A Moral Imperative
Spectrum360 is facing a familiar challenge: the need to expand the scope of our services to meet the needs of the increasing population of adults with autism and related disabilities. Our Capital Campaign, Strengthening the Connection, will fund an enlarged Independence360 facility, which will allow us to expand social and vocational opportunities for current and future adults on the spectrum. We need generous donors who understand and promote the value of all individuals in our society to help our program foster competency and potential. Our current facility is full and without this expansion, graduates of our educational program and other adults in the community will languish at home without any programs or services. Currently, there are no state or federal funds available to secure and renovate a facility, or acquire needed equipment, materials, and vans.
Since Spectrum360’s inception, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to meet the challenge of providing an increasing number of individuals on the autism spectrum with the programs and services they require and deserve. Autism is a lifelong developmental disability affecting learning, communication, social skills, and behavior. Today, 1 in 34 children in New Jersey is diagnosed with autism. In response to this critical increase, over the past five decades, we have expanded to meet their emerging challenges and needs. We developed a Preschool, Middle School, High School and a Young Adult Program for students 18 to 21. We continue to grow to meet demand and we are currently expanding our upper school by 20,000 square feet.
For Spectrum360, creating an adult program became a moral imperative. We found that many of our graduates, as well as other adults on the spectrum, remained isolated and regressing at home, due to the dearth of appropriate programs and the lack of public funding to develop new programs. To address this need, in 2012, we opened The Center for Independence, now known as Independence360. In 2016, due to our growing adult population, we acquired a separate facility in Whippany, approved by the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities, to initiate a day habilitation program to help our adults develop life, social and prevocational skills. To provide employment placement and support, Independence360 also gained approval from the NJ Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Within the past three years, the need for services has steadily increased and our facility has become overcrowded.
While children with autism eventually age out of educational services, adults never age out of the need for continued services. As a result, there is now a greater demand for Independence360 services than our present location can accommodate. It is extremely difficult to turn away adults who have no place else to go.
We must raise $738,000 to make the expansion of our current facility a reality. This addition will allow us to ease the current overcrowding at Independence360, accept more clients, and increase and expand the services we offer.
We cannot succeed in making this growth a reality without significant support from our Spectrum360 family and the community at large.
It is said that a nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members. Partner with us to make Strengthening the Connection a reality and open our doors to adults with autism who critically need the program and who would otherwise have little opportunity to reach their full potential as members of the community.
Video: The story of two individuals… one who attends Independence360 and another who does not. See how our programs truly make an impact: