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Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, costing the nation approximates $137 billion a year. Presently autism research is receiving the least amount of funding, less than 5% of funding for childhood diseases. Treatment using Applied Behavior Analysis has been shown in scientific studies to be effective in increasing behaviors and teaching new skills as well as reducing problem behavior (Golstein, 2002, Odom et. al., 2003, McConnell, 2002; Horner et. al.2002). When applied behavior analysis is provided intensively research has shown that the gains in development may be strong enough to decrease the need for special services, in whole decreasing the amount of government spending per individual per year on special services. As a result, applied behavior analysis not only has the power to make significant impact on the functioning of diagnosed individuals, but also our greater community as a whole. In addition a wave of students with ASD is reaching age 21 and upon graduation will be flooding into the adult world that is not adequately prepared for them.
There are currently 1.5 million adults living with autism and in the next decade an expected 500,000 more individuals will be entering adulthood (Autism Speaks, 2012). This large population of adults with autism face the tedious challenges of independent living, managing finances and economics, and securing a career. All of these obstacles for adults start in high school, where the present graduation rate stands at 56% for a student with ASD. The National Autistic Society survey lists that 70% of adults with autism are unable to live independently. Of this percentage, 49% live with family members and 32% live in residential care facilities. Only 3% are living independently and 6% have a full time paid job.
Few existing day programs in New Jersey are designed to meet the unique challenges of autism, and already the priority wait list for residential services for the developmentally disabled in our state exceeds 5,000 adults. It is imperative that services utilizing treatment in applied behavior analysis across the lifespan, be implemented as soon as possible throughout our community in order to increase the life functioning for diagnosed individuals and lessen the burden on our society.
* Non-profit programs are sponsored by ABA4You, Inc. a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit corporation. Your donations are deductible to the full extent allowed by law.