The latest from the state with the highest rate of autism is a report that announced the creation of the NJ Autism Center of Excellence. The NJACE is there to “improve research, treatment and services for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).”
Elizabeth Torres, associate professor of psychology at Rutgers, one of the heads of the center said she hopes that they’ll become a model for programs around the U.S.
We were told about the stunning difference between the national rate and the autism numbers in New Jersey alone.
“While autism affects one in 59 children in United States, one in 34 children has the disorder in New Jersey.” (And it should be added that among boys, the New Jersey rate is one in 22.)
Torres talked about the lack of insurance coverage, the need for therapy and the absence of employment opportunities for people with autism.
James Millonig, an associate professor in neuroscience and cell biology at Rutgers, is also part of the leadership of the NJACE. He promised to focus on research, treatment and employment for people with autism. They’re going to be working with the New Jersey Autism Council ‘in order to advance and disseminate the understanding, treatment, and management of ASD.’
New Jersey really needs to look at the future when the explosion in autism among children expands into the adult population, but curiously they’re not interested in looking for the one in 34 older autistic adults among New Jersey residents to evaluate how they’re living now. What does that tell us?
Torres made several curious comments in the article: ‘Autism is not just a childhood disorder.’
‘A staggering number of adults with autism live without any hope to be embraced by our society.’
‘We need to change the model to help children with autism become adults who are an integral part of our workforce.’
The implication here is that we’re really adept at finding autism in children, but we’re completely neglectful when it comes to adults.
The intro video on their homepage explains the purpose of the NJACE in an upbeat, positive tone.
“Welcome to our new, transformative New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence. …
“We are a group of innovative scientists, clinicians and service providers in the field of autism with the aim of improving the quality of life for families touched by autism in the State of New Jersey.
“Our professional and community advisory boards update us on the needs of the state’s stakeholders about critical issues and gaps in autism research, training and care so that we can work together to close these gaps.
“Together we view autism as a complex condition that presents unique diagnostic and medical management challenges.
“People with autism often require specialized, highly coordinated care tailored to their personal needs and the need of the care givers.
“NJACE offers new ways to help coordinate key areas of research, training and services to advance comprehensive programs meeting the special needs of the autistic individual.
“Our center is very relevant to New Jersey because while the prevalence of autism in the U.S. is one 59 school age children, the New Jersey prevalence is one in 34.
“For this reason, the governor’s council of our state has allocated special funds for the research and treatment of autism. One dollar from motor vehicles violations and fines goes directly to autism research.
“That’s right. This is a unique way to devote state funds to help the autism cause. Our center uses such funds to build a national model for personalized autism research and care. Together as a community we stand to revolutionized health care practices and scientific research to improve the quality of life of those touched by autism. …”
So how worried are experts at the NJACE? Do they see the ever-increasing numbers as a real threat to the future of our county?
On the website there’s also a short Rutgers video on autism situation in America.
“In 2017 there were 50.7M children of school age in the U.S., and one out of 69 were diagnosed with autism. While the CDC reported an increase in autism in 2018 to one out of 59, we still don’t know what leads to the condition and what happens to the child as life goes beyond school age.
“In the U.S. most parents ask, ‘What will happen to my child when the yellow bus stops coming?’ Services and treatments taper off beyond school age, and work employment are scare for individuals with autism.
“The main concern for parents is, who will care for them when I die? Where will he go? Who will emotionally support her? Will they be abused?
“A staggering number of young adults with autism live without any hope to be embraced by our society. …
“We need to change this model and build one that empowers the child with autism so that child becomes an adult who is an integral part of our workforce.
“The first thing we need to do is shift the public perception that autism is just a social or cognitive issue.
“We purpose to redefine autism as a condition that has a number of core problems with the nervous systems.
“Our nervous systems transmit information about pain and temperature, but also about touch, pressure, and self-generated movements. The nerves throughout the body inform our brains on our bodily positions and motions. If there is a problem with the processes underlying such information highway, the brain cannot control the body in motion because it does not have the proper feedback. The person then loses autonomy over the actions and decisions that make up behaviors including especially those in the social realm. …”
HAVING A CHILD WITH AUTISM IS NORMAL AND ACCEPTABLE TODAY
Looking at the information provided by the NJACE, I can guarantee that this new center will quickly join the ranks of “feel-good, gee-we-care-about-autism” groups like IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee ) created by Congress in 2006 (when the autism rate was one in 166 children), or like the MIND Institute at UC Davis, or the advocacy group Autism Speaks.
These other organizations collectively HAVE DONE NOTHING except look the other way as autism consumed more and more of our children. None have been able to show even a hint of a comparable rate among adults, yet they remain untroubled. The NJACE makes it clear on their website that they do not see autism as a national tragedy and a health care emergency. They have no interest in what’s causing all the autism, especially in those children who were healthy and developing normally until a sudden loss of learned skills, including speech, caused a descent into autism.
ALL of these organizations—including the NJACE— are telling us that we have to learn to live with more and more autism. The NJACE claims that there is a “staggering number of [unserved] adults” out there.
So why aren’t we seeing them all over? Where are they hidden?
New Jersey wants to become the national model for addressing autism. This is a hopeless scenario. Should every state expect to have 3 percent of their kids on the spectrum? Will we somehow learn to live with 4 percent of boys with autism?
The loss of so many children to autism, the absence of an equivalent rate among adults, and the prediction of even more horrific increases in the future MEAN NOTHING to them. Their purpose is to NORMALIZE AUTISM.
Autism is here to stay. Get used to it.
Torres was also interviewed on NJTV Oct 2.
Notice that she has no interest in what’s causing the dramatic increase in autism. She is firm that the difference between the New Jersey rate and the national rate is not a tragedy. It’s more the result of all the great services the state provides. It’s all good.
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism.