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Resources for Autism Testing in New Jersey

Explore resources for autism testing in New Jersey and empower your family with knowledge and support.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
February 28, 2024
8 min read
min read

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition that impacts communication, behavior, and social skills. Recognizing its signs and understanding the state of autism diagnoses in New Jersey can be pivotal in seeking necessary support and resources.

Signs and Symptoms of Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder manifests differently in each individual, with a range of signs and symptoms that vary widely in type and severity. Caregivers should be alert to red flags that might indicate Autism Spectrum Disorder. Not responding to their name by 9 months, not pointing at objects to show interest by 18 months, and not playing pretend by 30 months are among the signs to watch out for [1].

It's important to note that 25-30% of children later diagnosed with autism had typical skills at 12-18 months, but then significantly regressed. This highlights the importance of monitoring developmental milestones for early identification and intervention.

Autism Diagnoses in New Jersey

The process of diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder is comprehensive. It involves observations by specialized diagnosticians using specific tools like the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule/Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADOS/ADI-R). These observations help determine if the individual meets the criteria set by the DSM-5 for an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis [1].

In 2013, Autism Spectrum Disorder became the formal diagnosis, replacing terms like autistic disorder (autism), Asperger’s Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder [1].

Understanding the signs of ASD and the process of diagnosis is the first step towards accessing autism testing in New Jersey. Early recognition and diagnosis can help individuals and their families access a range of resources and supports tailored to their needs.

Autism Testing and Diagnosis

In New Jersey, the process of testing and diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a critical step in ensuring early and effective intervention. This process involves recognizing red flags for autism, conducting autism screenings, and using specialized diagnostic tools.

Red Flags for Autism

Caregivers should be alert to red flags that might indicate Autism Spectrum Disorder. According to Autism New Jersey, these include:

  • Children not responding to their name by 9 months
  • Not pointing at objects to show interest by 18 months
  • Not playing pretend by 30 months

These signs do not confirm the presence of autism but serve as indicators that further evaluation may be necessary.

Autism Screening Methods

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening for ASD during well visits at 18 and 24 months, and at any time a parent raises a concern. For autism testing in New Jersey, screening instruments such as the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) or the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) are used for this purpose.

Screening Method Description
M-CHAT A parent-reported questionnaire to assess the risk of ASD in toddlers
CARS An assessment tool used to identify symptoms of ASD in children and adults

Diagnostic Tools for Autism

The diagnostic process for autism entails observations by specialized diagnosticians using specific tools like the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule/Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADOS/ADI-R) to determine if the individual meets the criteria set by the DSM-5 for an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis.

In 2013, Autism Spectrum Disorder became the formal diagnosis, replacing terms like autistic disorder (autism), Asperger’s Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder [1].

New Jersey has seen a significant increase in autism diagnoses, with a 315% increase from 1995 to 2010, compared to the national average of 57%. This may be due to greater awareness and more inclusive requirements for autism diagnoses in the state [2].

Understanding the process of autism testing and diagnosis in New Jersey can help families navigate this often complex journey and ensure individuals with ASD receive the necessary support and services.

Autism Services in New Jersey

New Jersey offers a variety of services to support families navigating the process of autism testing and treatment. From state-funded programs to insurance coverage, these resources aim to make the process more accessible and affordable.

Hospitals for Autism Testing

There are a number of hospitals and clinics in New Jersey that offer comprehensive autism testing services. These facilities are equipped with the necessary tools and staffed by professionals trained in the diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It's important to choose a facility that offers a multidisciplinary approach, as this ensures a thorough evaluation and a comprehensive treatment plan. A list of these facilities can be found on the New Jersey Department of Human Services website.

State-Funded Autism Programs

New Jersey has implemented a state-funded program, the Autism Spectrum Disorder Program (ASDP), to assist families in obtaining evaluations for autism and accessing services. The goal of ASDP is to identify individuals with ASD early and provide necessary support and interventions. This program is overseen by the Division of Developmental Disabilities, which also funds the Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism. This council supports research and treatment for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

Insurance Coverage for Autism Services

In New Jersey, insurance plans are required to provide coverage for screening and treatment for autism spectrum disorder, including behavioral health treatment, when deemed medically necessary by a healthcare professional. Additionally, New Jersey law mandates health insurers to cover screening for autism and other developmental disabilities for children between the ages of 18 and 24 months, including coverage for any subsequent assessments determined to be necessary [3].

