The State of Autism in New Jersey
Suzanne Buchanan, Executive Director of Autism New Jersey explains how Autism New Jersey supports people with autism and their families and the biggest legislative wins protecting individuals with autism.
"Welcome to State of Affairs. I'm Steve Adubato. Coming to you from the Agnes Varis NJTV Studio in beautiful Newark, New Jersey. We are pleased to welcome, for the first time on this set, Doctor Suzanne Buchanan, Executive Director, Autism New Jersey. Started 1965? Yes. Yes. To do what? Well, there were parents who were concerned that their children with autism weren't getting the services they needed, they weren't getting treatment, and this was even before there were special education laws in the country. Hmm. So they banded together to offer each other support... Hmm. ...and to advocate for better services. You know, Suzanne, I don't like using the term too often. Mm hmm. "What is the state of affairs?" But I need to do it that way. Sure. What is the state of affairs of autism in this state, and then in this nation? Sure. You know, there's a lot of hope. But there's also an urgent call to action. So the reason for hope is that best practice research shows us that when kids with autism get early and intensive behavioral intervention, at around age two or three, about 30 percent of them can go on to be indistinguishable from their peers. They can behaviorally recover from autism. Two to three? Yeah when they start intervention that early. Okay. Right? And so about 30 percent of these kids can lose their diagnosis. Right? We can behaviorally recover about 30 percent of kids when they participate in high quality applied behavior analytic, or ABA programs. Hmm. The sad part is that not a lot of kids have access to this level of care. Right? Because? Because it's expensive. Because there are workforce development issues. And that's another part of the hope actually. There are more graduate programs and applied behavior analysis now, across the state, and across the country, and across the globe, than ever before. And so we're seeing a lot more children have access to these early and important services. But it's simply not eno... we're not reaching enough children. You know, in the programming that we've done around autism, and you know that my sister Michele is an expert in the... Yes. ...field, or an advocate... Yes....and very committed. Yes. And I've talked to her about this offline, and we've talked a little bit on the air as well, there is confusion as to what autism is? Mm hmm. What is it? Mm hmm. So autism is a developmental disorder that affects a child or adult's brain, right? Primarily we see problems with social interaction, social communication, and we see repetitive behaviors, a very narrow range of interests. So I'll give you a real life example. You're in the backyard, you're playing with your 3 year..."