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Autism Services in New Jersey

Discover empowering autism services in New Jersey, from early intervention to adult care and financial aid.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
February 20, 2024
10 min read
min read

Understanding Autism in New Jersey

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects a significant number of individuals in New Jersey. As a parent of a child diagnosed with autism, understanding the prevalence of autism and the definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder is crucial. This understanding can aid in seeking appropriate services for autism in New Jersey.

Prevalence of Autism

In New Jersey, autism affects an estimated 1 in 35 children, which is a higher rate than the national average of 1 in 44 children [1]. The rate of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in New Jersey is reportedly 1 in 32, according to the most recent study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [2].

As of June 30, 2021, the number of individuals with ASD receiving services in New Jersey was 40,176, making up 52% of all individuals in the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) [3]. Among these individuals, 86% reside with their families or in their own homes, 9% are in residential facilities, and 5% are in developmental centers. A majority of individuals with ASD receiving services were male (78%) and 67% of individuals with ASD receiving services were 21 years of age or older.

Here's a brief overview of the distribution of individuals with ASD in New Jersey:

Residence Type Percentage
With families or in their own homes 86%
In residential facilities 9%
In developmental centers 5%

Autism Spectrum Disorder Defined

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and the presence of restricted, repetitive behavior patterns. Autism is nearly five times more likely to occur in boys than in girls. The symptoms of ASD can vary greatly from person to person, with some individuals showing mild symptoms and others experiencing severe impairments. It is a "spectrum disorder" because it encompasses a wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment. Understanding the nature and characteristics of ASD can empower families to seek the best-suited autism services in New Jersey for their children.

Autism Services for Children in New Jersey

New Jersey offers a variety of services to support children diagnosed with autism and their families. These services range from early intervention programs to initiatives aimed at finding and assisting children who may require special education services. Let's explore these key autism services in New Jersey.

Early Intervention Services

Early Intervention Services (EIS) in New Jersey are designed to assist children under the age of 3 who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. These services focus on providing necessary supports to these young children and their families, facilitating their development and helping them reach their full potential. For more information, families can reach out to EIS through the NJ Department of Health.

Project Child Find Initiative

For children aged 3 and older, New Jersey offers the Project Child Find initiative. This program, run by the Office of Special Education Programs at the state Department of Education, helps identify children who may need special education services. The initiative not only identifies these children but also provides referrals for assistance, ensuring that they receive the support they need. Families can contact Project Child Find by calling 800-322-8174 for more information [4].

Family Centered Care Services

In addition to EIS and Project Child Find, New Jersey also provides Family Centered Care Services (FCCS). These services offer county-based case management to all families with autism, providing information on accessing state, federal, and community resources. The goal of FCCS is to ensure that families have the necessary tools and knowledge to navigate the different autism services in New Jersey and get the support they need [4].

These services underscore New Jersey's commitment to providing comprehensive support for children with autism and their families. By offering early intervention, identification, referral, and case management services, New Jersey ensures that families have access to the resources they need to navigate the challenges of autism.

Autism Services for Adults in New Jersey

As individuals with autism transition into adulthood, their needs change and evolve. In New Jersey, there are dedicated services and resources available to support these individuals and their families. Here, we will examine two key entities that provide autism services for adults: the Division of Disabilities Services and the Office on Autism.

Division of Disabilities Services

The Division of Disabilities Services (DDS) is a vital resource for adults with disabilities, including autism, in New Jersey. This division provides information on programs and services that these individuals may be eligible for. To learn more about the resources available, individuals and their families can contact DDS directly at 888-285-3036.

The primary funding source for services for individuals with autism in New Jersey is through the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). However, it's important to note that between the ages of 18 to 21, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families Division of Children’s System of Care (CSOC) accepts DDD eligibility determinations and provides services until age 21 for individuals applying for services.

