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First and Only Program Designed to Educate Businesses About Autism and Provide Tools to Support Positive Community Interactions

Friday, February 5, 2010 Lifestyle News J E 4
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- Children's Specialized Hospital and Kohl's Department Stores Collaborate to Launch This New Comprehensive Autism Awareness Campaign -

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Children's Specialized Hospital, New Jersey's preeminent provider of pediatric rehabilitation services and the largest comprehensive children's rehabilitation system in the country, has created and launched Make Friends with Autism.  This brand new multilevel program is the first of its kind anywhere in the country.  Make Friends with Autism is designed to educate our business partners and communities about autism and provide the tools necessary to support positive community partnerships.  This program is made possible by the Kohl's KidsAbilities program at Children's Specialized Hospital through the generosity of the Kohl's Cares for Kids® program.  

To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, please click: http://multivu.prnewswire.com/mnr/childrensspecializedhospital/42005/

The announcement was made today at PSE&G Children's Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick by Amy B. Mansue, president and CEO, Children's Specialized Hospital; Lew Ferrero, district manager, Kohl's Department Stores and Jim Watkins, news anchor, WPIX News.

The current estimate of children in the United States with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is approximately 1 in 100(i).  As the number continues to grow, more individuals with autism are seeking community inclusion and health care providers are encouraging families and patients to make community connections.  Make Friends with Autism offers a bi-lingual (English-Spanish) multi-media approach that provides significant resources for businesses, recreation providers and families with children who have autism.

"With an increasing number of families impacted by autism, it's important for these families to feel accepted in their own communities," said Amy B. Mansue, president and CEO, Children's Specialized Hospital.  "Children's Specialized Hospital recognizes the importance for all people to participate in community activities, including people with autism and their families.  We hope with Make Friends with Autism, we can help make a positive progression in the acceptance of these individuals."  

Autism is a neurobiological disorder characterized by difficulty in communication, socialization, and repetitive or restricted interests and behaviors.  Approximately 1.5 million people in the United States are living with autism.  With a website, documentary and downloadable resources and materials, Make Friends with Autism seeks to:

  • Provide useful information to help people understand Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Help families with children who have autism prepare for safe and successful community outings
  • Promote positive relationships between individuals with autism and businesses, recreation providers and the community
  • Reduce the level of anxiety a parent or caregiver might experience when engaging in everyday activities with a person with autism
  • Dispel fears and misconceptions associated with autism

The Make Friends with Autism webpage provides a centralized location to access information about autism.  The resources consist of bilingual (English/Spanish) multimedia materials, available for free download at www.makefriendswithautism.org.  The initiative features an original documentary, which was created in collaboration with Emmy® award-winning producer Mary Olive Smith.  Print materials are also available for business owners, operators and recreation providers that emphasize providing services that embrace every individual, supportive material for parents and caregivers that can assist in the teaching and learning process of addressing the needs of those with ASD, and general information about autism.  

"As a parent of a child with autism, my family has unfortunately experienced seclusion from community activities and businesses because of a simple lack of education," said Adrienne Robertiello, autism educator, Children's Specialized Hospital.  "This program provides important tools to help break down the barriers that prevent many people from living the full life to which all are entitled."  

Kohl's Department Stores has partnered with Children's Specialized Hospital to bring meaningful programs like Kohl's Kids Abilities.  The Kohl's sponsored programs focus on raising community awareness, as well as provide families a free, fun day and the opportunity to learn more about caring for children with special needs through carnivals held each spring.  Since 2000, New Jersey Kohl's stores have donated more than three million dollars to Children's Specialized Hospital through the Kohl's Cares for Kids® program, through which 100 percent of the net profit from the sale of books and plush toys benefit children's health and education initiatives nationwide.  Additionally, Kohl's A-Teams have volunteered a total of 330 hours in 2009 at various events and activities for Children's Specialized Hospital.  

Children's Specialized Hospital is the preeminent provider of rehabilitation services for children with special needs. The hospital serves children affected by brain injury, spinal cord injury, premature birth, autism, developmental delays, and life-changing illnesses. Children's Specialized Hospital has seven sites in New Jersey and treats 17,000 children each year, making it the largest pediatric rehabilitation system of its kind in the nation. Services include outpatient services, acute rehabilitation, and long-term care through its sites in Mountainside, Toms River, Fanwood, Hamilton, New Brunswick and Roselle Park as well as outreach programs in many communities. 

Children's Specialized Hospital Foundation supports the programs and services of the hospital. The Foundation is ranked among the top six pediatric hospital foundations in the country. To help, or find more information, visit www.childrens-specialized.org.

Kohl's Department Stores

Based in Menomonee Falls, Wis., Kohl's (NYSE: KSS) is a family-focused, value-oriented specialty department store offering moderately priced, exclusive and national brand apparel, shoes, accessories, beauty and home products in an exciting shopping environment. Kohl's operates 1,059 stores in 49 states. A company committed to the communities it serves, Kohl's has raised more than $126 million for children's initiatives nationwide through its Kohl's Cares for Kids(R) philanthropic program, which operates under Kohl's Cares, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kohl's Department Stores, Inc. For a list of store locations and information, or for the added convenience of shopping online, visit www.kohls.com

(i) Health Resources and Service Administration, "Prevalence of Parent-Reported Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children in US, 2007," Pediatrics 5 Oct. 2009.

SOURCE Children's Specialized Hospital

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