COVID-19 and Autism in NJ
March 18, 2020
A central hub of coronavirus resources for the autism community
Last updated: 4/9/2020 9:00 am.
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:
NJ Department of Health
The DOH website offers information and useful links relating to COVID-19:
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.
NJ Department of Education
The Governor has ordered all schools closed beginning on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Schools will remain closed as long as the Governor’s Executive Order remains in effect. With the profound affect this will have, we’re aiming to gain a greater understanding about the effect of school closings on special education services and advocate for all during this public health emergency.
We’ll share information, resources, and clarification as it becomes available.
- Additional topics requiring clarification:
- IEP Meetings
- Compensatory Services
- New Evals (for children turning 3)
- Transition Services
US Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education has issued the following document that offers some additional information:
- Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During a COVID-19 Outbreak
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a fact sheets aimed at ensuring that students’ civil rights are upheld while schools are closed due to COVID-19.
NJ Department of Children and Families
DCF offers some helpful links and resources on its website:
The following direct links may be of particular interest for providers:
- Guidance for Providers of Home and Community Based Services Operating Under Contract with the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (March 24, 2020)
- Telehealth Guidance (DCF is instructing providers to use Department of Human Services Temporary Telehealth Guidelines)
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 has established a central webpage for COVID-19 updates for Individuals, Families and Providers.
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.COVIDemail@example.com. 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 (3/18/20): NJ Human Services Works to Protect & Help Maintain Continued Benefits for Residents Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
NJ Department of Banking & Insurance
DOBI has created the following information for those with questions about insurance.
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.
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.
Federal Stimulus: How will it affect your Social Security
The House Ways and Means Committee offers a fact sheet with information about the planned stimulus checks and Social Security:
Two key takeaways:
- Like other tax credits, these payments do not count as income or resources for meanstested programs. 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.
- Social Security beneficiaries and SSI recipients who did not file a tax return may need to take additional action, such as filing an abbreviated tax return, to receive a rebate. This process is still evolving, and IRS is posting specific guidance at www.irs.gov/coronavirus
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Reminder: 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
- COVID-19 and Special Needs — The American Academy of Developmental Medicine & Dentistry (AADMD)
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.
- What Is An Employer To Do About Coronavirus? (Wilentz Attorneys at Law)
- Modifying Your Employees Work Schedule May Impact Their Health Insurance (Wilentz Attorneys at Law)
- Will Business Interruption Insurance Cover The Closure Of Your Business Due To COVID-19? (Wilentz Attorneys at Law)
- HHS Issues Section 1135 Waiver, and CMS Issues Blanket Waivers of Health Care Laws, in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency (The National Law Review)
BCBAs & More
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.
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.
These articles written by our staff may be of assistance:
- Supporting Individuals with Autism through Uncertain Times (University of North Carolina) (A comprehensive guide with activity schedules, visual supports, and more)
- Resources for Special Educators, Therapists, & Families (Links to free activity schedules, videos, social stories, and more from a variety of sources)
- Coronavirus Social Story (The Autism Partnership of Easter Seals Chicago)
- Plain Language Booklet on COVID-19 (Available in English and Spanish) (Green Mountain Self Advocates)
- TD Social Skills (Links to free videos, social stories, and weekly lessons for families)
- What to Do When Your Child on the Autism Spectrum’s Routine Is Disrupted by the Coronavirus (The Mighty)
- Coronavirus Share and Care Forum (National Council for Severe Autism)
- WEBINAR: Temporary Strategies for Avoiding or Reducing Problem Behavior in the Home Setting (Garden Academy)
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.
Here are some more links that may be helpful:
- Coping with the Stress of the Global Challenges of Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Behavior Therapy Associates)
- Calm offers free resources for mindfulness and self care
- To Parents of Children With Disabilities Trying to Stay Safe During This Outbreak (The Mighty)
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Employment and Financial Concerns
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Job Seekers: To learn more about who is hiring in your community, visit the NJ COVID-19 JOBS AND HIRING PORTAL
- Employers: Employers in critical industries (including those seeking DSPs) should submit information about openings with urgent hiring needs related to COVID-19 at https://jobs.covid19.nj.gov/intake.
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 email@example.com. You can also message us via our website, and we’ll aim to reply promptly.