The House of Charity – Bishop’s Annual Appeal and VITALity Catholic Healthcare Services of the Diocese of Camden presented a $50,000 grant to Saint John of God Community Services to help children with autism and their families.

The funds will be used for the implementation of the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) for autism training.

ESDM is described as a developmental program.

“It is relationship based and family focused. It’s based on the science of learning, is interdisciplinary, and is used in multiple environments throughout the day,” Saint John of God said in a statement.

“Primary goals of the curriculum are to bring the child back into the social loop, fill in the learning gaps, and teach the building blocks of social life (imitation, emotional communication, sharing experiences, and social and symbolic play language),” the statement said.

The program reportedly has been effective for children with autism spectrum disorder across a wide range of learning styles and abilities.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.

In randomized clinical trials with children as young as 18 months, ESDM was shown to benefit children with significant learning challenges as much as children without learning challenges.

Deacon Gerald J. Jablonowski, executive director of Diocesan Home and Parish Healthcare Services, presented the grant to Brother Thomas Osorio of Saint John of God on Aug. 18.

“Saint John of God again demonstrates their commitment to expand and constantly find new ways to provide the optimum care for our most precious resources — our children,” he said.

“Through VITALity, the diocese is also committed to assist those families who struggle through the daily sacrifices of giving of themselves for the life and wellbeing of their child with autism,” he said.

“This grant support of ESDM is just another way to strengthen our alignment with that common mission shared by Bishop Dennis Sullivan and the Diocese of Camden along with the Saint John of God Community Services to provide the best care possible for all our children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families who support and love them,” he said.




A.J. Long and Jason McMullen unpack boxes at Saint John of God Community Services in Westville Grove, as they are greeted by Brother Thomas Osorio, Superior, and Deacon Gerald J. Jablonowski, executive director of Diocesan Home and Parish Healthcare Services. Saint John of God is a nonprofit, non-sectarian agency providing educational, therapeutic and vocational programs for people with disabilities, community childcare, inclusive preschool, and grant-funded job services for people with barriers to employment.
Photo by James A. McBride



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