*Willingboro, NJ: New facility because autism numbers are up; better recognition in NJ

June 27, 2018, Willingboro, NJ, Burlington Cty Times: Rising autism rates change roles for parents, providers A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show autism rates rising across the country, and especially in New Jersey, which has changed some roles for parents and service providers…. One reason the organization decided to move its services to the Walton Avenue property was to handle the growing number of students who need help. “We were at capacity in a lot of our programs until we moved to this facility. So now we finally have some opportunity to grow. We were busting at the seams in our last school,” said Tracy Kettering, director of Bancroft’s Applied Behavior Analysis Center of Excellence. The newly-opened complex includes the Bancroft School, which instructs about 265 students with autism as well as intellectual and developmental disabilities; campus residences for 44 students; and the specialized Lindens Neurobehavioral Program, for up to 30 students with severe autism.... About 1 in 34 children in the state has autism, according to data gathered in 2014, in contrast to 1 in 59 across the country, according to the CDC study published in April. That’s an almost 20 percent increase in the state’s average since the last study on data from 2012, released in 2016. ... Officials say the rise in diagnoses can be partially attributed to the fact that New Jersey and other states have gotten better at recognizing the early signs of autism. “There’s definitely a combination of the population is growing and diagnosis is getting better,” Kettering said. “Some of the reasons why the rates in New Jersey are higher is that we have professionals, parents and caregivers that are more aware of it, and are better detecting it and getting diagnosed. That being said, there probably are some environmental or genetic factors that are contributing to higher rates both in New Jersey and across the country.” Some of those factors include genetic differences or mutations; neurobiological factors, such as problems with the development of certain brain structures; differences in the brain’s response to the environment; and potential factors like exposure to drugs and environmental toxins and dietary factors, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association…. In Burlington County, the number of autistic children between 6 and 21 increased from 870 in 2015 to 973 in 2016, according to data from the New Jersey Department of Education. Statewide, the number has increased steadily, from 4,624 in 2002 to more than 18,400 in 2016. That has required school districts to provide more services to address the needs of students like Briana, or send them to schools such as Bancroft. Students can be referred to the Bancroft School through their school district and their participation is paid for by the local district, according to Kettering…. Funding for special education, with some coming from special education aid, has increased in the past few years. Burlington County received $39.9 million from the Department of Education during the 2015-16 school year, $40.3 million in 2016-17, and a proposed $43.1 million for 2018-19, contingent upon approval of a state budget…. As the number of children with autism increases, awareness of it also has grown, making it easier for families to take their children to places like movie theaters and parks, which they may have avoided in the past, Kettering said. “I think the increased awareness gives an explanation for the mom that’s struggling with their child at the grocery store that might be having a tantrum or engaging in challenging behaviors,” she said. More organizations also are making an effort to make accommodations….