HUNTINGTON - Armed with shovels and donning hard hats, officials broke ground today on a new housing project in Huntington aimed at improving the lives of children with autism.The two new residential facilities will be part of the Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI), a not-for-profit group which offers an educational program for special-needs kids. The buildings will house 24 autistic children between the ages of 5 and 12. Officials say the housing project will bring some local disabled children who were placed out of state for care closer to their families."The parents have the opportunity to visit their children, be part of their children's lives," says John Lessard, of the DDI. The $8 million project was funded by the New York State Department of Education. The money will be used not only to build housing, but also to upgrade the classrooms. The project is set to be completed next year. About 100 children with autism from Long Island are on a waiting list to get into special residential facilities.