Monday, September 8, 2014

Survey Response: Sabrina Petersen, Candidate for UT Senate 4

Sabrina Petersen
Candidates for the November 2014 elections were given the opportunity to respond to a few questions relating to autism. The following responses are from Sabrina Petersen, candidate for Utah Senate District 4.

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?

Sabrina Petersen:   


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
Sabrina Petersen 

I married into a family, who at the time, was going through the difficulties of dealing with an elderly relative who had Alzheimer's. I have some experience with the consequences of "wandering". Fortunately, he never got out the front door but received several sets of stitches from falling while wandering around the home.
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?

Sabrina Petersen:   

I have also been extensively involved in our public education system. Although, I have not had the need for special ed with my direct family, I have watched the struggles several friends have gone through with their children. These were friends who chose to mainstream their children (one with autism and one with Down's syndrome) and out them in the local public education system. While both had good results, it was only after many hours spent by parents, teachers, administrative staff, etc. to work for the end result.

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?

Sabrina Petersen:  

Yes, I would be supportive in researching ways to make this a more friendly and successful process in finding ways to support this group.