News Archives 2013


BACB Develops New Entry Level Credential

December 11, 2013
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) announced recently standards for their newest credential – the Registered Behavior TechnicianTM (RBT™). The BACB’s Board of Directors authorized the development of this new credential to establish training standards for behavior technicians, the paraprofessionals who implement behavior plans directly with clients. The RBT credential will complement the BCBA-D, BCBA, and BCaBA credentials as an entry level program that reflects the education and training necessary for the duties of a behavior technician. “The development of this credential will have huge impact on the field and service delivery,” noted Autism New Jersey’s Executive Director, Suzanne Buchanan, Psy.D., BCBA-D. The BACB will begin accepting applications for the RBT credential in mid-2014. More details about the registration process will be available at in 2014.  Learn more in the BACB’s December 2013 newsletter>>


Autism New Jersey Participates in Autism Speaks Public Policy and Action Summit in Washington, D.C.

Autism NJ and NJ’s autism community are very fortunate to have the support of Senator Menendez Cory Booker. Pictured with Suzanne Buchanan and Deb CharetteNovember 15, 2013

On November 13, Autism New Jersey participated in  the “Autism Speaks to Washington” summit. The event included an exciting line up of keynote speakers and presentations unveiling Autism Speaks’ enhanced state and federal advocacy strategy, groundbreaking advances in science and research, and a full discussion of the barriers to, and opportunities for, addressing the housing needs of those with autism.

"We were pleased to be able to attend the Summit and connect with other autism leaders from around the country," Said Executive Director Dr. Suzanne Buchanan. "We were particularly excited to get the chance to connect with our New Jersey congressional representatives and to be a part of the national dialogue about important policy issues such as housing and insurance that are of particular interest to our members and families here in New Jersey."  Read more>>


Autism New Jersey Participates in the National Policy and Action Summit in Washington, D.C.

November 12, 2013

Autism New Jersey Executive Director Dr. Suzanne Buchanan and Public Policy Coordinator Deb Charette have been invited to participate in Autism Speaks’ first-ever national policy and action summit in Washington, D.C. on November 12-14. “Autism Speaks to Washington” will bring together leaders from across the country including top Obama Administration officials, members of Congress, governors, prominent scientists and policy experts, key stakeholders, volunteers and activists to focus on a national strategy on autism.

Speakers include legislative champions Senator Robert Menendez and Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, as well as Rep. Mike Doyle (Pa.) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Several other top lawmakers and experts in the field of autism advocacy and research are expected to attend.

The summit will include a review and analysis of a National Housing Survey commissioned by Autism Speaks, which examines what autism families want and need for the future of their children.

Autism New Jersey is one of the state’s leading advocacy organizations for nearly 50 years. “We are excited to be an invited participant of this event,” says Dr. Buchanan. “Autism New Jersey has focused its information dissemination and public policy efforts in the area of housing needs for quite some time and we look forward to addressing the challenges and opportunities for New Jersey’s autism community at this summit of national leaders.” Learn more>> 


Senator Menendez Convened a Panel Discussion on Disability Rights Treaty

October 24, 2013

New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez convened a round-table discussion on the Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), hosted by the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation Conference Center in West Orange. As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Menendez viewed the disabilities treaty as a very important issue to solicit input and support from a variety of stakeholders within the disability community.

The CRPD provides a framework for the rights of individuals with disabilities across the world, based on values of dignity, respect, independence, and reasonable accommodations. The CRPD, which is based on American constitutional values and guidelines set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act, would set a standard that would benefit people with disabilities in other countries, as well as Americans with disabilities traveling and working abroad.

Eric LeGrand (pictured right), a retired American football defensive tackle who played college football at Rutgers, was an honored guest. Eric became paralyzed during an October 2010 game, but has since regained movement in his shoulders and sensation throughout his body.

Suzanne Buchanan offered comment to Senator Menendez during the round-table discussion. “I just wanted to personally thank you for your commitment to behavioral health initiatives for autism in federal legislation. Thank you for your leadership promoting the ideals of this Convention. I think with our collective support you will be successful in seeing the treaty ratified. And it is my hope that this Convention will provide a vehicle to discuss not only human rights, but also access to science-based intervention for individuals with autism to improve their basic quality of life. Thank you for your leadership."

