Thursday, July 10, 2014

Survey Response: Nick DeLand, Candidate for Utah House District 42

Nick DeLand
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Nick DeLand, candidate for Utah House District 42.

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?

Nick DeLand:    Of course I would support renewal and expansion. My younger brother is an autism specialist who works with children all over the world. I believe his work to be admirable and SB57 was overdue.

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
Nick DeLand Of course I would support these efforts.

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?

Nick DeLand:   
Admittedly, I am not well versed in Special Education and ideas to support or improve it. I do believe that our education system in Utah is in need of less control by the legislature and more control by those who are a part of the education system. I also believe that additional funding must be identified and allocated to public education. Whereas my understanding of charter schools in the state is also limited, I wonder if it would be feasible for a charter school to specialize in education for kids on the autism spectrum.

As I mentioned previously, my brother is a specialist and I would seek input from you folks, from him, from my cousin who has two young daughters on the spectrum, and other parents and educators for a viable, common sense solution.

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?

Nick DeLand:  I believe that there are many purposes for government, one of the most important is to help people. There are those advocates in legislatures and Congress who are advocates for big business and the wealthy. I will be an advocate for families such as those you represent; they are a part of my family too.