Friday, July 25, 2014

Survey Response: Rep. Patrice Arent, Utah House 36

Rep. Patrice Arent
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. Patrice Arent, of Utah House District 36.

Patrice Arent:
In addition to the information requested below, I did want to note my work on improving our air quality. I am the founder and co-chair of the Legislature’s bipartisan Clean Air Caucus. In that capacity I have become aware of the studies linking autism and air pollution. Clearly this is just one of the many reasons that we need to improve our air quality.

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?

Patrice Arent:
I supported SB 57. Assuming it is as successful as I anticipate, I would certainly support the renewal or expansion of this important legislation.

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
Patrice Arent 
Yes - it is important to thoroughly understand the issue, make sure our emergency personnel have adequate training, and identify affordable solutions.

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?

Patrice Arent:
Utah has not adequately funded education for many years. I strongly support efforts to improve all aspects of public and higher education, including Special Education. I have a number of family members and friends who teach Special Education students. They have helped my understand the serious need for more resources. I have also worked with a number of special needs students and know that they need more individualized help in our school system.

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?

Patrice Arent: 
Yes - I have always supported improving both housing and employment opportunities for all people with special needs.