(http://le.utah.gov/~2012/htmdoc/sbillhtm/sb0138.htm) was introduced with the potential to kill our bill even before it ever had a chance to be heard. I was extremely impressed by the response of our community and the desire to do everything it took to make a difference. Being a part of this was a roller coaster proposition, with eager anticipation, to fear and back again, but I believe our position has been made perfectly clear, no matter what happens we won’t take this sitting down.
In the past few weeks of this up and down process, there has been the range of emotions; panic, anger, disappointment, joy, etc. Now, those who know me well know that I despise politics and find our process frustrating, often dirty. I really don’t want to lump everyone into the “dirty”category because I know there are those in our political system who are very good people holding true to the idea my hero set forth, “A government of the people, for the people, by the people (Abraham Lincoln).” That said, politics is a necessary evil and our system is better than anything else and should be respected for what it is, our system and one that we must respect. But I digress, let’s get back on point. About two weeks ago, I received a call from a friend of mine who is working on the passage of HB 69 with news of a new proposal, one that had been negotiated over the week preceding this point. At first I was frustrated, discouraged and entirely disappointed. I found myself asking more questions than we had answers for like how would this impact the community here in Utah, would it provide the services these kids really need, or was this an “easy out” for representatives? Well, I felt maybe it was best to sit back a while and see what this was all about.
Thanks to my lovely bride who kept me in the loop during my business trip out of town, although I was disappointed by the new bill HB 272 (http://le.utah.gov/~2012/htmdoc/hbillhtm/hb0272.htm), I’ve come to a conclusion that must be stated. Here are the facts, it is completely understood that there are sweeping changes all across the nation where insurance mandates are being passed to provide families the help they need. You can go to AutismVotes.org and view the green states that have gotten it right, enacted law and done the right thing, passed legislation. You can see that the sweep, although slow might be just a matter of time before our entire country addresses this huge need, maybe even with the “Obama Care” to roll out in the next few years. Fact number two is that as a community, we simply want the equal treatment for our kids, we are not asking for a “free meal” as has been suggested by some, we want the opportunity to allow our kids to get the treatment they need to grow into the tax paying, productive citizens we know they can become. Tax paying citizens that will contribute to our economy, not become a drain on a system that is already at a breaking point.
So, what do I think of this latest bill that has been proposed? Well, there are two things that are positive. As of today, the bill suggests that this will help as many as 800 kids in the early stages of need, ages 2 – 6. If this bill passes, this is good and much needed. As our system is currently constituted in Utah, this is 800 more kids than would have been helped previously. This is awesome! The second positive piece of this is it is a start. It’s a launching point and it will provide the potential of 800 kids to illustrate the success of these therapies. There are rumblings that this need is now getting the attention it needs and that cannot be discounted as well. That said, does this bill help everyone? Absolutely not, but neither did HB 69. What this does is puts us closer to getting a long term, fair and equitable solution for all kids, all individuals on the autism spectrum. That proposition gives me reason to be optimistic. Is it a perfect system, the answer is no, but when is there ever a perfect system.
In closing, the fact is we are not done! We cannot take this as an ultimate defeat although it might be easy to do so. This is an opportunity to push for more, push for equality and push for a better solution for our kids. We must continue to ensure our voice is heard and we do not result to sitting back and waiting for this to come to us. We must continue to take autism to our representatives and show them the need we have. This is our opportunity to bring about awareness one person at a time, or as I like to say #awareness1by1. I’m here to tell you Utah, we are not done! We will not be silent on this matter, we
will see a better solution; it will simply take time. Take this opportunity to continue speaking with your representatives, be involved and speak out for not only your child, but any child with autism. Some of our kids do not have a voice, they need us to be that voice for them. Commit to being that voice! Commit to creating change!