NJ Makes Grants Available For Autism Research

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STATE — Researchers and scientists affiliated with New Jersey academic institutions, research organizations and public or private nonprofit agencies can now apply for $8 million in grants through the Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism.

The grants, awarded over five years, will be used to expand the research, treatment and prevention of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) while supporting the development of an Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) Coordinating Center and several program sites. Applications for the grants are due March 19, 2012 and the announcement of awards will be made in June.

“An estimated 1 in 94 New Jersey children have autism spectrum disorders,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd. “Making $8 million available to scientists and researchers will keep the state in the forefront of research into the diagnosis and treatment of ASDs. One day that research may lead to a cure.”

The grants are funded through a $1 surcharge on fines and penalties from traffic violations that are dedicated to support autism research and treatment. The funding is available for a five-year period beginning in June.

The Autism Center of Excellence consists of up to three program sites and a coordinating center. The program sites will conduct clinical research on autism, while the coordinating center will provide common management and support for the program sites. Each program site will receive up to $450,000 per year for five years. The coordinating center will receive up to $300,000 per year for five years.

“This funding makes a true commitment to find new and innovative ways to help families impacted by ASD,” said Caroline Eggerding MD, Chairperson of the Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism.

In addition to the funds available for the creation of the Autism Center of Excellence, the Department’s Early Intervention System (EIS) supports families with children from birth to age 3 who are in need of developmental intervention including speech, occupational and physical therapy or other developmental services necessary to achieve their full potential. The EIS budget includes more than $140 million in both state and federal funding in SFY 2012. For complete information on the Early Intervention System visit: http://www.state.nj.us/health/fhs/eis/index.shtml

Autism is an advocacy area embraced by First Lady Mary Pat Christie to bring greater understanding and awareness of the developmental disability. Throughout the year, Mrs. Christie has highlighted the innovative work being done by individuals and organizations throughout the state to serve people with autism spectrum disorder.

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. People with ASDs handle information in their brain differently than other people.

ASDs such as autism and Asperger’s Syndrome affect each person in different ways, and can range from very mild to severe. People with ASDs share some similar symptoms, such as problems with social interaction. But there are differences in when the symptoms start, how severe they are, and the exact nature of the symptoms.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention a person with an ASD might:

  • Not respond to their name by 12 months
  • Not point at objects to show interest by 14 months
  • Not play “pretend” games (pretend to “feed” a doll) by 18 months
  • Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
  • Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • Have delayed speech and language skills
  • Have obsessive interests
  • Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles

For complete information on the grants including eligibility, how to apply and program objectives, visit: http://www.nj.gov/health/autism/research.shtml.

For complete information on Autism and Autism disorders visit the CDC Autism webpage at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html

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