The Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services will be located on the university’s Douglass Campus in New Brunswick and aims to help 60 adults, who are living off campus, with university jobs.
The second phase of the center will offer a pilot residential program for 20 adults who will live on campus alongside Rutgers graduate students, in an integrated apartment-style residence, as well as work on campus.
Rutgers President Robert Barchi said the university intends to demonstrate how educational institutions can become part of the answer by providing a model that integrates academic research, student training and community inclusion of adults with ASD, Rutgers said in a statement.
The project also responds to a growing need as experts have estimated 500,000 children with autism in the United States will soon reach adulthood.
A total of $35 million is needed to fund the project, of which 50 percent of phase one has been met, Rutgers said.
The building for phase one, slated to open in fall 2018, will include the workday program as well as staff offices, professional kitchen equipment, computers, conference rooms and life skills teaching areas. It will also be located within walking distance of amenities on campus such as the student center, bus services and recreational facilities.
“Rutgers has tremendous autism expertise and unmatched services that can be employed to create a model unlike anything that currently exists,” Barchi said in a prepared statement. “The Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services will become a hub, yielding the most advanced clinical and applied research in support of adults with autism. Ultimately, the findings that grow out of our work will help inform education, intervention and public policy.”
The project is partly funded privately from former CEO of Viacom, CBS and Sirius XM Radio, Mel Karmazin, and his daughter, Dina Karmazin, executive director of the Mel Karmazin Foundation. Dina Karmazin’s son, Hunter, was diagnosed with autism at age 2, and the Karmazin Foundation has been active in autism causes, according to Rutgers.
“The Rutgers center will offer adults with autism a one-of-a-kind support program that makes independent living and a fulfilling life possible,” said Mel Karmazin in a prepared statement. “It will rise to the challenge of giving program participants the tools they need to achieve their potential — from earning a living to navigating social interactions to building meaningful relationships.” ”