Programs Serving Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in New Jersey and Population Under 18 Years of Age

Published: 7 May 2024| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/jppzjfjvmy.1


Autistics endure fluctuating degrees of loneliness and isolation due to a lack of acceptance by society. It is essential to ensure that a wide range of sensory-friendly extracurricular activities is available as an outlet for socialization, discipline, and responsibility. The appearance of inclusive programs is not exclusively for autistics, but is rather welcoming to all. These facilities oftentimes accommodate people with other forms of neurodivergence, like ADHD, dyslexia, and OCD, as well as neurotypical individuals. This GIS makes the public aware of regions with sufficient quantities of programs and those with a void. The GIS provides guidance for parents, instructors, and autistics, including nonverbal individuals, to become more aware of sensory-friendly extracurricular activities in New Jersey. This visual representation also identifies and addresses regions lacking inclusive programs. This would allow future businesses to strategically plan the locations of facilities to better support the entire population. Upon analyzing county data, 24.5% of the Ocean County population was under 18. They had twice the number of inclusive programs than Passaic County, but only a 0.8% higher population of minors. Likewise, Cumberland County had a 6.3% higher population under 18 compared to Cape May County, but Cape May had 1 program while Cumberland County had none. After examining the census tract data, Monmouth County Tract 8015 had a population with 25.4% under 18, while the total county had 20.8% minors. A sufficient number of inclusive programs exists with 8 activities. Additionally, Somerset County, which had a 0.6% higher total population under 18 than Monmouth County, possessed 3 fewer programs. Providing guidance to identify facilities that meet the needs of both verbal and nonverbal autistics is of utmost importance. By locating programs in New Jersey that cater to all children, inclusivity and acceptance could be achieved. The dataset showcasing inclusive programs could be downloaded and accessed on Mendeley Data through Google Sheets, as well as PDF, and .csv files.


Steps to reproduce

The “Programs Serving Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in New Jersey” ArcGIS Online layer was established by obtaining data from a series of sources, edited to remove those permanently closed or not considered an extracurricular, and were then combined: - Organizations within “All Services” on Navigate Resources (n.d.) - The New Jersey Almanac’s Therapeutic Horseback Riding (n.d.) - Arc Family Institute’s Recreation Programs (n.d.) - NJ YMCA (2024) and Mommy Poppins (2022) Special Needs Programs - Individually chosen – Spectrum All Stars, Autism Movement Project, Performing Hearts, Dynamic Dance Academy, ATA Martial Arts (2024) These programs are sensory-friendly to autistic children, focusing on the following categories: horseback riding, recreation (other), the arts, sports, camps, Karate/Taekwondo, and inclusive partnerships. These data were geocoded utilizing ArcGIS Online to establish a visual representation of inclusive facilities. County information was later added. American Community Survey (ACS) Population Variables-Boundaries were modified and shown on top of the first layer to perform a demographic analysis on ArcGIS Pro. The population under 18 was selected for and displayed within tracts containing inclusive programs. This map also featured the total population for all tracts. The goal was to learn the importance of location for each program, considering that the facilities are geared towards youth. A separate GIS features activities and county percentages under 18 to identify program voids.


Drew University


Autism Spectrum Disorder, Demographics, Extracurricular Activity