News Release

Kessler Foundation researchers receive $400,000 in funding for autism research in New Jersey

The New Jersey Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism awarded a two-year grant to study disparities in health service use among children on the spectrum

Grant and Award Announcement

Kessler Foundation

logo for New Jersey Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism

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Credit: Kessler Foundation

East Hanover, NJ. September 12, 2022. Scientists from Kessler Foundation received a two-year grant for $399,368 from The New Jersey Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism, New Jersey Department of Health, for a front-line analysis of health services for autism spectrum disorders in the state. The study is titled, “Racial, Ethnic, Language, and Geographic Disparities in Autism Health Service Use among Children in NJ: Assessing Longitudinal Trends of Services Gaps and Cumulative Disadvantage.”

The three investigators are Yu-Lun Chen, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, and Amanda Botticello, MPH, PhD, assistant director, both of the Centers for Spinal Cord Injury and Outcomes and Assessment Research, and Helen Genova, PhD, associate director, the Center for Autism Research

Children on the autism spectrum require timely, comprehensive, and ongoing health services, defined as medical services and therapies to support positive, lifelong health and development. However, research shows that Black and Hispanic autistic children and children with limited English proficiency receive fewer autism health services compared to non-Hispanic White and English-speaking children, placing them at risk for poor health and development.

“These service disparities may accumulate and perpetuate inequities into adulthood, limiting independent living and employment,” explained Dr. Chen.

“To promote health equity among children on the spectrum, there is an urgent need to better understand the longitudinal trends and the social determinants of racial/ethnic and language disparities in autism health services,” said Dr. Genova. “These include the role of neighborhood social and economic differences, school and health resources, rural and urban location differences, and racial/ethnic composition,” she added.

“Our project will assess longitudinal racial/ethnic and language disparities in autism health service use in NJ and examine the role of the social determinants of health in disparities in autism health service use,” concluded Dr. Botticello.

Kessler Foundation partners with Children’s Specialized Hospital on pediatric rehabilitation research that improves the lives of children and adolescents with disabilities. The project will leverage the collaboration and research infrastructure between Kessler Foundation and Children’s Specialized Hospital, which have been established through multiple projects in the Foundation’s Center for Outcomes and Assessment Research and the Center for Autism Research.

Funding: The New Jersey Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism (CAUT23APL011).

About The Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism
The Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism has been issuing research, clinical and educational enhancement grants since 2000. The Council’s vision is to enhance the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder across their lifespans. The Mission of the Council is to advance and disseminate the understanding, treatment, and management of ASD by means of a coordinated program of biomedical research, clinical innovation, and professional training in New Jersey. For more information, visit

About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes – including employment – for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit

For information, contact:
Deb Hauss, senior staff writer, 973.324.8372,
Carolann Murphy, senior medical writer,

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