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 email@example.com 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.
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
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:
JUST ANNOUNCED: On June 12, the State announced that ESY services can commence as of July 6, 2020. Read the new guidance here
NJDOE Broadcasts offer information and updates directly from the DOE
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:
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.
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.COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org. 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
NJ Department of Banking & Insurance
DOBI has created the following information for those with questions about insurance.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com
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.
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
- 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.
- CDC’s General Business FAQs
- 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
- BACB COVID-19 Updates
- APBA Guidelines for Practicing Applied Behavior Analysis During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Central Reach is offering free CEs
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.
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.
Our team has curated resources and tools that may be useful for learning from home:
More free resources:
- 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. NJDOL Benefits and the Coronavirus (COVID-19): What You Should Know – The site offers a helpful printable guide (in English and Spanish) to help determine your options.
- Supporting Individuals with Autism through Uncertain Times (University of North Carolina)
- Resources for Special Educators, Therapists, & Families (Curated via Smore.com)
- 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)
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:
- 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)
- Podcast: Managing Children with Autism while Sheltering from COVID-19: Advice for Parents (Kessler Foundation)
We’ve collected a few resources for self-advocates looking to connect.
- Spectrum of South Jersey / A.S.P.E.N. (YASJ) You can join their private Facebook Group if looking to connect with other self-advocates or contact Meaghan at firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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. Archived webinars are available.
- 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 email@example.com
Employment and Financial Concerns
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also message us via our website, and we’ll aim to reply promptly.