Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that tragically has become increasingly more common during the last 30 years. It is characterized by pervasive difficulties beginning in early childhood across behavioral and social communication levels. ASD is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder and although health and education services for children with ASD are relatively well established, service provision for adults with ASD is still in its infancy.
Team 94 is a non-profit organization created in 2017 by businessmen Jim Ortenzio and Victor Muro of Integrated Financial Concepts, an office of the National Life Group. The connection to the number 94 goes back to Michael John Sabato, who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at a young age. He graduated in 2017 from West Essex High School and had been part of the football program, proudly wearing number 94.
After much research, Team 94 has discovered that there is a crisis for adults with autism. When the children reach 21, their parents suddenly find themselves scrambling to find a program for their young adult, because on their 22nd birthday, people with autism lose their entitlement and services and enter the much chancier, less funded world. The state funding provided only covers about 25% of the expenses in a program. This leaves parents with the need to find programs with openings that are geared towards adults, which is no easy task.
Team 94 needs to make a difference by providing these adults with the ability to continue their journey of learning and independence. They are determined to create a program that will allow young adults with autism to learn daily life, job and community participation skills. In short, Team 94 intends to build hope – one life at a time!
As a major fundraiser, a one mile ‘Color, Fun, Run’ will be held on Sunday, April 7th at 10:30 am, beginning at North Caldwell Borough Hall, 141 Gould Avenue. Please contact Team 94 to learn more about their mission at: [email protected] or visit their donation page at www.team94donations.org. Please register for this worthy cause by March 15.