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My name is Dena Buonarota Russell, and I am a single mom to the most amazing twin boys, Keith & Ryan.  We live in Hoboken, NJ!  My boys are 18 years old, and are diagnosed with Autism and ADHD.  They are total rock stars, and are my inspiration for everything I do in my life!


Me… I am a doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, nurse, therapist, chef, teacher, organizer, driver, pharmacist, athletic director, contractor, referee, activity coordinator, secretary, maid, banker, and all around supermom!  I am also exhausted - ALL THE TIME! 


So now I will tell you what I am not, and what I do not do...

I am not a professional advocate, although I would love to be some day!  I am my children’s advocate!  I share resources and advice with families based on my own experiences and what I have learned from being a part of the special needs community for over a decade.  I am not a business owner, corporation, or nonprofit group.   I am just a mom paying it forward helping families by connecting them to resources and helping providers by connecting them to families!  I do not fundraise or accept money!  I do not charge others to be a resource on my website, and I do not get paid or receive discounts for promoting a business or product that I love!  ​

This is our story:

Keith and Ryan were diagnosed at a very early age.  Immediately, I began researching services that were available for the boys.  I realized quickly that my hometown of Hoboken did not have many resources and activities available to families with children who have special needs.  I started researching what was available in other towns in NJ, and gathered as many resources as I could.  After talking with many parents over the next few years, I found out that they also were looking for resources and support in our town.  I decided I needed to share my knowledge of special needs-related services, resources, and activities to the families of Hoboken, as well as provide families with new opportunities for recreational and educational activities.  I am the Founder and prior-Director of the Hoboken Special Needs Parent Group.  I also served as a Board member with the Association for Science in Autism Treatment for three years, working on the Fundraising and Development Committee.  During this time, I also wrote blogs on a variety of special-needs topics on sites such as Mommy Poppins NJ, and Metro Moms Network. 


Due to some unfortunate circumstances going on with my boys in 2015, I was unable to continue doing what I loved so much.  Now that my boys are older and are doing so well, I wanted to start this website as a way to continue to share all of the resources we have either used ourselves, or have gathered to share with others.  The NJ Special Needs Connection website was designed with families in mind, and how I, as a special needs Mom, would want a website of resources that can be easily navigated and filled with great information.  I designed what I needed as a Mom years ago that I felt was not, and is still not, available!

In 2019, I was the Guest Honoree and the "Do-Good Award Recipient" at the 7th Annual Pamper Me Please Dinner Uplifting and Honoring Mothers of Children with Autism, and also honored as the Autism Mom of the Year at the Nassan's Place 2019 Community Appreciation Gala!  I recently completed my SPAN Parent Resource training, and am looking forward to helping more families navigate the world of special needs!    

I sincerely hope you find this website informative and helpful for your family!  My goal is to help spread the word about all of the resources in NJ for our families, and hope that you share the same goals as I do and help spread the word to other families and those in the special needs community!            

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