At ECLC of New Jersey, Rep. Sherrill Announces Membership in Autism Caucus and Support for Autism CARES Act of 2019
Chatham, New Jersey – Today, as part of Autism Awareness Month, Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) toured Education, Careers & Lifelong Community (ECLC) of New Jersey in Chatham to highlight services that include and empower people with disabilities and their families. Alongside ECLC of New Jersey Executive Director Bruce Litinger, Representative Sherrill announced a series of bipartisan actions on behalf of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities:
- Joining the bipartisan Coalition for Autism Research and Education (known as the Autism Caucus), a bicameral congressional caucus dedicated to autism advocacy on Capitol Hill;
- Co-sponsoring H.R. 1058, the Autism CARES Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill to reauthorize current federal research, education, and support efforts for those on the autism spectrum and their families. Crucially, the CARES Act of 2019 advances the understanding of autism as a lifespan condition, and will provide more information on the need for community-based services to ensure individuals have greater opportunities to live, work, and fully participate in their communities; and
- Co-sponsoring H.R. 555, the Disability Integration Act, a bipartisan bill to ensure the right of people with disabilities to live in and receive services in their own homes.
April is designated as Autism Awareness month. Recent studies have shown that rates of autism have tripled in a generation in New Jersey. New Jersey now has the highest reported prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the country, with 1 in 35 children being diagnosed with autism by their fourth birthday.
“With the incredible rate of growth of autism diagnoses in New Jersey, it is critical that we support the research, education, and access to services that individuals on the autism spectrum and their families need,” said Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill. “Families in the autism community have shared with me their fears as their children transition to adulthood. Many people lose access to crucial services and face tremendous uncertainty if their parents can no longer care for them. I am proud today to join the Autism Caucus, with their focus on education, research and easing the burden on these families; and to co-sponsor a reauthorization of the Autism CARES Act with new language to encompass the entire lifespan of individuals with autism.”
“The number of children diagnosed with autism continues to grow, and we have seen it firsthand among our students. We are so thrilled with the visit by Congresswoman Sherrill to help raise awareness about the pervasiveness of autism. We appreciate her support of providing resources for people with autism throughout their lifetime,” said ECLC of New Jersey Executive Director Bruce Litinger. “When ECLC of New Jersey opened its first school for students with special needs in 1970, the children were typically diagnosed with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia. Today, about one-third of our students are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and the numbers continue to rise. As our student population has changed, we have proactively addressed their needs. Our Chatham school opened a classroom using a teaching method called ABA for Applied Behavioral Analysis and a Sensory Room, both especially geared for students with autism. We also expanded our adult programs to support students throughout adulthood, whether that means employment support, day programs or social and enrichment activities.”
ECLC of New Jersey provides “Education, Careers & Lifelong Community” to nearly 900 children and adults with special needs from 11 counties. ECLC has schools in Chatham and Ho-Ho-Kus; P.R.I.D.E. Adult Centers in Florham Park and Paramus, and offers opportunities for employment, transition services and support coordination to students and adults through an affiliate, Community Personnel Services (CPS). Learn more at www.eclcofnj.org.