The NJ Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) has been the lead resource agency for individuals with developmental disabilities and families to seek programs and services since 1959. The Division has a broad scope – addressing individual diagnoses that fall collectively within the definition of intellectual and developmental disabilities. Categories and eligibility information can be found here. The Division's mission to protect the health and safety of the individuals it serves, promote equity and fairness among diagnoses and expend responsibly and efficiently state tax dollars continues, today.
The most recent US Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control study identified the national Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) rate as 1 in 68 births. New Jersey's rate is reportedly 1 in 45. As such, the state has taken a number of significant steps to be responsive to issues associated with its population of individuals with ASD.
An Adults with Autism Task Force (AWATF) was created by statute and charged with making recommendations to the Governor and Legislature about programs and services that would meet the needs of adults with ASD. The report was released in late 2009. Acting upon one of the Task Force’s recommendations, DHS established an Office of Autism (OOA) under the DDD umbrella in August 2010. The Office will provide a centralized place for DDD staff to focus on issues associated with ASD, identify and work with staff in sister state agencies to develop plans of service coordination for persons with ASD and promote, disseminate and organize best practices in the training of staff and other supports to people with ASD.