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Jan Handleman and Susan Arlen Endowment for Autism Education

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Jan Handleman

For Lauren Handleman '05, childhood summers unfolded as a series of unforgettable apprenticeships with her father, a pioneer in the field of autism spectrum disorder, who engaged her in his groundbreaking efforts to integrate once isolated students into the social, academic and work lives of their communities.

The longtime director of the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center (DDDC) and professor of psychology, Dr. Jan Handleman, played a pivotal role for more than three decades in raising public awareness of autism, unlocking the potential of students across the spectrum, and founding critical outreach and support services for their families. Lauren assisted her father in diverse settings - from beach outings, to home visits, to classrooms - where she was continually inspired by "what one man could accomplish."

Dr. Handleman (1951 – 2008) was a graduate of Rutgers University where he earned his B.A., M.A., and Ed.D. For 11 years Jan served as president of the Board of Education of Solomon Schechter School of East Brunswick. He co-authored and edited several books including: School-age Education Programs For Children With Autism; Behavioral Assessment of Severe Developmental Disabilities; Educating the Developmentally Disabled: Meeting the Needs of Children and Families; and Preschool Education Programs for Children With Autism. Dr. Handleman was a pioneer in the field of autism, and he devoted his life to helping individuals with autism. He passed his love of his work onto his daughter Lauren, who now works with children with autism.

When Jan died in 2008 following a chronic illness that sometimes confined him to a wheelchair but never dimmed his passionate advocacy, she thought: "How do I keep my father and his work alive?"

Three years later, Lauren and her fiance, Geoffrey Arlen, answered that question by establishing the Jan Handleman and Susan Arlen Endowment for Autism Education to support the trailblazing programs at the Douglass center that her father helped to build. Designed for maximum flexibility, the endowment provides funding for graduate students pursuing cutting-edge research and supports new technology that will help children communicate more effectively.

"Lauren and Geoffrey's generous gift will allow us to support the greatest need in a given year, which is as good as it gets," said Dr. Sandra Harris, the DDDC's founder and executive director, who called the endowment a wonderful tribute to a her longtime colleague, whose determination "to expand the array of services we offer" and innovative outreach succeeded in changing lives.

The vision for the Fund is to improve the quality of education and life for children and adults affected by autism at the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center. The endowment will support children and adults with autism spectrum disorders and their families by providing funds for the best education, research, training, and teaching programs and strategies.

Support for the Handleman Endowment will enhance our ability to expand programs and services to children, adolescents, and young adults in New Jersey and across the United States. Your gift will help to expand our research and service programs in on our on-site school as well as increase our school-based and home-based outreach and intervention services, providing for psychological treatment, outreach, and collaboration with the most prestigious universities and researchers in areas pertaining to autism research and treatment. Private support facilitates the transfer of knowledge and expertise related to leading-edge educational and behavioral treatment and service to the next generation of practitioners, increasing the numbers of our undergraduate and graduate students who will seek professional careers in working with those living on the autism spectrum.

Please consider joining with us to help meet the complex educational and behavioral health needs of our children, adolescents, and young adults living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.


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