Thursday, June 13, 2019

Rutgers Begins Construction on Adult Autism Services' Facility in New Brunswick

by John Jordan
Rutgers University has announced the start of construction on its new Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services building here.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the $9.5-million project on Monday. The university notes that the building, when completed next year, will be the first of its kind at a higher education institution in the United States. The new building will allow the center to more than double its capacity from 12 to 30 participants. The center, located on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers University-New Brunswick, is being financed by philanthropic funds.
“This center will have a lasting impact on the lives of adults with autism in New Jersey and across the country,” Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi said at the groundbreaking event.

The Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services was founded in 2016 and serves adults with autism by providing meaningful, paid employment and integration into the Rutgers community. The new facility will include vocational and life skills teaching areas, high-tech meeting rooms and amenities intended to provide a welcoming environment for program participants and other members of the surrounding community, including Rutgers students, faculty and staff, the university states.
Mel Karmazin, the former CEO of Sirius XM Radio, was a key leader in fundraising for the project along with his daughter Dina Karmazin Elkins, executive director of the Mel Karmazin Foundation. Dina Karmazin’s son, Hunter, was diagnosed with autism at age two, and the Karmazin Foundation has been active in autism causes.

“What would be a better place to house a center that would create jobs for adults on the spectrum than a college campus?” Mel Karmazin said at the groundbreaking.

Christopher Manente, executive director of the center, says, “The RCAAS exists to stand for those adults on the spectrum who are not always able to stand up for themselves, and whenever possible it also exists to amplify the voices of those who can.”
He adds, “Today, I call on all of you to stand with us in opposition to the lack of awareness and the general indifference that the rest of the world continues to show in response to the crisis impacting adults with autism and their families. Today, I ask that all of you help us change the world.

Autism and autism spectrum disorder are among the fastest-growing developmental disabilities in the United States. Rutgers-New Brunswick’s Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology created the center to address the well-documented shortage of quality services that help adults with autism lead meaningful and productive lives, and to conduct research that can inform the development of other programs for adults with autism.

Rutgers-New Brunswick is a leader in autism research facilities. RUCDR Infinite Biologics, containing the world’s largest collection of autism biomaterials, and the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, which includes an on-campus K-12 day school for children with autism from across New Jersey, are among many research and educational programs for autism at the university.

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