COVID-19 and Autism in NJ

May 11, 2020

A central hub of coronavirus resources for the autism community

Originally posted:  3/18/2020 

Autism New Jersey will remain focused on our mission to be a resource for the autism community. With a fluid situation and great uncertainty, we’ll share relevant, accurate information as it becomes available.

We’ve developed the following information and resources to help families and providers navigate the services in place to help individuals with autism through the coming weeks of COVID-19 quarantine.

State Agency Updates

Governor Murphy, via Executive Order, has announced aggressive social distancing measures to mitigate further spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey.

The following portal has been created by the State to link you to all official 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

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

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

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: Reasonable accommodations such as a support person, even during a pandemic, are civil rights. For more information, see Disability Rights New Jersey’s letter encouraging state policy to allow a support person.

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

With school and program closures, your child/family member may need additional supports if changes in their routine cause stress or anxiety. When possible, we recommend maintaining a schedule and routine, trying to provide consistent behavioral support, staying active and engaged, and resting – again, when possible. The “social distancing” and self-quarantine recommendations will be in effect for weeks.

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

Being stuck at home 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 reminders to guide you through this difficult time.

In-Home Suggestions for Parents

Severe Challenging Behavior

Our team has curated resources and tools that may be useful:

Homeschooling Resources      Useful Apps

More free resources and visual supports:

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.

  • Spectrum of South Jersey / A.S.P.E.N. (YASJ) is offering a daily check-in Zoom Meeting from 1 to 2pm for self-advocates looking to connect with others during this time. You can join their private Facebook Group or for call-in information, contact Meaghan at spectrumasj@gmail.com
  • The Division-funded New Jersey Self-Advocacy Project announced a new webinar series for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), Stay Healthy at Home: Living Your Best Life During Quarantine. Webinars will be held every Tuesday in April, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Looking for something different? Alex Manners is a 23 year old living with Asperger’s in the UK.  He’s blogging daily during his quarantine on his YouTube Channel.

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

Employment and Financial Concerns

Benefits

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development administers benefits such as Earned Sick Leave, Temporary Disability and Family Leave Insurance,  policies that may be of interest. If information specific to special needs becomes available, we will share it here.

The site offers a helpful printable guide (in English and Spanish) to help determine your options.

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.