Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Survey Response: Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, Utah House 37

Rep. Carol Spackman Moss
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, of Utah House District 37.

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?

Carol Spackman Moss:   
Yes, I would support the expansion and renewal of SB57. The benefits of early intervention are well documented. If intervention starts early, the benefits can be life changing and long lasting, both for the child and the parents. Not only is quality of life enhanced, but also the cost for special education is reduced, the emotional and physical cost to parents is lessened, and the family’s financial burden is lightened.

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
Carol Spackman Moss 
Yes, I would support all three efforts. More and better training is essential to preventing needless injury and death. Empathy and understanding are traits that cannot always be taught, but clear procedures for dealing with individuals who are frightened, sometimes non-verbal, and combative are necessary tools for emergency responders.

Certainly, technology today includes tracking devices that will help find wandering children with ASD. They should be widely available and affordable or covered by insurance.

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?

Carol Spackman Moss:   
I would do what I have always done since first elected, propose and advocate for more funding for public education. For teachers to be highly effective, they need smaller classes, more support personnel like para-professionals, and aides. Too many special ed students are not getting the full range of services because of personnel cutbacks. The stumbling block for more funding is the Republican majority who refuse to consider any means to increase revenue.

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?

Carol Spackman Moss:  
Yes, I would. More group homes and more training, particularly in the technology area, would provide some on the spectrum to have opportunities for full or even part-time employment. It is being successfully done in other parts of the country. Supervised independent living settings would better serve many individuals with ASD and give their families some respite from fulltime caregiving.