COVID-19 and Autism in NJ

July 24, 2020

A central hub of coronavirus resources for the autism community

Originally posted:  3/18/2020 

When the state lockdown began in early March, Autism New Jersey developed the following information, resources, and articles to help families and providers navigate the services in place to help individuals with autism through the extended COVID-19 quarantine.

We’ve been able to share relevant, accurate information in a timely manner during a fluid situation of great uncertainty.

Autism New Jersey has remained focused on our mission to be a resource for the autism community, and we will continue to do so as we begin to move through the stages of reopening.

We recognize that there are many questions and complex considerations, and we are working hard to address these substantial issues and provide our expertise and stakeholder perspectives as plans are developed.

During this time, we’re proud to say that not one call to our Helpline has gone unanswered. If you need assistance, call us at 800.4.AUTISM or information@autismnj.org or send us a message/chat with us via the link at the bottom of this page.

State Agency Updates

The portal created by the state after Governor Murphy’s initial Executive Order announcing aggressive social distancing measures to mitigate further spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey remains the best source for official information and NJ State Resources.

Official New Jersey Covid-19 Information Hub

DOH

NJ Department of Health

The DOH website offers information and useful links relating to COVID-19:

DOH COVID-19 Page

The New Jersey Early Intervention System:

Early Intervention services fall under DOH.  They have offered the following guidance and information.  We will update as new information becomes available.  

DOE

NJ Department of Education

School closures are having a profound effect on students with autism, families, teachers, and all school personnel. We are monitoring state and federal considerations and actions to share up-to-date information and advocate for special education services.

While there are many questions regarding special education services during the COVID-19 pandemic, read our article offering some answers to what is known:

Accessing Special Ed Services

ESY Services

JUST ANNOUNCED:  On June 12, the State announced that ESY services can commence as of July 6, 2020.  Read the new guidance here

Other Resources

Tele-Education:

NJ DOE COVID-19 Homepage

Special Ed    APSSD Info

NJDOE Broadcasts offer information and updates directly from the DOE

DCF

NJ Department of Children and Families

DCF offers some helpful links and resources on its website:

For Families    For DCF Contracted Providers

The following direct links may be of particular interest for providers:

DDD

NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities

DDD has called for the closure of day programs and the discontinuation of non-essential community outings.  The Division is working to address issues about service delivery and reimbursement.

DDD Coronavirus Updates
DDD’s COVID-19 updates for Individuals, Families and Providers are centrally-located on Department of Human Services COVID-19 webpage.

DDD COVID-19 Updates

Help Desk
A Help Desk has been established for you to submit questions related to these closures and to DDD’s response to the COVID-19 situation:  DDD.COVID-19@dhs.nj.gov.   Please do not submit health-related questions to this help desk, including questions about COVID-19 testing, treatment, etc. For health-related questions and concerns, please contact a health care professional or call 911.

DHS Press Release (4/6/20): How NJ FamilyCare is Working to Support New Jerseyans’ Health Care Needs During the Coronavirus Emergency

DOBI

NJ Department of Banking & Insurance

DOBI has created the following information for those with questions about insurance.

COVID-19 & Health Insurance FAQs

NJDOL

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development

New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) plans to offer a full suite of online and telephonic jobseeker services through its One-Stop Career Centers beginning Aug. 10. In-person services remain unavailable.

NJ Labor Department Expands Virtual Services to One-Stop Career Center Clients

Medicaid

NJ Medicaid

Governor Murphy announced administrative actions this week to waive consumer cost sharing for COVID-19 testing and testing-related services and enable NJ Medicaid beneficiaries to receive 90-day prescription refills for maintenance medications, in addition to a number of other steps.

Please see the Governor’s press release  for complete details, and the NJ Department of Human Services (DHS) Coronavirus webpage  for details specific to people served by DHS and its divisions and offices.

Social Security

Social Security

The Social Security Administration has announced that all local Social Security offices will be closed to the public for in-person service starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Read their news release for additional information.

Economic Impact Payment:  How will it affect your Social Security

Like other tax credits, these payments do not count as income or resources for meanstested programs for 12 months. So receiving a rebate will not interfere with someone’s eligibility for SSI, SNAP, Medicaid, ACA premium credits, TANF, housing assistance, or other income-related federal programs. An individual will have 12 months to spend down the payment before it is counted as income.

