Public Policy Priority: Severe Challenging Behavior

Individuals with autism who experience severe challenging behavior face increased barriers to care and wellbeing due to the overall risk of injury to the individual or others. When an individual with autism engages in severe challenging behavior, the impact can be all consuming. The physical and emotional health of all family members is constantly at risk. A behavioral crisis can be days, weeks, months, or years of repeated instances of dangerous behavior, leading to the necessity for intensive intervention.

Unfortunately, there are insufficient treatment options for severe challenging behavior. Autism New Jersey recognizes that increasing public and private capacity to adequately serve individuals with severe challenging behavior requires navigation of a complex state system related to funding, treatment, and long-term service provision. Thus, we are analyzing state policy, best practices, and the experiences of families and clinicians to better quantify the scope and depth of the problem and make comprehensive recommendations to improve state policies.

Current Focus

Autism New Jersey led advocacy efforts to secure or enact:
State funding to work collaboratively with the New Jersey Department of Health and the New Jersey Department of Children and Families’ Children’s System of Care (CSOC) to develop a severe challenging behavior prevention program.
ABA Advisory Committee in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Children and Families’ Children’s System of Care (CSOC) and provided ongoing technical assistance to CSOC and providers of intensive in-home (IIH) services to strengthen ABA services for youth with severe challenging behavior.
P.L. 2017, c. 291, which limits the use of restraint and seclusion techniques used in schools.
CSOC’s plan for intensive residential services designed to serve children with severe challenging behavior.
Recommendations to DDD’s initiatives to improve statewide capacity, so that adults with severe challenging behavior can access timely and effective treatment.