NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Rutgers University’s Medical School was awarded $550,000 to study childhood autism and developmental disorders in New Jersey.

This grant is part of $20 million the Center of Disease Control and Prevention is allotting to autism monitoring centers across the United States. This funding will be allotted in a four year cycle.

By accepting this money, Rutgers University is joining the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network and will work with them to estimate the number of children with autism throughout the United States.

University of Minnesota, University of Vanderbilt, John Hopkins University, and several other research universities are also in the network.

“We believe that the ADDM Network data can be used in communities across the country to help children with autism and other developmental disabilities live to the fullest,” said Dr. Colleen Boyle, of the CDC.

Rutgers will also research school-age children receiving autism support services, and why there has been such a dramatic rise in autism diagnoses.

“It’s vitally important to monitor changes in the average age of diagnosis to see if we’re identifying and getting services to kids earlier,” said Michael Rosanoff, epidemiologist and the director of public health research for Autism Speaks.

“It’s also crucial to maintain ongoing monitoring of prevalence over time and among different groups to better understand why prevalence is increasing and why we see differences among communities.”

The project’s research will focus on pre-school aged children, with the goal of creating early intervention techniques.

Most cases of autism can be diagnosed by the time the child is two, but children typically are not properly diagnosed until the age four, on average.

By implementing strategies to diagnose earlier, children can begin therapy and integrated learning techniques at an younger age.

According to the CDC, one in 45 children are placed on the “autism spectrum” in New Jersey. The national rate is one in 65 children.

Congressman Frank Pallone, who represents New Brunswick, stated, “We must take on autism as the urgent public health concern it is, especially in New Jersey.”

“For years, Rutgers has been a leader with regard to autism research, and this latest award will allow their invaluable research to continue.”

Reporter at New Brunswick Today