Thursday, July 10, 2014

Survey Response: Zach Robinson, Candidate for Utah House 49

Zach Robinson
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Zach Robinson, candidate for Utah House District 49.

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?

Zach Robinson:   Of course I would. This is important for all Utah families that have members of their families effected with Autism. This bill was a fight to get passed, and should be extended beyond 2019.

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
Zach Robinson 
As a firefighter for my community, I would overwhelmingly support training for emergency personnel. This would be tremendously beneficial for EMS personnel, teaching them skills when dealing with Autistic patients.

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?

Zach Robinson:   
It's no secret that the education system in Utah needs improvement. Special education in particular needs resources and on-going training not only for full time personnel, but volunteers and teachers aids. The system as a whole needs resources, and consistency. Each legislative session, it seems that there are some forms of legislation that changes the education system. This needs to stop, and let some of the policies in place actually come to fruition. As a legislator, I will listen to the teachers and give them the resources THEY need, as opposed to me and a legislator telling them what they need. I'm not in the classroom, but my children are.

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?

Zach Robinson:  
It appears that the system is working, but needs to be expanded to capture those 1,892 individuals that need assistance. I always support programs that will benefit all Utahns. As a legislator, that is what I am supposed to do.