Hoboken Rocks for Autism Awareness; Plus, Tootsie Tales from Candy Lands
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Hoboken rocked for autism awareness Saturday afternoon inside the Rue Building gymnasium.
Local community action partnership Hopes sponsored a party for families as part of National Autism Awareness Month. Parents and kids filled the Rue gymnasium to eat food, play games and hear music from Hoboken based, kid friendly rock band The Fuzzy Lemons. New York Jets defensive lineman Mike DeVito also attended and posed for photos with guests.
The party served as a joint fundraiser for Hopes and the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT), a national collective of health professionals and parents of autistic children who seek to vet information on treatments.
The Melting Pot, Dino & Harry's, Right Angle, Bellie & Katrina, Lepore's Chocolates and William Howard Home are just a few of the local businesses that donated items for either a raffle or a silent auction. Thanks to DeVito, the Jets donated a football signed by the entire team.
ASAT maintained a table stocked with pamphlets. Parents of newly diagnosed autistic children often search frantically for information on how they can best help their kids. However, while technology has made information accessible and transferable, parents can also encounter gross inaccuracies. They might even fall prey to charlatans who promise remedies that don't actually work.
“Our mission is to promote access to effective treatment,” said Marianne Clancy, an ASAT board member and the parent of an autistic child.
Larry Hannon, the father of an autistic daughter, drove his family from Maine to attend the Hoboken event. He learned of ASAT through its president, Dr. David Celiberti, who has helped treat Hannon's daughter.
Hannon discussed his daughter's condition with About Town. “It was devastating,” he said upon learning of her diagnosis at age 2. “We didn't think there was any hope.”
But, through early intervention and by following a process called Applied Behavioral Analysis, which takes a patient and methodical approach towards helping autistic children with their development, Hannon said his daughter has shown significant improvement. She is now 8, loves school and is learning to do things the way any child would.
Hannon said he too looked desperately for information, and found many of it suspect.
“They make it sound so believable,” he said of those who promise over-optimistic or easy treatments. “Parents are being misled.”
But Hannon offered a strong endorsement for ASAT as a trusted source.
“Parents need to know about this organization,” he said.
The Candy Man can 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good
Sunday afternoon the Hoboken Historical Museum sponsored another lecture as part of its running exhibit on the history of candy in Hoboken.
Dr. Samira Kawash, who blogs on her website Candy Professor, shared with audience members the overall history of candy in America, which is of particular interest to Hoboken as so many factories here contributed to that industry, most notably the old Tootsie Roll plant uptown on Willow Avenue.
“It's amazing to see the role that Hoboken has played in the 20th century in the making of candy in America,” Dr. Kawash said. “Without Hoboken we wouldn't have all these wonderful things to eat.”
Dr. Kawash detailed the history of the American candy industry, which according to her began in the mid 19th century as pharmacists looked for ways to make medicine palatable. When the public found it liked the sweet taste of lozenges for example, entrepreneurs realized they found a moneymaker.
Thanks to mechanical innovation, candy invention and production exploded at the turn of the 20th century, and many popular brands that started then, such as Hershey's, Wrigley's and Tootsie Rolls are still successful today. Candy bars in particular became a mainstream product during the 1920's as solidiers who snacked on them during World War I returned home with a sweet-tooth.
Candy popularity dipped during and after World War II, as sugar rationing at home curtailed supply, and the 1960s counterculture saw a backlash against processed foods, but it currently enjoys a stable market. Whereas Americans on average consumed less than five pounds per year in 1900, that figure today stands at 27 pounds. Annual retail sales for the candy industry reach an estimated $29 billion.
Though Hoboken no longer produces candy, the Museum has done an excellent job of collecting relics for its exhibit. Seeing the display is definitely worth a visit, and should be fun for the whole family.
Alan Skontra was a big dork who never went anywhere. Then he started writing the About Town column for Patch, and now he's everywhere. Have a hot tip on an event in Hoboken? Send an invitation, questions and comments too, to email@example.com. And if he gets enough followers he might actually post his first tweet @ twitter.com/alanskontra.