Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Survey Response: Dorothy Engelman, Candidate for Utah House 74

Dorothy Engelman
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Dorothy Engelman, candidate for Utah House District 74.

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?

Yes, I'm surprised that a sunset clause was included in the legislation; I would definitely champion the coverage being continued if proving effective and manageable.

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
I believe educating the public and emergency personnel are powerful actions that would help address the issue of Wandering. This, along with training for first responders, is an important step in keeping our loved ones safe and should be a major focus.

The advances in technical solutions are encouraging and when elected, I will work to include these in insurance plans and grants.

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?

As a former educator who taught special needs & at-risk students, I am acutely aware of the need for expanding Utah's Special Ed offerings and will work with others in the legislature who are promoting this issue. Education is the path to success in life and this applies to ALL students!

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?

Yes. Safe, secure, affordable housing provided by a fulfilling job-and support when needed-is something desired by most people. As autistic children move out of the public school system, they should be able to find such employment and housing. 1,892 is an unacceptable number of Utahns waiting for service though the Utah Division of Services for People with Disabilities; I will work to make more funds and personnel available for these vulnerable folks through appropriations and grants. Additionally, I will review what other states have done to address this challenge.