Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Survey Response: Emmanuel Kepas, Utah Senate District 15

Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Emmanuel Kepas, candidate for Utah Senate District 15.

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?

Emmanuel Kepas:    
Yes I would support the renewal and expansion. Utah has the highest Autism rate per capita in the U.S.A.

Harvard University has directly linked Autism to Air Pollution, when the child is growing in their mother's womb.

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
Emmanuel Kepas Yes, yes, and yes.

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?

Emmanuel Kepas:   

I am a Licensed Secondary Teacher. Overall I am impressed with the level of services available for students with Special Needs. I am open to improvement considerations. 

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?

Emmanuel Kepas: 
Yes. We need expedited processing of these children and adults request's for assistance. Often they are mentally unstable without medication or have difficulty functioning in many levels of society and at home. Care is better and less expensive if treating the patient then waiting for catastrophic events to occur. 

My 21 yo son is Autistic and receiving services. I am very aware of the strengths and pitfalls in our present services.