Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation

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The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation (DJF) is a national, all-volunteer-run, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that focuses exclusively on adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The DJF mission is to develop, advocate for and support programs through grant awards that enrich the lives of adolescents and adults with autism. ASD affects each individual in a different manner but is generally characterized by impairments in social interactions and communication skills. In some people, ASD also affects cognitive, emotional and behavioral functioning.

The guiding principle of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation is to honor the individuality of each person with ASD so that each may participate throughout their lifetime in vocational, recreational, educational and residential opportunities that are suitable, stimulating and sustainable and allow for maximum integration in the community.

Quality of life issues, including health and wellness throughout the lifespan, awareness about co-morbid health conditions and the development of positive support systems for adults on the spectrum are an integral part of the DJF mission.

For instance, statistics show that as many as 30% of people with autism also have epilepsy, so DJF developed an informational brochure featuring tips for recognizing various types of seizures and suggested first-aid techniques entitled, 'Autism, Epilepsy & Seizures: How To Recognize The Signs and Basic First Aid When You Do.' It contains general information about autism and epilepsy as well as about the co-condition of the two. It outlines the different types of seizures that might occur and offers basic first aid tips as recommended by the Epilepsy Foundation of America. It is a collaborative effort among DJF, The Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey, Autism Family Services of New Jersey, and Dr. Ruth Nass, Professor of Child Neurology and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and a nationally recognized pediatric behavioral neurologist.

Based in Ridgewood, New Jersey, DJF since 2002 as the first autism organization in the nation has had the exclusive focus is on the adolescent and adult autistic community. It was founded by Linda J. Walder, and named after her late son Danny who had ASD. Autism affects 1 in 110 individuals each year according the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation has been a primary national catalyst in bringing the needs of adults with ASD to public awareness since 2002. The foundation was instrumental in supporting New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez’ re-introduction of The Helping HANDS for Autism Act of 2009, a three-part legislative package that includes a program to guide families seeking services and care, increased awareness among first responders, and housing for adults with ASD. New Jersey has the highest rate of autism in the United States.

DJF has shared its findings and problem-solving ideas about adult issues with organizations that previously only focused on children or medical/diagnostic research. The foundation takes a unique hands-on approach towards awarding grants, often reaching out to service providers and then helping them develop the programs it funds. “Awarding the grant is only part of our story,” explains Walder Fiddle. “DJF is committed to identifying and filling the gaps in services for adults with ASD. Our ideas inspire the majority of the projects we fund and often ignite the entire process.”

In 2014, The DJF blazed new trails in the world of adult autism by establishing " The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Adult Autism Research Fund" at Yale University Medical School (http://childstudycenter.yale.edu) the first Fund to focus on much needed research relating to adults living with autism. "The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Transition and Adult Programs" was established at University of Miami's Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (http://www.umcard.org/adults-asd/) as an international center for the development and dissemination of model programs and resources that serve adults on the autism spectrum. Both endeavors are funded in perpetuity to assure a focus on adults that will endure to serve the autism community for generations to come.

For 2010, DJF has developed a new level of program development and funding, known as The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Signature Grant Programs. This represents an exciting direction in the foundation’s commitment to developing and awarding grants to exemplary and replicable programs that address critical needs and gaps in services and supports for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). In 2010, DJF will launch coast-to-coast collaborations with organizations that its Board of Trustees and Advisors believe to be among the premiere providers of programming for adolescents and adults with ASD in the U.S.

Each DJF Signature Grant Program will address specific needs that the foundation has determined are best suited to successful development and implementation. Several of the 2010 programs are new and innovative projects to the world of ASD, and the foundation aspires for them to open up new opportunities for adults with this challenge. Other 2010 programs represent core grassroots initiatives that DJF has previously developed and supported and that they will help expand to serve more people, also with the goal of replication in other communities. DJF's focus and expertise in developing programs for adolescents and adults with ASD has led them to the realization that replicable programs take time to develop and refine, so each of the DJF Signature Grant Programs have the foundation’s commitment of ongoing future support contingent upon an annual review by the Board of Trustees.

The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation relies upon the guidance of individuals with autism to assist them in program development. To that end, the foundation created a Self-Advocate Advisory Board composed of individuals on the spectrum in order to make a clear statement about how much their insights are valued, respected and needed. DJF’s self-advocates are helping to shape their own futures by guiding the foundation in developing and supporting programs that enhance their lives. Current members of the Self-Advocate Advisory Board include: Amy Gravino, Paul Voss and Stephen Daly.

