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Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Jersey Tsunami Watch

The South Orange Patch reports:
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that in the United States 730,000 individuals under the age of 21 have Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In just a few years, this wave of autistic children will be reaching adulthood.

Maplewood mom and special education aide Jeannine Contreras likens the coming tide of adults with autism to a tsunami. "The rate of autism has grown tenfold over the last 20 years," writes Contreras, "and yet the shocking reality is that very little planning has gone into what happens when this generation reaches adulthood with no place to go."

Contreras says that in New Jersey there are already thousands of young adults waiting for services due to the lack of agencies that have specialized programs for adults with autism.

To fill the void, seven local families have joined forces to start a nonprofit group called Strive Community to create an adult day program that utilizes evidence-based, best practices for those with autism spectrum disorder. "Getting such a program up and running is a daunting task with the amount of funds required for start up, let alone long term operations. But it’s doable." Contreras says that other programs originally started by parents serve as models—and those pioneering groups are generous in sharing their experience.