Support the Disability Rights Treaty

The Senate needs to fight for 1 billion people with disabilities around the world by supporting ratification for the CRPD. Click here to ask the Foreign Relations Committee to support the Treaty.


Autism New Jersey Announces Gino Valiant as New Board President

October 1, 2013

Board President Gino Valiant (left) and Immediate Past President Jim Paone (right) at Autism New Jersey's 15th Annual Golf OutingThe Board of Trustees of Autism New Jersey elected Genare (Gino) Valiant as its new President at its September 16, 2013 Board Meeting, effective October 1, 2013. Gino, who joined the board in 2008 and most recently served as Vice President, said, “It is a privilege to be elected as Board President of this exceptional organization. I’m incredibly proud of the work Autism New Jersey has done to help families like mine. As we approach our 50th Anniversary, we are filled with more promise and potential than ever. We continue to make great strides in public policy, education and training, awareness and information services, and are poised to do even more to support New Jersey’s autism community.”

The father of four sons, including an 18 year old with autism, Gino and his, wife, Dara, wrote about their experiences with Autism New Jersey in our 2009 Annual Appeal letter. Gino, with his brother and cousin, is a third-generation owner of Valiant Home Remodelers of Carteret New Jersey. For his complete bio, click here.

Gino succeeds James A. Paone, II, whose term ended on September 30, 2013. Jim will be remaining on the Board’s Executive Committee as Immediate Past President. "On behalf of the Staff and Board, I would like to express our deepest appreciation to outgoing President, Jim Paone,” notes Gino. “He is a tireless parent and leader who brought fervent dedication to advancing the mission of Autism New Jersey and will continue to be an active member of our family. His shoes will be difficult to fill."

The following officers round out the 2013-2014 Executive Committee elected at the September 16 meeting: Vice Presidents: Mary Jane Weiss, Ph.D., BCBA-D and Kathleen Moore; Secretary: S. Paul Prior, Esq., Treasurer: James Grasselino. Autism New Jersey is also pleased to announce the appointment of Sean Nelson as a new board member to a three year term. For a complete list of Board Members, click here.


Organizations Meet to Discuss Enhancing Government Recognition for the Profession of Behavior Analysis and ABA Services

October 1, 2013

On October 1, 2013, the New Jersey Association for Behavior Analysis (NJABA), Autism New Jersey, and leaders in the field discussed opportunities to enhance government recognition for the profession and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services. Joining via video conference from California, Dr. Gina Green, Executive Director of the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA), shared developments from other states and outlined how NJABA and Autism New Jersey could work together to promote the BACB credentials here in New Jersey. Read more>>


Autism New Jersey Welcomes the Director of Constituencies Office of the Governor

August 29, 2013

Dr. Suzanne Buchanan, Autism New Jersey Executive Director, and Vinny Napolitano, Director of Constituencies Office of The Governor

Autism New Jersey was pleased to welcome Vinny Napolitano, Director of Constituencies Office of The Governor, to its Robbinsville, NJ office on Thursday, August 29. Mr. Napolitano had the opportunity to meet with Autism New Jersey's staff and learn more about the agency’s upcoming events and initiatives. The conversation topics ranged from the Governor’s events such as the Autism Awareness Breakfast at Drumthwacket and multiple Town Hall meetings, to Autism New Jersey’s Annual Conference, plans for its 2014 Ambassador Program, and its efforts to increase insurance reimbursement for medically necessary services. “We value the role Mr. Napolitano plays in facilitating our work with the Governor Office,” said Autism New Jersey Public Policy Coordinator Debbie Charette. “Mr. Napolitano’s commitment to serving the autism community is evident in both his words and actions.”


