Monday, February 1, 2016

Autistic young adult with a love of tech, but limited job prospects?

The 2016 Utah legislative session has begun.  Things start off with appropriations.  The following item is coming up within the next few days.  Other items coming up soon include BabyWatch/Early Intervention, Guardianship, and legislation affecting those with epilepsy.  Stay tuned!

Columbus Hub of Opportunity 

Columbus is a non-profit which helps individuals with disabilities live and work in the community.  Their current project is building a low income housing facility located at a transit hub.  Residents will have access to both TRAX and UTA bus lines, greatly increasing their independence.  The ground floor will provide retail space, including a grocery store.  

There are a lot of wonderful things to say about this project, but our focus at the UAC is autism and public policy.   Autism is a spectrum disorder that encompasses people with vastly varying abilities and constraints.  A significant part of this project is dedicated to serving people on a part of the spectrum.  The Columbus Center is seeking an appropriation from the state for about 3% of the cost of this project. 

A portion of the space will be devoted to young adults on the autism spectrum who have the potential to work in an IT field, but don't have the social skills to succeed in an interview and are unlikely to attend college.  For this project, they'll be teaming up with two established groups, one international and one local.

Specialisterne is a non-profit with the goal of finding employment for people with autism that takes advantage of their unique strengths. Here’s a video about it:

Neuroversity is a start-up with similar goals which grew out of research from the U of U. Here’s a video about it:

The Business, Economic Development, and Labor Appropriations committee will be presented with testimony about this project on Wednesday, February 3rd.  If you know of an autistic person whose life a project like this might impact or could have impacted, please let the committee know.  If you happen to be in a committee member's district, your voice will have much more resonance.  Please send them an e-mail, relating your story.  If the videos above seem helpful, please share them.

Members of the committee include:

Sen. Brian E. Shiozawa (R), Senate Chair
Rep. Dixon M. Pitcher (R), House Chair
Rep. Stewart Barlow (R), House Vice Chair
Sen. Curtis S. Bramble (R)
Sen. Gene Davis (D)
Sen. Wayne A. Harper (R)
Sen. Ann Millner (R)
Sen. Jerry W. Stevenson (R)
Sen. Evan J. Vickers (R)
Rep. Johnny Anderson (R)
Rep. Patrice M. Arent (D)
Rep. James A. Dunnigan (R)
Rep. Jeremy A. Peterson (R)
Rep. Val L. Peterson (R)
Rep. John R. Westwood (R)
Rep. Mark A. Wheatley (D)
Rep. Brad R. Wilson (R)  

To find your legislators, go to this link.  If you have a story to tell, but your legislators are not on the committee, please send your story to - we will forward it at the appropriate time or ask you to send it when it matters most.