing or speaking skills. Those on one end of the spectrum may exhibit clumsy behavior, being out of sync with those around them and use inappropriate or offensive language. At the other end of the spectrum a person may not be interested in interacting with others.

Those on the spectrum may find it harder to show empathy to others, although they can be taught to acknowledge others feelings. In some cases, they do not like physical contact such as hugs, tickling or physical play. Those on the spectrum often display repetitive behavior in performing the same action many times over. Any change to their behavior or routine can be unsettling. Other characteristics of autism include an unpredictable learning rate, obsessions and physical tics.

2022 National Autism Awareness Month is designed to build a better awareness of the signs, symptoms and realities of autism. It focuses on providing information and resources for communities to be more aware of autism, promote acceptance and be more inclusive in everyday life. A better-informed public will be more empathetic and supportive toward those on the spectrum.


SPEAK (Special Needs Parents, Educators and Kids) of Voorhees is the parent-faculty association for families andchildren with special needs in the Voorhees Township Public School District. Founded in March 2009, SPEAK addresses issues impacting special needs children living in our community by providing support, encouragement and important information and education for families and others who may be involved in the care of a special needs child. For more information about SPEAK of Voorhees, including teaching resources, fundraisers and sponsorship information, visit For more information on National Autism Awareness Month, visit

* Voorhees Township created a new commission called the Voorhees Art Commission to provide space for local artists to express their creativity and share their gifts with the community. The Gallery is reopening this Spring and our art community is encouraged to advocate and assist in developing and hosting the Gallery’s events to display and sell art. For more information, contact Marianne Leone at

**The 14th Annual 5K Run/Walk 4 Family & Friends with Cancer will be on Sunday, April 24 at Voorhees Middle School beginning at 8am. The event benefits The Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania and the Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFCS) Financial Assistance for Cancer Patients Program. I have been honored to be part of this event every year since its inception and invite you to join me this year for a wonderful cause. For more information, visit  

***Voorhees Township Economic Development Committee (EDC) is hosting its FREE Annual Small Business Forum on Tuesday, May 3 at 6:30-8pm in the Township Courtroom. Light refreshments will be served. Featured guest speaker is Bill Green, a new owner of the historic Stafford Farm and author of several books. Among other small business support services will be representatives from the Chamber of Commerce of Southern NJ, Rutgers Camden Small Business Development Center, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. For more information, call Office of Economic Development (856)882-5211.

**** The Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation is excited to return to ‘in-person’ events! In celebration of 20 years of caring, ARVF has a great line up for this celebratory year, beginning with: 

April 28, 2022 – Wine, Food & Craft Beer Tasting
June 20, 2022 – 2nd Annual ARVF Golf Outing
October 21, 2022 – 20th Anniversary Emerald Ball. 

For more information, visit Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation