Friday, May 31, 2013

Announcement: New UAC President!

It is with mixed emotions that I publish this post. Today I am resigning as the President of the Utah Autism Coalition. This experience has stretched and blessed me in ways I could never have imagined.  Serving alongside so many strong individuals has reassured me that there is so much good in this world, despite the serious challenges our community continues to face. As I move forward with new adventures, I am reassured by that fact that we will be led by the capable hands of Jon Owen, who has accepted the position of President of the Utah Autism Coalition.

Jon was born and raised in rural Tennessee. He has an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and a Master of Computer Science degree, with an emphasis on computer vision. While at the University of Utah studying computer science, Jon met his wife Juliette. The two of them moved to North Carolina where he developed computer games and she studied law and public policy. Upon her graduation, they moved back to Utah to raise their two sons. When their second son was diagnosed with autism around age 2, Jon became an active member of the Pingree Parent/Staff Association and the Utah Autism Coalition. We are fortunate to have him offer his time and talents to lead this community forward in accomplishing our goal of ending health insurance discrimination against children with autism in Utah.When I asked Jon for his thoughts on taking on the role of UAC President, he provided this comment:

"I can vividly recall three moments in our journey with autism.  The first was the diagnosis. The second was learning that there were evidence-based treatments that could help our son. The third was learning that our insurance wouldn't cover any of the treatments.  Except for other parents in the autism community, I haven't encountered anybody who can really understand what those moments felt like to me.  UAC has given me a way to do something for my son and the thousands of other people like him.  What we're fighting for is one small change to our state's rules that will make a huge difference for very little cost.  As a result of Mirella's leadership, we are well-positioned to push for that change."

I have undying confidence that through our relentless efforts, individuals with autism in Utah affected by autism will be able to access the medical treatments that will allow them to live extraordinary lives. I want to thank this community for all of your support and I look forward to serving alongside you in the future. I will remain an active member of the Utah Autism Coalition and ask each of you to join me in congratulating Jon and offering him your full support as we persevere on behalf of individuals and families affected by autism in Utah.


Mirella Petersen

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

2013 Summer Social

WHEN: Thursday, July 11, 2013 5:00pm until 7:00pm

WHERE: Sugar House Park: 1400 East 2100 South, SLC UT. Sugar Beet Pavilion – Located near the amphitheater in the southeast corner of the park.

WHO: Families and individuals affected by autism spectrum disorder and their legislators.
WHAT: Meet your politicians and share your concerns for families and individuals affected by autism. Enjoy some fun with bounce houses, face painting, clowns, sensory activities and crafts, a balloon launch, food and much more!


Please help us by passing this information along!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Autism Blog Post from Utah Congressman Jim Matheson (UT-04)

Last night we had a great event put on by The Home Depot for Utah families affected by autism. Congressman Jim Matheson was kind enough to come by and meet our kids and hear our stories. This morning he sent me the following blog post about his experience at this event that I'd like to share it with you:

"Wednesday, I was honored to meet with Utah families and children affected by autism. With one in 47 children in the state diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, Utah has one of the highest autism rates in the country. In my role as a representative of our state, it is a priority to me to dedicate time and efforts in Washington to raising autism awareness and supporting research to understand and treat the disorder.

During my time in this job, it has been a privilege to have met with countless Utah families, teachers and health professionals and to have heard their perspective and their stories about raising children with autism. I have visited the special education classrooms where dedicated teachers work with children who have been diagnosed as autistic, as well as met with families desperately searching out medical options for their children. There is no substitute for hearing these firsthand accounts and they have shaped my understanding of autism as well as underscored the work we have to do together to better understand the disorder and to manage both short and long term opportunities for these children in our state. Specifically, I have learned that we must focus efforts on analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data, prioritizing research, and tailoring paths for learning in order to help these families create a future for their children.

As a member of the Autism Caucus in Washington, I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who to seek more answers about this disorder, how it affects families and what we can do to support children living with autism. I support responsible and reasonable federal funding for medical research which has long proven the key to breakthroughs in treatment and effective care.  Late last year I joined my House colleagues on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to ask questions of a panel of experts regarding research findings of increased rates of autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that one percent of the population between the ages of 3 and 17 has an autism spectrum disorder.

That being said, awareness is only the first step. We must take thoughtful, collaborative measures to improve the diagnoses and treatment of autism."


Jim Matheson