Joey Lockwood has difficulty with verbal communication because of autism, but he loves getting letter in the mail.

One thing that really makes Joey Lockwood happy these days is getting mail.

Joey, who is low- to mid-functioning on the autistic spectrum, will turn 11 at the end of the month, and his mother put out a call on Facebook for letters and drawings to be sent to him via the U.S. Postal Service.

"Yesterday was the second day he got letters. He was so happy," said his mother, Colleen Lockwood, of Hammonton. "It lit up his face."

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Joey's interest developed suddenly, she said. One day he couldn't wait for the mail carrier to arrive, and kept asking for letters. So she started putting junk mail back in the mailbox for him. But that isn't the same as an envelope addressed in his name, she said.

Joey goes to the Y.A.L.E. School for autistic children in Voorhees, Camden County. His communication skills are limited. His mother said he can't have an extended conversation but can make his needs clear and answer simple questions. Yet he has taught himself many Spanish, French and Russian words, and the Greek alphabet.

"One of his teachers asked him some questions in Spanish, and he understood," said Colleen, president of the Hammonton FACES 4 Autism chapter, who can be reached at "He answered her back in English."

Colleen Lockwood would love for Joey to get even more mail, especially leading up to his birthday May 30.

Send your letters and hand-drawn pictures to: Joey Lockwood, 72 S. Chew Road, Hammonton, NJ 08037.

Academically gifted

Gabriella Barber, 14, an eighth-grade student at Galloway Township Middle School, will attend the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth's program for the academically gifted this summer. She will study Foundations of Psychology at Haverford College in Pennsylvania.

Barber, a visual artist and musician, will attend Charter Tech High School for the Performing Arts next year, said her mother, Laura Hecht.

ACCC students honored

The New Jersey Council of County Colleges honored Atlantic Cape Community College students Felix Contreras, of Galloway Township, and Peter Hall, of Egg Harbor City, for outstanding academic achievement at its 19th annual Phi Theta Kappa Day celebration May 2 in Trenton.

In April, Atlantic Cape welcomed 209 inductees to the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. Students with grade point averages of 3.5 or higher are invited to join Phi Theta Kappa.

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