Coalition for a DSP Living Wage Steering Committee members Suzanne Buchanan and Tom Baffuto weigh in on the Federal Autism Study. Suzanne Buchanan is the Executive Director of Autism New Jersey (https://www.autismnj.org) and Thomas Baffuto serves as Executive Director of the Arc of New Jersey (http://www.arcnj.org/).
Federal Autism Study Shows New Jersey’s Rates on the Rise
Diagnosis of disorder jumps 19 percent among eight-year-olds since 2012
By Lilo H. Stainton, NJ Spotlight
New Jersey has significantly more children diagnosed with autism than other states — and rates are still on the rise. But experts agree, that while concerning, these numbers also reflect a high level of parental awareness, a concentration of skilled providers, strong system to document diagnoses, and robust network of community and school services to support families in need…
…Both Baffuto and Buchanan also said more needs to be done to support individuals with autism who are “aging out” of the state’s system of care. While treatment and support services are traditionally coordinated for youth through school and community groups, residents with autism who reach age 18 may struggle to find housing, employment, and other services on their own.
Another need they flagged is better pay for the direct-support professionals, or frontline providers, who earn an average of $10.50 an hour — slightly over minimum wage — in return for assisting individuals with a wide range of tasks essential to daily living…