NEW BRUNSWICK - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that autism rates in New Jersey are increasing. 

This has caused federal officials to push for more funding to help families in the Garden State. The CDC says that 1 in 41 children in New Jersey are diagnosed with autism.

In New Brunswick Friday, children and young adults with autism were taught some new skills at Rutgers University’s Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center. Those skills will help them live an independent life.

“We have particular challenges for young adults with autism, people graduating from school who then will not necessarily have meaningful things to do during the day, but are capable of being engaged and productive,” says Dr. Deborah Spitalnik, center director.

Autism experts say that even as researchers look into the causes of autism, it is important to protect the future of programs and services for individuals with the disorder.

Rep. Frank Pallone visited the center Friday to mark the beginning of Autism Awareness Month. He says he's pushing for it to receive more federal funding.

“With proper diagnosis these kids can get help and develop life skills and job skills that allow them to be out with the rest of the public and not just staying home,” he says.

The exact cause of autism isn’t known. Experts believe it is likely a mix of genetic and environmental factors.