New Funding for Autism New Jersey Helpline Included in State Budget

July 10, 2013


$250,000 to preserve and strengthen proven resource for families

Governor Christie, Senator Weinberg, Assemblyman Greenwald, Senator Kyrillos and Health Commissioner O’Dowd Champion Inclusion of New Budget Language 

Autism New Jersey, the State’s largest autism-specific advocacy organization, announced recently that the State Fiscal Year 2014 Budget signed into law by Governor Chris Christie includes language that will provide $250,000 in new state funding to preserve and strengthen the “Autism New Jersey Helpline.”  The new budget provision was sponsored in the Legislature by Senator Loretta Weinberg, Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, and Senator Joe Kyrillos, and strongly supported and advanced by Governor Christie and his administration. Additional legislators supporting the request for funding included Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt and Assemblyman Dan Benson.

"The Helpline yields thorough and thoughtful answers to the many perplexing and life-altering questions that otherwise would simply go unanswered. This is a unique and vital resource in New Jersey, and we cannot thank the Governor, our stalwart legislative champions and Commissioner O'Dowd enough for their advocacy on behalf of the autism community,” said Dr. Suzanne Buchanan, Executive Director of Autism New Jersey.

"The Autism New Jersey Helpline has literally transformed tens of thousands of lives for the better. I know because it changed my life, and my son’s,” said James A. Paone, II, Esq., Autism New Jersey’s Board Chairman.

Operational since the 1980s, the Autism New Jersey Helpline (800.4.AUTISM) provides information to more than 30,000 unique website visitors and personally answers 3,500 phone calls and emails each year. Staffed by trained specialists, the Helpline is the place families in New Jersey turn at their most vulnerable moments.  It encompasses more than just a phone number. It is a call center, website, referral lists, and informational publications; services that guide parents through the most important decisions they make for their child at every life stage.  

Governor Christie signed the State Fiscal Year 2014 Budget on June 28, 2013. Included in the Department of Health section of the Budget, at the request of Assemblyman Greenwald and Senators Weinberg and Kyrillos and with the support of Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd, was a new provision that allocated $250,000 from the Autism Medical Research and Treatment Fund to the Autism New Jersey Helpline. Autism New Jersey will be working with the Department of Health to advance this initiative and thus preserve this unique resource for families for the coming year.

Autism New Jersey represents the interests of, and serves as the voice for, thousands of individuals and families from across our state who are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). For several decades, it has been an integral part of a powerful public-private partnership with the State of New Jersey. The programs and initiatives we operate allow those with autism to have access to relevant, evidence-based information and compassionate support when they need it most.  The Helpline is a core part of that mission.  

If you wish to thank the Governor and our legislative champions, please click the following links:


Autism New Jersey Connects with Department Commissioners in Rare Joint Meeting

June 1, 2013

Jonathan Sabin (OAS), Deb (Autism NJ), Commissioner Velez (DHS), Suzanne (Autism NJ), Commissioner O’Dowd (DOH), Amy and Commissioner Blake (DCF)

Trenton, NJ -- Autism New Jersey had the rare honor of meeting with three New Jersey Department Commissioners on May 31, 2013:   Dr. Allison Blake, Commissioner of Children and Families; Mary O’Dowd, Commissioner of Health; and Jennifer Velez, Commissioner of Human Services.   Throughout their lifespan, New Jersey residents with autism will likely receive services from each of these key departments.  (Click here for more information.)  This forum provided Autism New Jersey with a special opportunity to express the unique needs of the autism community and reinforce our commitment to evidenced-based practices and creating access to quality services.  

With the significant system changes and reorganization the State has recently undergone, the opportunity to meet as a group was timely and productive.  It signified a commitment at the highest levels to ensuring the needs of the autism community are heard.  

“An open dialogue and collaboration with these state departments is key to our ability to help families and professionals understand the nuances of the service delivery system and access the support needed,“ noted Amy Perrine, Autism New Jersey’s Director of Information Services.     The Commissioners agreed.  “It is important to note that this partnership has been invaluable in the transition. Autism New Jersey has a clear understanding of the work that is necessary to meet the needs of youth on the spectrum. This knowledge has helped the Division of Children's System of Care (CSOC) conceptualize the work necessary to create a responsive system of care to address the unique concerns of youth on the spectrum ,” noted Commissioner Blake.  (Note:  The CSOC is a Division within the Department of Children and Families.) 

“The Commissioners each demonstrated genuine attentiveness and responsiveness to the issues discussed, especially as it related to the unique needs of individuals with autism and the qualifications of those professionals who work with them,” explained Autism New Jersey’s Executive Director, Dr. Suzanne Buchanan.  “Real change requires leadership and commitment.  This was clearly on display at our meeting.” 

Among the key issues addressed: 

  • Early Intervention:  Cost savings from and research on early and intensive Applied Behavior Analytic (ABA) services.
  • Personnel standards for Behavior Analysts
  • Crisis Intervention:  The need for behavioral crisis and stabilization centers within hospitals (e.g., Johns Hopkins’ Kennedy Krieger Institute)
  • DDD/CSCO Transition

We wish to thank the Governor’s Constituencies Liaison, Vinny Napolitano, for his role in facilitating this meeting.  We will continue to keep our members and stakeholders informed of relevant news and information as a result of our partnership with these State entities. 


Autism New Jersey Announces New Executive Director
May 14, 2013

Autism New Jersey is excited to announce Suzanne Buchanan as its new Executive Director. Dr. Suzanne Buchanan is a licensed psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst - Doctoral (BCBA-D).   She has been a committed staff member and has provided the agency with clinical leadership for more than 10 years.  Suzanne brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding to her new position.

“The Board of Trustees is both proud and pleased to have Dr. Buchanan as the Executive Director of Autism New Jersey.  We are confident that under her leadership and guidance Autism New Jersey will continue flourish as New Jersey’s leading voice on behalf of all members of the autism community,” said Board President Jim Paone. “The Board looks forward to working with Suzanne and the wonderful staff at Autism New Jersey to achieve great things on behalf of all of those that the Agency serves.”

With nearly 20 years of experiences in the autism field, Suzanne has interests in family resilience, informed decision-making about autism intervention, and contributing to the development and implementation of state policies that impact the autism community and the professionals who support them. 

“In the summer of 1993, I met a child with autism who changed my life - personally and professionally,” Suzanne reflected. “I was in awe of his and his family’s challenges and their resilience. They gave me my life’s work and passion. Now, as a psychologist, behavior analyst, statewide advocate, and Executive Director of Autism New Jersey, I will continue to do everything I can to empower families and professionals, increase access to evidence-based intervention, and enhance New Jersey’s public and private capacity to support individuals with autism.”

Click here to read Dr. Buchanan's bio.


APA Issues 5th Edition of DSM

May 18, 2013

On May 18, 2013, The American Psychiatric Association released the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).  As previously reported, the new edition will bring significant changes to the way autism is diagnosed. For example, the term, “Autism Spectrum Disorder” will now be used instead of autism, Asperger's Disorder, and PDDNOS. Diagnosticians are also expected to note the level of support an individual needs as a result of the disability. The DSM changes may temporarily affect insurance billing and impact access to services.  As always, please contact us at 800.4.AUTISM or email if you encounter any problems and need assistance.  Read more>>


Family Support Services via DDD -- Important Information for Families

Deadline for Service Continuation April 12, 2013

April 10, 2013

On January 22, 2013, The Division of Developmental Disabilities’ (DDD) eligibility regulations changed. These changes now require that individuals must become Medicaid eligible as a condition of continuation of DDD funded services. If an individual is receiving services through DDD and has not yet established eligibility through Medicaid, they must immediately do so or risk losing services.

Currently DDD will continue to fund all current on-going family support services through June 30, 2013. Families wishing to continue these services beyond June 30, 2013, must call their DDD contact which is either their DDD Case Manager or the Division of Disability Services (DDS), by this Friday, April 12, 2013. Approvals will be provided by June 21, 2013.  Based on the new DDD Medicaid requirement, all requests for a Family Support service after June 30, 2013, will be approved based on a demonstrated level of need and all Medicaid eligibility requirements being met.

For more information and information on how to apply for Medicaid please click here.

There has been some confusion generated by the letter as families with children under 21 served by the Department of Children and Families through PerformCare believe that this pertains to them as well. It does not. If their child is under 21 and receiving services through the DCF Children's System of Care, they do not need to be calling DCF or Performcare to continue to receive services. This letter only pertains to individuals over 21 receiving family support services through DDD.