In order to access DDD services, all new and existing clients must meet the eligibility requirements for DDD and obtain and maintain eligibility for Medicaid. This is due to DDD transitioning to a Medicaid-based Fee-for-Service (FFS) system of reimbursement [5].

Office on Autism

The Office on Autism, a division of the New Jersey Department of Human Services, is another essential resource for adults with autism spectrum disorders. This office provides services that these individuals may be eligible to receive [4].

No specific details are provided in the context regarding the services offered by the Office on Autism. However, typically such offices offer resources including information on autism, service coordination, guidance on navigating available services, and more. It's recommended that individuals or families interested in these services contact the office directly to find out what specific resources are available and how to access them.

In conclusion, accessing services for adults with autism in New Jersey involves understanding the offerings and eligibility requirements of different divisions like the Division of Disabilities Services and the Office on Autism. It's essential that families and individuals stay informed and proactive in accessing these services to ensure the best possible support and assistance for adults with autism.

Autism Education in New Jersey

The state of New Jersey is committed to providing quality education and support to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). From providing local educational agencies with guidance documents like Autism Program Quality Indicators-Revised (APQI-R) to offering specialized training for teachers and administrators, New Jersey prioritizes improving outcomes for students with ASD.

Autism Program Quality Indicators-Revised

The Autism Program Quality Indicators-Revised (APQI-R) is a critical component of the autism services in New Jersey. This guidance document assists Local Educational Agencies in developing, implementing, and evaluating quality programming for students with ASD.

The APQI-R focuses on various elements such as assessment, curriculum, instructional methods, and family involvement. It's designed to ensure that educational programs for students with ASD are comprehensive, appropriate, and effective.

Specialized Autism Training

New Jersey offers specialized autism training through the Office of Special Education. The Autism Specialist in this office provides technical assistance, training, and resources to teachers, administrators, and parents on autism programming, services, and supports. The specialist focuses on improving instruction and outcomes for students with autism and multiple disabilities, including evidence-based practices, functional behavior assessment, positive behavioral supports, and IEP development.

Additionally, the Office of Special Education in New Jersey offers e-learning opportunities on the Autism Spectrum Disorder and other related programs and services. These online resources provide convenient and accessible tools for educators and parents seeking to enhance their understanding and skills in supporting individuals with ASD.

Lastly, the Autism Family Guide, created by New Jersey's Interdepartmental Work Group on Autism Spectrum Disorder, is an invaluable resource for families navigating NJ service systems for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other Developmental Disabilities [2].

In summary, New Jersey's commitment to autism education is evident in its various initiatives and resources designed to enhance the quality of life and learning outcomes for individuals with ASD. From comprehensive programming guides to specialized training and e-learning opportunities, these tools play a vital role in empowering families and educators in the autism community.

Autism and Law Enforcement in New Jersey

When it comes to enhancing the safety and well-being of individuals with autism, establishing effective communication and understanding between law enforcement and the autism community is crucial. In New Jersey, Autism New Jersey has launched initiatives to foster this relationship.

Autism New Jersey's Law Enforcement Initiative

In 2024, Autism New Jersey launched a Law Enforcement Initiative to increase the adoption of autism-friendly practices among law enforcement officers. This initiative aims to foster safe interactions between law enforcement and individuals with autism.

As part of this initiative, a Law Enforcement Advisory Committee was formed, comprised of law enforcement officers with diverse backgrounds and geographic representation. These officers bring their experience of working with individuals with autism and their families, contributing valuable insights and guidance to the initiative.

This initiative is supported by a grant from the State Bar Foundation, reinforcing Autism New Jersey's commitment to creating a safe and understanding environment for individuals with autism.

Training Law Enforcement Officers

Key to the success of the Law Enforcement Initiative is equipping law enforcement officers with the necessary knowledge and skills to interact effectively with individuals with autism. To spearhead these training efforts, Doreen Yanik, with 28 years of law enforcement and 32 years of legal experience, was appointed as the Law Enforcement Initiative Director at Autism New Jersey in 2024.

