Innovative Approach

"The RCAAS holds extraordinary promise for multidisciplinary collaboration in education, training, and research approaches to autism, and we are strongly committed to supporting this program, to be located on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers-New Brunswick, and its potential to accelerate discovery that will ultimately improve the quality of life for individuals and their families living with ASD."

Richard L. Edwards, Ph.D.
Chancellor, New Brunswick Campus

The challenge is clear: experts and families agree that despite millions of dollars in research funding to study the underlying causes of autism, there is an acute lack of services to support adults with ASD. The Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services intends to demonstrate how universities can become part of the answer by providing a model that integrates academic research, student training, and comprehensive community inclusion of adults with ASD.

The center's work will focus on two core on-campus programs:

  • a Workday Program, providing 50 to 60 adult participants with prevocational, vocational, and recreational opportunities; and
  • a Pilot Residential Program, providing residence and services for 20 adult ASD participants who will live alongside 20 Rutgers graduate students and work on campus.

The center will provide customized vocational and residential services for adults with ASD, situated within integrated community settings, while equipping Rutgers students with the clinical and professional expertise desperately needed to support this underserved population. The center will also serve as a hub for Rutgers’ interdisciplinary research collaborations on the subject of adult autism, yielding the translational research outcomes needed to inform public policy and best practices in meeting the needs of adults with ASD for years to come.

RCAAS will draw upon Rutgers’ extensive resources in autism research and support, putting them into practical action centered on three objectives:

  • providing unmatched services for adults with ASD in an inclusive and integrated community;
  • establishing a centralized location for academic research by leveraging and expanding on the university’s existing interdisciplinary resources in the area of autism;
  • developing comprehensive clinical training and educational programs to prepare Rutgers students to meet the needs of adult clients with ASD in the future.

This kind of integrative service, research, and training program is unmatched anywhere; as such, the center will serve as a model for organizations around the world that seek to rise to the challenge of providing services to an ever-increasing number of adults with ASD.