11-Member Task Force Would Seek Ways to Improve Transportation for Adults with ASD
The full Assembly on Wednesday unanimously granted final legislative approval to a measure sponsored by Majority Leader Louis Greenwald and Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Daniel Benson, Marlene Caride and Nicholas Chiaravalloti to help better meet the transportation needs of New Jersey residents with developmental disabilities.
The bill (A-3432) would establish the “New Jersey Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder Mobility and Support Services Task Force,” an 11-member task force to study and make recommendations concerning the mobility and support services needs of New Jersey adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The task force would hold at least three public hearings concerning barriers adults with ASD face in using New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure and in accessing other basic services in the state.
“New Jersey has some of the best services for students with autism spectrum disorder, but for the approximately 70,000 adults with ASD, services are limited. There is a growing need in our state for transportation services so these adults can assert their independence and improve their quality of life,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “From education to employment to health care, having an accessible, reliable mode of transportation available makes every other facet of life easier. Convening this task force will allow the state to hear what adults with ASD need and address those needs accordingly.”
The legislation arises from a report issued by the Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation that included recommendations for improving the quality of life of the approximately 70,000 New Jersey adults with ASD.
“Since many individuals with autism spectrum disorder cannot drive, making sure they have full access to New Jersey’s public transportation system is crucial,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “This is about creating a space for adults with ASD, their families, transportation experts and disability advocates to come together and devise ways to make the system more equitable.”
“Adults with autism spectrum disorder can and do live full lives if they have the proper network of support,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Improving their access to transportation will entail not just looking at our transportation infrastructure itself but also making sure these men and women receive the training they need to walk or use public transportation to get to their destinations safely.”
“Much of the research on ASD is limited to younger populations, leaving us without adequate data about how to meet the needs of adults,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “A task force examining the specific concerns of adults – from transportation needs and barriers to post-secondary education – will help New Jersey provide adults with ASD with the best opportunity to succeed and become productive members of society.”
“As the parents of adults with autism spectrum disorder age and perhaps become less able to care for their children, they begin to worry about their kids’ well-being,” said Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). “One of the goals of this task force is to make sure adults with ASD can live independent lives and give their parents some peace of mind.”
The task force would be comprised of: the commissioner of the Department of Education, the commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, the commissioner of the Department of Health, the commissioner of the Department of Human Services, the commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the commissioner of the Department of Transportation, the Secretary of Higher Education and four expert members of the public, two of which would be appointed by the Senate president and two of which would be appointed by the Assembly speaker.
The task force would issue a report to the governor and the legislature within one year of its organization and would expire upon submission of the report.
The legislation now heads to the Governor’s desk.