In addition, Kayla Torres, MPA, joined Autism New Jersey as the Community Engagement Coordinator to enhance engagement with diverse communities statewide. Her role is instrumental in efforts to support individuals with autism and ensure their safety and well-being [6].

In conclusion, the relationship between law enforcement and the autism community is vital. Through initiatives like the one launched by Autism New Jersey, this relationship can be strengthened, ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals with autism in New Jersey.

Financial Aid for Autism Services

Caring for a child with autism can be financially challenging for many families due to the costs associated with treatment, copays, transportation to specialists, and therapists, as well as equipment for elopement and wandering. This financial burden can lead some parents to reduce their working hours or quit their jobs to care for their child [7]. In this section, we will explore some financial aid options for autism services in New Jersey.

Autism NJ- Funding
Source: autismnj.org

Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund

The Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund in New Jersey is a financial lifeline for families faced with overwhelming medical expenses for their child. The fund offers financial assistance to families who spend a certain percentage of their income on medical bills not covered by insurance, including expenses for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, a recognized treatment for autism.

Utility Assistance Programs

In addition to the Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund, The State Board of Public Utilities in New Jersey provides several assistance programs for utility, electric, and gas bills. These programs can help ease the financial burden for families dealing with the costs of autism services. Additionally, they offer the Emergency Broadband Benefit, which provides a discount on broadband internet service for eligible households [7].

While these are two specific programs available to families in New Jersey, Autism New Jersey has compiled various financial assistance resources that may benefit individuals with autism and their families. These resources include housing options, rental assistance, housing subsidies, and grants. It's important to remember that many of these resources have specific requirements or are means-tested based on the parents' income falling below a certain level.

In conclusion, while the financial burden of caring for a child with autism can be overwhelming, there are resources available to help. Whether it's utility assistance, medical bill relief, or housing subsidies, these programs can provide much-needed financial aid for families navigating autism services in New Jersey.

Division of Developmental Disabilities' Role

In New Jersey, the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) plays a vital role in providing and funding services for individuals with autism. This division is involved in determining eligibility for services and allocating the budget for autism services.

Eligibility for DDD Services

The primary funding source for services for individuals with autism in New Jersey is through the DDD. Between the ages of 18 to 21, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families Division of Children’s System of Care (CSOC) accepts DDD eligibility determinations and provides services until age 21 for individuals applying for services.

To access DDD services, all new and existing clients must meet the eligibility requirements for DDD and obtain and maintain eligibility for Medicaid, as DDD has transitioned to a Medicaid-based Fee-for-Service (FFS) system of reimbursement.

The planning process for individuals with autism in New Jersey helps determine needed services and involves the input of the individual, their guardian, and the Support Coordinator. This process is team-based and requires engagement with a Support Coordination Agency to execute the planning process.

Budget for Autism Services

The budget for autism services in New Jersey is determined based on the results of the NJ Comprehensive Assessment Tool (NJ CAT), which must be completed to assign a budget tier for services.

In terms of fiscal allocation, New Jersey's Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) spent over $1.6 billion on services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), from state and federal funds in Fiscal Year 2021.

It's worth noting that the role of the Division of Developmental Disabilities is crucial in providing and funding autism services in New Jersey. By understanding their role and the process to access these services, families can get the essential support they need for their loved ones with autism.

References

[1]: https://www.nj.gov/education/specialed/programs/autism/

[2]: https://www.nj.gov/humanservices/ddd/individuals/autism

[3]: https://www.nj.gov/humanservices/ddd/assets/documents/AATFrpt.pdf

[4]: https://www.nj.gov/health/fhs/autism/public/services

[5]: https://autismnj.org/information-services/age-related-concerns/adult/

[6]: https://autismnj.org/

[7]: https://autismnj.org/article/guide-to-financial-assistance-resources/

steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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