Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) continued to wage his battle against autism last week, visiting The Phoenix Center in Nutley on Wednesday to meet with parents, educators, advocates and experts to discuss efforts to address autism on a federal level.
April is Autism Awareness Month, and a recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention study shows that 1 in 49 New Jersey children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder by age 8. Autism affects 1 in 88 children nationwide, with boys being diagnosed at a rate five times higher than girls.
Boys in New Jersey are diagnosed at a 1 in 29 rate, while 1 in 172 girls are diagnosed with autism in the Garden State.
“Autism is a complex disorder and requires support tailed to the individual,” Menendez said in a press release. “Whatever the level of severity, autism rates are shockingly high in New Jersey, far above the national average. As autism becomes increasingly prevalent in our communities, we need to redouble our efforts to understand what can be done to help these children learn and grown into happy, productive adults.”
Menendez is the author of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, which facilitates federal efforts into research, screenings, therapies and public education on autism, according to a press release.
The Phoenix Center is a non-profit, special education school for students with autism and multiple disabilities that require a highly customized program tailored to their individual needs, according to a release. The school serves students from Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Passaic and Union counties.