Benefits of autism centers showcased in NJ

January 17, 2011 2:48:42 PM PST
At the Somerset Hills Learning Institute, children with autism get the training and nurturing that they need.

"We're able to magnify the learning process and consequences to help them be successful in learning academic, social, community skills, life skills," teacher Cara Gaffney said.

"I do some math and programmed reading. It's about a story... about stories in programmed reading," student Kyle Juliano, adding he likes it.

Governor Chris Christie has proposed autism centers in each of New Jersey's counties.

When he was a candidate, Christie visited Somerset Hills and met with its executive director, Dr. Kevin Brothers.

"This is a lifeline to a future of independence and productivity. Without this, children with autism will flounder and get worse," Brothers said.

The older children have a workout facility.

"I like doing upper body and lower body," Matthew Smith said. "I'm feeling better."

Educators say the right programs result in a savings for taxpayers.

"In the first 10 years of delivering our services, it cost us about 13 million dollars to deliver our services. In that same period of time, just by graduating students back to their regular education programs, as we did, we saved New Jersey taxpayers over 30 million dollars," Brothers said.

The state's community of autism professionals is now anxious for Governor Christie's proposal to become a reality.