It is the guiding principle of DJF is that it is an attainable goal for each individual with autism to reach their fullest potential.

Organization Founder/Executive Director[edit]

Linda J. Walder is the Founder and Executive Director of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation (DJF), a 501(c)(3) national autism organization with the mission to develop, advocate for and award grants to programs that enhance the lives of adolescents and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), including residential, recreational, vocational, educational and family programs. DJF is a leading national advocacy and awareness organization that focuses on issues affecting the lives of adults with ASD including health and wellness.

The guiding principle of the foundation is to provide suitable and sustainable opportunities for adults with ASD to participate in and contribute to community life. This is the goal Linda had for her own son Danny for whom The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation is named. DJF is run completely by volunteers and has pioneered the development and advancement of programs for autistic adults nationwide since 2002.

Linda has received numerous public service awards for her accomplishments on behalf of the autism community. In 2009 alone she received a Russ Berrie Award for Making a Difference, the Jefferson Award for Public Service, Autism Family Services of NJ’s Community Service Award, and a public service award from the New Jersey Coalition of Inclusive Ministries. Linda also received Redbook magazine’s 2009 “Strength & Spirit” Award, one of only five women in the U.S. to receive this special honor. She was featured, along with her co-honorees, in Redbook’s December 2009 issue, for her inspirational leadership in opening doors for adults with ASD. In 2014, Linda J. Walder was one of five women in the United States to receive Template:Traditional Home magazine's "Classic Women Award" for her continuous commitment to volunteerism and serving the autism community.

In addition to Linda’s efforts directing the foundation, she was a member of the New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force. She is a prominent advocate on the state and national levels and works closely with legislators on issues that affect adults with ASD. Ms. Walder is a frequent contributor to autism publications including Autism Spectrum News and Autism Advocate. She has served as a member of the Advisory Boards of the Autism Center of New Jersey Medical School, Bergen County Community College Autism Center and Autism Family Services of New Jersey and the national board of directors of the Autism Society of America Template:Autism Society. She is member of the Steering Committee of Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism, a national collaborative effort of autism organizations focusing on adult issues. She is also an Advisory Board member of First Place Template:First Place which is a model for the future of adult autism residential, employment and public policy.

Linda J. Walder dedicates herself not only to those with autism but also to humanitarian projects around the world, from New Orleans to Cambodia. In 2009 she helped open two schools outside of Phnom Penh with a group that included her 16-year-old daughter Ava. She also has served on The Board of Trustees of The Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey and is currently serving as a Commissioner on The New Jersey Commission on National and Community Service.

External links[edit]

  • The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation [1]
  • Epilepsy Foundation [2]
  • Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey [3]
  • Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism [4]
  • Autism Spectrum News [5]
  • Autism Society [6]
  • University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey [7]
  • Bergen Community College Autism Initiative [8]
  • Autism Family Services of New Jersey [9]
  • Centers for Disease Control (Autism)[10]
  • Ruth D Nass M.D.[11]
  • State of New Jersey - Adults with Autism Task Force [12]
  • Jewish Helping Hands [13]
  • Barnert Temple [14]
  • Sen. Menendez reintroduces legislation to support families dealing with Autism [15]
  • Redbook's 2009 Strength & Spirit Awards [16]

Articles generated by grantees in their local newspapers[edit]

  • Carolina Farms - [17]
  • Arts Unbound - [18]
  • Mandy’s Special Farm - [19]
  • The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Over-60 Peer Support Group Program at GRASP - [20]
  • DJF Redball Weekends - [21]
  • Documentary: "The Asperger's Difference: For and About Young People with Asperger's Syndrome" - [22]
  • Autism and Faith - [23]
  • Triform Camphill Community - [24]
  • Kelly Autism Program - [25]
  • Hudson Valley Autism Resource Center – Just For Teens - [26]
  • Kean University Grant - [27]

Links to 2010 program organizations[edit]

  • Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP) - [28]
  • Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) – [29]
  • Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services – [30]
  • New England Center for Children (NECC) – [31]
  • Chapel Haven – [32]
  • Jewish Association for Developmental Disabilities (J-ADD) – [33]
  • Ridgewood YMCA - [34]