These resources are vital in terms of accessibility to autism testing in New Jersey and subsequent treatments. By combining state-funded programs with insurance coverage, New Jersey aims to ensure that families have access to the support they need when navigating the process of autism testing and treatment.

Autism Support and Resources

Navigating the process of autism testing in New Jersey can seem overwhelming, but a wealth of resources and support are available to assist families and individuals on this journey. From hospitals offering dedicated autism care to state-funded programs and registries, families are not alone in their pursuit of understanding and support.

Autism Support at Hospitals

In New Jersey, hospitals like Hackensack Meridian Health provide robust Autism Care services that adhere to the medical home philosophy. This approach focuses on providing dedicated care to patients with autism, with special attention given to family resource specialists provided through a partnership with the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN) Hackensack Meridian Health.

The family resource specialist at Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital, through the partnership with SPAN, provides guidance to parents, caregivers, and families. This specialist assists in advocating for their children in collaboration with the school district, ensuring comprehensive support services for children with autism in New Jersey Hackensack Meridian Health.

Furthermore, to assist parents in coping with the challenges of their children's learning or behavioral issues, the hospital provides parent support groups led by a social worker and family resource specialist. These groups encourage sharing and open dialogue among participants in New Jersey, with flexible scheduling to accommodate varying availabilities Hackensack Meridian Health.

Family Support System in New Jersey

Families in New Jersey seeking autism testing and services can reach out to the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), for guidance and assistance in accessing evaluations, interventions, and ongoing support for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) New Jersey Department of Human Services.

The DDD provides services to individuals with autism who meet specific eligibility criteria, including diagnosis before the age of 21 and substantial functional limitations in at least three major life activities New Jersey Department of Human Services.

Families of individuals with autism in New Jersey can access information and support through the Family Support System, which offers various resources and services to enhance the quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities New Jersey Department of Human Services.

Autism Registry in New Jersey

The State of New Jersey has a waiver program that provides services to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. This allows them to live in the community and receive support services instead of being institutionalized New Jersey Department of Human Services.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed P.L. 2011, c.150, which transferred responsibility for the screening and evaluation of individuals aged 3 to 21 for developmental disabilities from the Department of Education to the Division of Developmental Disabilities within the Department of Human Services NJ Department of Human Services.

Recognizing the high prevalence of autism in the state, with 1 in 41 children identified as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD), significantly higher than the national average of 1 in 59 children, the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Education (DOE) recommended the creation of an Autism Spectrum Disorder Task Force NJ Department of Human Services. The task force aims to explore the development of a model for a statewide system of care that would address the unique and comprehensive needs of individuals with autism.

Autism Intervention in New Jersey

After undergoing autism testing in New Jersey and receiving a diagnosis, families may feel overwhelmed. However, numerous resources and services in the state are available to support children with autism and their families. These include early intervention programs, educational support, and other autism-specific support services.

Early Intervention for Autism

New Jersey provides early intervention services for children under the age of three who are experiencing developmental delays or disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder. These services encompass comprehensive evaluations, family training, counseling, and other forms of support to foster the child's development [3].

Families in New Jersey seeking early intervention services for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can reach out to the Early Intervention Program in their respective county for assistance. These programs play a crucial role in identifying, evaluating, and providing necessary services for children with developmental delays, including those diagnosed with ASD [3].

Children under the age of three with an eligible developmental delay, such as autism spectrum disorder, can avail services through the Early Intervention Program in New Jersey. The type of services provided are tailored based on the identified needs of the child following a comprehensive evaluation.

Educational Support for Autism

For children older than three years of age, the New Jersey Department of Education provides educational support services. This is done through the Individualized Education Program (IEP) for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. These services aim to cater to the child's educational needs and goals, ensuring they have the necessary support to excel in their learning environment.

Support Services for Autism

In addition to early intervention and educational support, New Jersey offers a range of support services for families and children with autism. The New Jersey Early Intervention (NJEIS) program offers support services, including evaluations to determine eligibility for services, at no cost to families. Children identified with developmental delays, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), may receive autism-specific services under this program [3].

These services are designed to provide families with the resources and support they need to navigate the challenges of autism. By taking advantage of these services, families can ensure their child receives the best possible care and support to meet their unique needs.

References

[1]: https://autismnj.org/understanding-autism/diagnosis/

[2]: https://www.nj.gov/humanservices/ddd/documents/Documents%20for%20Web/ThroughtheMazeReport_0511.pdf

[3]: https://www.nj.gov/humanservices/ddd/documents/autism-family-guide-to-navigating-nj-service-systems.pdf

steven zauderer

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

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