Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Survey Response: Amy Morgan, Candidate for Utah House 11

Amy Morgan
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Amy Morgan, candidate for Utah House District 11.

Insurance Coverage:   SB57 was passed in the 2014 legislative session. It goes into effect on January 1, 2016, and among other things, will require individual and large group plans to cover a limited amount of behavioral therapy for autistic children through age 9. The bill has a sunset clause which will cause it to expire on January 1, 2019. 

Would you support renewal or expansion of SB57 if the costs prove to be manageable?

Amy Morgan:   Most definitely.

WanderingWandering (or elopement) is an issue that affects around half of children with ASD, as well as many people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. There are substantial costs involved with search efforts that often require emergency personnel. There are also promising technologies, such as smartphones, GPS, and Bluetooth, which can help with tracking these individuals. 

 Would you support efforts to:
  • better understand the extent of the wandering problem in Utah
  • promote training for emergency personnel
  • identify technological solutions and help make them affordable for caregivers
Amy Morgan Yes. There is always the question of how to find additional or sufficient funds for any proposed effort, but I feel efforts that educate and protect are surely worth funding.

Education: Education is a priority for many UAC members. Kids on the spectrum often require special education resources.

What do you see as the current state of the Utah education system, including Special Ed, and what steps would you support to improve it?

Amy Morgan:   
As has been the case for many years, our current education system is facing, among many other issues, continual growth and the need to try and keep up with it. This means an increase in the needs for Special Education resources as well. We have got to find a way to accommodate and keep up with the cost of growth. Special Education resources should never be on the cutting board, in my mind. I cannot pretend to be an expert on this issue, nor can I pretend to have all the answers. It is near and dear to many hearts, and it is these voices that we should listen to most closely. The parents and teachers of those with special needs should be those to whom we go to, and work with, for answers when improvement is needed.

I do not have an answer that would be the bandaid big enough to fix everything. But I am willing to listen to those who know more than I do, and I'm willing to work with others to find a way to make things as good as they can be for all of our children!

Housing and Employment: When autistic people transition out of the public school system, many of them need help with housing and employment. According to the 2013 Annual Report of the Utah Division of Services for People with Disabilities, Over 5,000 Utahns received services, and 80% of them had an intellectual disability. Another 1,892 Utahns are on the waiting list.

Would you support steps to improve housing and employment opportunities for individuals with autism?

Amy Morgan:  Yes. I also support measures like the ABLE Act of 2013 (H.R. 647) which is referenced in a letter from Jim Matheson on the UAC website. This bill allows tax exempt savings accounts that would not count against disability benefits, thus adding additional financial security for individuals and relief to their caregivers and/or families. I feel we should do all we can to provide better employment and housing opportunities, regardless of any physical or mental disabilities that may exist. Those with limits still have much to contribute to society and deserve options that meet their needs.