Turning to Utah, after a positive move through committee, S.B. 055 appeared to have a real chance of becoming a reality, passing by a 5 – 2 vote. For many in this community, this was a sign that the acceptance and awareness was there and the next step was to simply hold insurance companies accountable and stop this discrimination. Senator Shiozawa did an excellent job at stating his case, the autism community showed up in support and in a level headed fashion, pleaded our case of why this bill was important. Those in opposition of the bill voiced their concerns, but never once were really able to state their case as to why this was not good for Utah. That was three weeks ago. At the end of last week, S.B. 055 was also given the “heave-ho” in its original form with not enough votes to make it through (http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/55924650-90/autism-bill-coverage-http.html.csp) . For myself and my fellow autism mom’s and dad’s, this was a hurtful blow. Personally, it leaves me angry, disappointed and frustrated that Utah is once again failing families instead backing the multi-million dollar insurance companies.
Politics however has given a blow to the gut to the autism community on a federal level through what is known as the “Sequester” process. As you may have seen, over the weekend Autism Votes released a report on what the “Sequester” will do to the autism community, the impact these “cuts”, often called “unnecessary and arbitrary”, will have on everyone (http://www.autismspeaks.org/advocacy/advocacy-news/sequester-here-now-what) . This leaves an entire community, 1 in 88 nationally, in a dire situation. It leaves kids with autism without the necessary support in the school systems due to layoffs, possibilities of homelessness due to rental assistance drying up and the lack of necessary support for employment assistance, but if you listen to the news both parties justify the cuts, pointing fingers at the opposing parties. Disgusting.
Here are the facts; autism is not a political issue. Autism is not a Republican or Democrat issue. Autism is however an issue that needs the world’s leaders attention. With today’s current financial situation, pushing the use of social programs or in many cases, slicing them down to nothing is not the answer. Honestly, I’m not sure that I could give you an answer that is reasonable and works, but what I can offer you is the fact that our community, the autism community, needs the rights and respect that we deserve. The autism community cannot be continually be told that their care and their access to proven therapy is denied, and furthermore, their services will be cut because of a lack of bipartisanship cooperation. It’s nothing short of unacceptable that politics plays such a large role in simply doing what is right. Unfortunately, our community has a long distance to go before being fully accepted and that is truly a shame.