More information about social security benefits during COVID-19

FAQ about COVID-19 Stimulus Payments and ABLE Accounts

Service Delivery

We continue to collaborate with state officials, our partners, and provider groups to discuss the impact this is having on service delivery. We will share information as it becomes available.  If you are a provider with questions, please contact Eric Eberman, Director of Public Policy at eeberman@autismnj.org

Medical Treatment

Be Prepared:  Read our article COVID-19 and Autism:  How to Be Prepared in the event your loved one with autism develops COVID-19.

Hospital Visitation Policies for Individuals with Disabilities: On May 12th, the New Jersey Department of Health issued an updated memorandum that allows a designated support person to accompany an individual with disabilities during a hospitalization and outlines the restrictions and requirements.

Visitation Memorandum

Preventing Discrimination:  No individual with autism or another disability should feel they will be discriminated against in receiving care for COVID-19. Per the US Department of Health and Human Services:

“In light of the Public Health Emergency concerning the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is providing this bulletin to ensure that entities covered by civil rights authorities keep in mind their obligations under laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and exercise of conscience and religion in HHS-funded programs.”

Additional Medical Treatment Resources

Telehealth

Telehealth

We recognize that this is a complex issue for providers and patients alike. We are currently gathering information relating to telehealth, including links to carriers’ policies, to help you during this time.

Check out our Telehealth Guide

Legal/HR

BCBAs & More

For BCBAs

Online Training Courses

The following courses may be of interest to those seeking additional training, introductory and advanced.

  • Autism Partnership Foundation is now offering a FREE 40 hour RBT (Registered Behavior Technician) training. This 40 hour training is based on the 2nd edition task list and meets the requirements outlined by the BACB for individuals seeking their RBT certification.
  • Relias is offering free training courses for Healthcare Professionals and Individuals.  Learn the basics of hygiene and infection control.
  • Maximizing Parent Participation During Telehealth Services (ReThink)

Tips for Families

We are sensitive to the many challenges families are experiencing ranging from changes in daily routines, disruptions in their child’s educational, behavioral, and mental health services, and childcare needs. When possible, we recommend maintaining a schedule and routine, trying to provide consistent behavioral support, staying active and engaged, and resting – again, when possible. There are many unknowns which make any predictions difficult for when social distancing requirements will end.

We’ll be adding resources to this page to offer support for you during this time.  Also, check our Facebook page for links and information.

Supporting Individuals

The pandemic has drastically changed how treatment is delivered and is affecting individuals and families in many different ways.  Our staff offers the following articles with suggestions and resources to guide you through this difficult time.

In-Home Suggestions for Parents

Severe Challenging Behavior

Helping Individuals with Autism Wear Face Masks

Regression During a Pandemic

Our team has curated resources and tools that may be useful for learning from home:

Homeschooling Resources      Useful Apps

More free resources:

Supporting Yourself

You are not in this alone and we all need to remember to take care of ourselves.

Read our article about taking things Moment by Moment: Taking Care of Ourselves during Extreme Crises.

Mom2Mom | 877.914.6662– a NJ-based peer support helpline available Monday – Thursday 8:30am-8pm and Friday 8am-4pm.

Here are some more links that may be helpful:

Self-Advocates

We’ve collected a few resources for self-advocates looking to connect.

Share more resources with us!  Email information@autismnj.org

Employment and Financial Concerns

Legislation

Legislation addressing financial impact on families and businesses 

A number of bills were quickly introduced in the legislature focusing on addressing the financial hardships individuals and small business will likely experience due to loss of income and business disruption during this unprecedented health crisis. We’ll follow the legislation and post relevant information. Read Coronavirus Emergency Relief Assistance in NJ>>

On Friday, March 27, President Trump signed a $2 trillion legislative package, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (S. 748). This act will provide more than substantial relief due to the current and projected impact that COVID-19 will have on the country.

What’s Inside The Senate’s $2 Trillion Coronavirus Aid Package (NPR)

Grants

As information becomes available about grants or private financial assistance for families, we will post it here. 

NJ Council on Developmental Disabilities is offering COVID-19 Emergency Funding Grants for families and providers, typically $250-500.

Jobs

State of NJ COVID-19 Jobs and Hiring Portal

The State of New Jersey has developed a centralized resource to match talent with opportunities in industries on the front lines of serving New Jerseyans during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Did you lose your job or have your hours reduced as a result of COVID-19? Businesses across New Jersey need thousands of workers for immediate hire.

Experience our Power of Connection

Autism New Jersey is following recommendations from the CDC and state Department of Health and is implementing telework and remote meetings for its employees to help reduce the community spread of the coronavirus.

During this time, our 800.4.AUTISM Helpline will remain open. Please leave a message with specific dates and times you are available for a call-back, or email information@autismnj.org.  You can also message us via our website, and we’ll aim to reply promptly.