Autism New Jersey Testifies at Insurance Committee Hearing

March 7, 2013
Trenton, NJ -- In response to community concerns about insurance carriers’ inconsistent compliance with provisions of the state-regulated healthcare plans, a hearing was convened by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee on Thursday, March 7, 2013. Committee Chair Gary Schaer, (D-36), Passaic, presided over testimony of family members and advocates, including Autism New Jersey and attorney Jodi Bouer, as well as Ward Sanders, an insurance industry spokesperson. Chairman Schaer promised a second hearing in six months and acknowledged Committee concerns that the issues discussed were substantive.

If you are having problems accessing insurance coverage, please call us at 800.4.AUTISM.

To read Autism New Jersey's Testimony, click here.  

To read Sue Livio's coverage in the Star Ledger, click here.


Governor Christie Announces Settlement of Olmstead Lawsuit

February 26, 2013
Trenton, NJ -- In his annual State Budget Address, Governor Christie announced a settlement of the Olmstead lawsuit brought by Disability Rights New Jersey against the state. 

Today, I am proud to announce that we have settled an eight-year-old Olmstead lawsuit with Disability Rights New Jersey. The suit claimed that New Jersey was not complying with U.S. Supreme Court mandates to allow people with developmental disabilities to live in the least restrictive and most appropriate setting. In response, we have increased funding for community-based services; we have reduced the waiting list for in-home supports and services, and we have expanded group homes and supported living options.

We all know New Jersey’s sad history of over institutionalization. We have institutionalized more citizens than any state other than Texas. It is shameful. It is ineffective. And, in this Administration, it is ending. We are allowing people with disabilities to live where they and their families want them to live: at home, in the community, among family and friends. So this suit is settled.

But to continue this progress, my budget includes $83 million for community placements and services for those with developmental disabilities.

To read the full text of the Governor's address, click here.  

To read DRNJ's statement on the settlement, click here.


Governor Holds Special Breakfast for New Jersey Autism Community

April 11, 2013
Princeton, NJ -- Hosting an event to honor Autism Awareness Month at Drumthwacket on Thursday, April 11, 2013, Governor Chris Christie stated that he is personally committed to advocating for individuals with autism and their families in New Jersey. Accompanied by Department of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez, DDD Deputy Director Dawn Apgar and DCF Deputy Director for Programs and Services Jeffrey Guenzel, the Governor urged the autism community to be a 'united force' and to involve legislators in their advocacy to support needed programs.

Parents and advocates articulated the urgent needs of the autism community and emphasized the importance of enhancing the capacity of the adult service system. The Governor responded he is intimately aware of the problems and is actively working on systemic improvements. Commissioner Velez responded enthusiastically as audience members described their successful efforts developing employment opportunities and offered the support of the Department of Human Services. Concerns regarding educational services and after-school care were also raised. The Governor responded to each concern by explaining the context in which these systems operate and that he is working with his Cabinet to maximize the resources the State Budget affords. In addition to lamenting the State’s finite resources, the Governor expressed his frustration with the slow pace of educational reform and the lack of flexibility in how school districts are funded.

Autism New Jersey Directors Dr. Suzanne Buchanan and Bob Titus were among the invitees, along with former Autism New Jersey Board President, Dr. Michael Aquino, Board Member, James Grasselino and Autism New Jersey members and valued supporters Anthony Kelly and Kelly Milazzo.


Governor's 2014 Budget Address Reinforces Commitment to Autism

March 11, 2013
Trenton, NJ -- In his 2014 Budget Address given to the Senate and Assembly on February 26, 2013, Governor Christie reaffirmed his commitment to the autism community and outlined several key funding provisions and announcements.  Read more>>


New DDD Eligibility Rule Could Affect Eligibility

February 2013
The Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) issued a new rule that went into effect on January 22, 2013 requiring all individuals 21 and older, who are eligible to receive DDD services, to now also be Medicaid eligible by March 23, 2013 or the individual is in danger of losing services.  Read more>>


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