Parents of adults with autism say they feel forgotten by Gov. Murphy as programs remain shut down
Many members of the autism community in New Jersey say that they feel forgotten by Gov. Phil Murphy because many adult day programs for those with disabilities remain shut down during the pandemic.
Parents are being forced to choose if they will stop working to stay at home and care for their adult children. This comes as other parts of the state are opening up.
“I work in the school system with special needs children. We’re open. [My son’s] program is not open,” says Mary Jo Christensen.
Christensen’s son Connor, 24, says he misses his day program. It is where he makes friends and learns life skills. He works at local restaurants. His mother says that he folds the napkins there.
Christensen says that Connor had a great life before the pandemic, but now he is confused, emotional and reduced to being stuck at home.
Connor and other adults like him are at the mercy of the state Health Department’s COVID Activity Level (CALI) report. New Jersey is currently measuring at a high level, which means that none of these adult programs can operate – even at a limited capacity.
“It seems like it’s an awful strict formula to be using for these programs, when in fact we have schools that are opening up,” says state Sen. Anthony Bucco.
Bucco is trying to put pressure on the governor to let people make their own decisions, especially for those fully vaccinated.
“They’ve got to balance the impact that this is having – the closure is having – versus the risk,” he says.
The Christensen family says that they are ready to try, even part-time. But they say that they feel like nobody is listening to them.
“The rest of the state is opening up. We can’t forget these guys and now they’re defenseless. So, we have to defend for you, Connor,” Christensen says.
News 12 New Jersey asked the state Department of Human Services about the CALI report and why the adult programs can’t reopen. But the department did not provide any specifics.