Newark's Center for Autism joins North Ward Center to expand services for people with autism

April 3, 2018


The new Center for Autism boasts a fully furnished apartment to teach pre-vocational and activities of daily living skills, along with a sensory integration room, kitchen and lounge.


Newark, NJ—North Ward Center CEO and Center for Autism founder Michele Adubato was once asked whether she had anyone with autism in her family.

Adubato's response was immediate.

“I said, ‘Yeah, about 400,’” Adubato said.

It is this love and unwavering dedication that has helped bring about the merging of two organizations that have been serving the Newark community for years.

Coinciding with Autism Awareness Month, the grand reopening of the Center for Autism brought out community members, friends and supporters on Tuesday, the culmination of a 20-year vision that has been the driving force behind the recreation of the Center, the first of its kind in New Jersey.

“This place has been in my head for 20 years,” Adubato told a standing-room only crowd at the new, state-of-the-art facility in Newark’s North and West wards. “I chose the colors, I chose it down to the pillows, down to the pictures. The idea of what we wanted has never been seen before. Today is a celebration of bringing two wonderful organizations together.”

A special education educator for years, Adubato founded the Center for Autism in 2010, a nonprofit organization that provides day services and opportunities for adults with autism and their families and said the move to its new facility will expand services to the center’s more than 100 clients.

“That didn’t happen because I wanted to open it, it happened because I needed to,” she said, noting a lack of resources for people with autism over the age of 21. “The only way to change it was to begin it.”

Founded by Stephen Adubato in 1970, the North Ward Center has served as an anchor to the neighborhood and surrounding communities and offers a variety of social and educational services and programs.

The merger of the Center for Autism and the North Ward Center will serve to increase services to the surrounding community, according to Adubato.

“Our Newark community is notoriously underserved, with little to no service options in the city,” Adubato said. “The move for the Center for Autism will not only increase service choices for people with autism and their families-- it was designed for our community. It is important to respect the differences and learning styles that our children and adults with autism face every day.”

The facility, located on Roseville Avenue, boasts a fully furnished apartment to facilitate hands-on learning of daily living skills and activities, along with a sensory integration room, reading and exercise rooms, a fully-equipped kitchen and lounge--all designed to facilitate learning and growth.

Services linked to pre-vocational and employability skills as well as respite opportunities will also be expanded.

“This will allow us to provide services to the people with autism across the spectrum,” Adubato said. “Our goal to maximize our client’s fullest potential, and to bring our community together, in a safe non-judgmental environment. With our new facility and the partnership with the North Ward Center, the possibilities are limitless.”

North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr., praised Adubato for her advocacy, also noting the "First Lady of the North Ward, Fran Adubato," wife of Stephen Adubato.

“We stand united here on this auspicious occasion,” Ramos said at the reopening ceremony. “This is a great day for the City of Newark. This is a true blessing for the City of Newark that today we have the rebirth of the Center for Autism.”

West Ward Councilman Joseph MCCallum, Jr., noted the Center’s role in the resurgence of the West Ward.

“This is the day after Autism Awareness Day, so this is very fitting,” he said. “We get to show people the other part of the West Ward. People have no idea this is part of the West Ward. This is a wonderful day for the City of Newark and for the West Ward.”

Adubato expressed excitement at the expanded services the Center for Autism will now be able to offer individuals and their families.

"I started this journey about 25 years ago," she said to the assembled crowd. "Children and their stories had a story to tell. As of tomorrow, this will be their new home. This is my honor that I give this to you because you deserve it."

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