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State Autism Profiles: New Jersey

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In 2000, 3,322 or 1.50% of children ages 3-21 who received special education services in New Jersey have autism. In 2014-2015, 17,803 or 7.66 % of children with disabilities ages 3-21 who received special education services have autism.

Table 1-1: IDEA Part B - Children with Autism in New Jersey for 1999-2000 and 2014-2015
(Child Count by Age Group)

Age 3-5



Age 6-21



Age 3-21



Source: Reported by the State of New Jersey in accordance with Section 618 of IDEA to U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs

Table 1-2: IDEA Part B - Children with Disabilities in New Jersey for 1999-2000 and 2014-2015
(Child Count by Age Group)

Age 3-5



Age 6-11



Age 12-17



Age 18-21



Age 6-21



Age 3-21



Source: Reported by the State of New Jersey in accordance with Section 618 of IDEA to U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs


New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force
In September 2007, A. 4057/S. 2599 was signed into law, creating the New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force. The goals of the task force are to study the needs of adults with autism and offer recommendations for improving support services, particularly in the areas of job training, job placement, housing, and long-term care. The task force has 13-members: six appointed by the governor, five commissioners from state agencies, and a member appointed by the Senate President and Speaker of the Assembly. The Task Force issued its report in October 2009, outlining recommendations and legislation for consideration to the governor and legislature.

On February 29, 2016, S.1825 and A.3432 were introduced to establish an 11-member Task Force to study and make recommendations concerning the mobility and support services needs of New Jersey adults with autism spectrum disorder. The duties of the Task Force include evaluating research regarding the alleviation of transportation barriers and obstacles for adults with ASD and developing and issuing recommendations to alleviate said barriers. The bills were referred to the relevant committees, but no further action was taken.


In August 2009, Governor Jon Corzine signed A.2238/S.1651 into law, requiring health benefits coverage for the expenses of the costs of screening and diagnosing autism or another developmental disability, including coverage of certain treatments deemed medically necessary in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders (autism, childhood disintegrative disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder) as prescribed by the covered individual’s physician. Covered treatments include physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and evidence-based behavioral interventions. When the covered person is under 21 years of age and the person's primary diagnosis is autism, coverage must be provided for expenses incurred for medically necessary behavioral interventions based on the principles of applied behavior analysis and related programs, as prescribed through a treatment plan. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 17:48-6ii, § 17:48A-7ff, § 17:48E-35.33, § 17B:26-2.1cc, § 17B:27-46.1ii, § 17B:27A-7.16, § 17B:27A-19.20, § 26:2J-4.34, § 52:14-17.29p and § 52:14-17.46.6b (2009 N.J. Laws, Chap. 115, A.B. 2238 of 2009) 

New Jersey also has a mental health parity law that provide hospital or medical expense benefits to provide coverage for biologically-based mental illness, including pervasive developmental disorder or autism, under the same terms and conditions as provided for any other sickness under contract.
(N.J. Rev. Stat. § 17:48-6v, § 17:48A-7u, § 17:48E-35.20, § 17B:26-2.1s, § 17B:27-46.1v, § 17B:27A-7.5, § 17B:27A-19.7 and § 26:2J-4.20)


New Jersey’s benchmark plan includes coverage of autism services, but has not categorized them as falling under one of the ten essential health benefits. Instead, the plan includes Autism Services under, “speech and cognitive therapy,” “physical and occupational therapy,” “developmental disabilities,” and “applied behavior analysis or related structured behavior services.” The exchange is being run by the federal government.
(Horizon HMO; Horizon HMO Access HSA Compatible)


New Jersey Home and Community-Based Services Waiver (HCBS): NJ Renewal Waiver (0031.R01.00)
This waiver, implemented on October 1, 2008, provides case management, day habilitation, individual supports, respite, supported employment, community transition, support coordination, assistive technology devices, environmental and vehicle adaptations, PERS, and transportation for individuals of all ages with autism, intellectual disability, and developmental disabilities. This waiver expired on September 30, 2013.


In the 2016 Legislative session a number of Acts were proposed to improve the current laws surrounding the education of persons with an autism spectrum disorder and for their educators. These acts include:

  • A.2786, which, if passed, would require that teacher preparation programs for instructional certificate a minimum include the equivalent of six semester credit hours of classroom instruction, clinical experience, including student internships, or a combination thereof, in special education as to address the educational needs of students with autism.
  • A.1895 and S.913, which propose the establishment of the Autism Education Council who would be responsible for the planning and research of educational activities for educators and other individuals working with children with autism in the public schools and for students of postsecondary institutions who are pursuing education careers working with children with autism; hiring additional paraprofessionals to work directly with children with autism in the public schools; and supplemental education services for children with autism in the public schools including after-school socialization programs, recreation programs, transitional planning services, and other appropriate services.
  • A.2048, which would require the Commissioner of Education to establish a five-year Autism Charter School Pilot Program for the purpose of determining the effectiveness of this model in providing additional options for students with autism to access effective instructional programs and individualized learning opportunities designed to enable them to reach their fullest potential.

As of June 7, 2016 no further action has been taken on any of aforementioned Acts.


New Jersey Governor’s Council on Medical Research and Treatment for Autism
The New Jersey Governor’s Council on Autism was established by statute in 1999 to conduct research into the cause and treatments for autism spectrum disorder. Funding was renewed in 2000, and in 2003 a $1 surcharge was added to moving violations for five years; funds generated from the violations would go directly to the council. A.4059/S.2569 was signed into law in September 2007 and extends funding by eliminating a five-year sunset provision. A.4054/S.698 was also signed into law to restructure the council and renamed the council to the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Medical Research and Treatment for Autism.

First Responders Training
A.1908 was signed into law by Gov. Corzine on September 9, 2008 and authorizes the development of a training program for first responders, police, and other emergency personnel on the appropriate recognition and response techniques when encountering an individual with autism spectrum disorders.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Health and Senior Services received funding to establish a mandatory autism registry. The registry would amend the birth-defects registry by requiring health care practitioners to report children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders from birth through the 21st birthday. The registry would allow the state to connect those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder to state-provided social and economic assistance services.

New Jersey Autism Website
A.2965 was introduced in the 2016 session to establish an Autism Website for the state of New Jersey that would include a wide variety of resources, including a checklist of possible indications that a child may have autism, instructions on how to contact the Early Intervention Program, information on public and private agencies that provide programs and services to children with autism. The bill was referred to committee, but no further action was taken.

Autism Programs Fund
Also introduced in the 2016 session, A.3267 would allow taxpayers to indicate on their gross income tax return that a portion of their tax refund or an enclosed contribution shall be deposited in the "Autism Programs Fund." Contributions will be appropriates to the Department of Health to distribute to autism programs throughout the State. The legislation passed the Assembly but the Senate took no further action.


The New Jersey Legislature meets in Regular Session for a two-year term split into two annual sessions and begins the second Tuesday in January. The 2016 Regular Session will meet throughout the year, beginning January12, 2015. The 2017 session is expected to begin on January 10, 2017.

Sponsors of Autism Legislation

  • Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Northfield) District 2
  • Sen. James W. Holzapfel (R-Brick) District 10
  • Sen. Joseph F. Vitale (D-Woodbridge) District 19
  • Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) District 37
  • Rep. David W. Wolfe (R-Brick) District 10
  • Rep. Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus) District 32
  • Rep. Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) District 36
  • Rep. Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) District 37
  • Rep. Gordon M. Johnson (D-Teaneck) District 37

Prepared by Easterseals, Inc.; November 2016.

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