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Innovative Report Outlines Ways to Improve Quality of Life for Individuals with Autism

Thursday, July 8, 2010 General News J E 4
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Study included more than 500 interviews of individuals, families and professionals

ROBBINSVILLE, N.J., July 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Autism New Jersey, the state's oldest and largest advocacy organization for individuals with autism, today released the results of a landmark review of more than 500 interviews to determine the best ways that the needs of individuals with autism, their families and professionals who support them would be better served in New Jersey.

"This is a seminal document because it identifies the critical goals and activities that will improve the quality of life for one of New Jersey's most vulnerable and underserved populations," said Autism New Jersey Executive Director Linda Meyer, Ed.D., MPA, BCBA-D, CPT.

Connecting with Autism: A Blueprint for Lifetime Support was developed over a yearlong period and involved more than 2,000 hours traveling across the state conducting face-to-face interviews of 537 individuals with autism, their families, and the professionals who support them.  The study was designed and facilitated by James Davy, former Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services.

"I am excited about how this is moving forward. I am confident that this Blueprint for Lifetime Support will spark conversations, guide collaborative actions and produce positive and meaningful transformations for the entire autism community," Davy said.

"What the Blueprint does, more than anything, is present a vision of a future where individuals on the autism spectrum can lead full and productive lives from their infant years through adulthood," said Autism New Jersey Board President James Paone, II, Esq.

"Fundamentally, the Blueprint designs a lifelong system with access to services and supports when they are needed and as they are needed," he added.

"The Blueprint is a first-of-its-kind document.  It relied on face-to-face interviews to fully understand the needs and desires of the entire autism community.  The Blueprint provides guidance and direction for the autism community itself as well as policymakers and leaders at the local, state and federal levels," Meyer said.

Copies of the Blueprint are being distributed to the Governor, his staff, legislators, local officials, community leaders and others across the state.

"We didn't want to focus on shortcomings in the current system. Our purpose was to define a future system that would support professionals and make the lives of individuals with autism and their families better," Meyer said.

The interviews and other research activities revealed five principle goals within its central theme, "A Continuum of Seamless Services and Support throughout the Lifespan." These goals include:

  • Lifetime access to individualized services;
  • Collaboration and partnerships for lifetime planning;
  • Skilled and compassionate people;
  • Credible and reliable information; and
  • Community-based inclusion.

Within each goal, the Blueprint provides an image of the future, initiatives that would help achieve the image and success indicators for each initiative. The 28-page Blueprint includes 16 different initiatives to create a lifetime support system. Among those initiatives are:

  • Screening and referral
  • Services across the lifespan
  • Expanded adult services and supports
  • Crisis intervention services
  • Respite services
  • Lifetime planning models
  • Training programs for all professionals
  • Training programs specific to medical professionals
  • Training programs for parents and siblings
  • Evaluation of training programs
  • A navigation system to guide anyone affected by autism
  • Advocacy support
  • Local autism awareness forums
  • Local and regional business advisory councils
  • Inclusion in extracurricular, recreation and membership organizations
  • Inclusion in faith-based communities

About Autism New Jersey

Autism New Jersey is the state's leading source of information, support, advocacy and public policy for parents of individuals with autism and the professionals who support them.  Autism New Jersey, formerly COSAC, was founded in 1965. Autism New Jersey is dedicated to creating a society of compassion and inclusion for all. Autism New Jersey believes that actions taken to achieve this mission must be grounded in science.

About Autism

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) affect approximately 1 percent of New Jersey's population and has no racial, ethnic or societal boundaries. ASDs are developmental disorders that severely impact an individual's social interaction and communication. While individuals on the autism spectrum possess varying abilities, the majority require intensive treatment and support.

For more information about autism and how it affects individuals, families and professionals, please visit www.autismnj.org or call, toll-free 800.4.AUTISM.

A copy of the Blueprint is available at www.autismnj.org/Doc/Blueprint.pdf 

SOURCE Autism New Jersey

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