Autism Mandate summit, broadcast venues in St. George, Cedar City

Background: Holland Centennial Commons building at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah | File photo, St. George News

SOUTHERN UTAH – A summit geared toward apprising Utah residents about a new law that will affect people diagnosed with autism will be broadcast on the Dixie State University campus as well as Southern Utah University campus in an effort to keep more Southern Utah families informed.

The Autism Mandate Summit is being held in Lehi at Adobe headquarters from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Monday. It is designed to teach Utah residents about a law that will go into effect Jan. 1, 2016 that mandates health insurance coverage for people with autism.

In addition to the main location, the summit will also be broadcast in different locations throughout Utah. In St. George, the broadcast and resource fair summit will be held the Zion Room on the fifth floor of the Holland Centennial Commons at DSU, 225 S. University Avenue (click here to reserve seats). In Cedar City, it can be viewed in the Sharwan Smith Student Center at SUU, 351 W. Center St. (click here to reserve seats).

Many of the satellite locations will also offer resource fairs along with the broadcast.

The summit is sponsored by UTBS Heart, the Utah Autism Coalition, Autism Speaks, Affinity Autism Services, Adobe and many others.

Co-CEO of Utah Behavior Services, Sarah Sanders said:

We are especially excited to bring this national level of expertise and information directly to local families via the Adobe satellite broadcast technology and our live text hotline for questions. Parents will be able to hear and participate in every presentation, including the question and answer panel session, from the sites at Dixie State and SUU. Parents in St. George and Cedar City need this same information about their health insurance and coverage for treatment of children with Autism, but it’s not often made available to them in remote areas

The St. George broadcast and resource fair summit is facilitated by Dannelle Larsen-Rife, who holds a doctorate and is an associate professor of psychology at Dixie State University.

“This summit is especially important because Utah has consistently had one of the highest rates of autism diagnosis in the country, with approximately 1 in 54 Utah children receiving a diagnosis,” Larsen-Rife said. “Participants will learn how to access and navigate the health care system to meet their children’s mental and physical healthcare needs.”

Parents who raise a child diagnosed with autism devote huge amounts of time, resources and energy to helping their children. Resources are expensive and insurance coverage varies drastically from state to state and from plan to plan.

“I have seen families sell their homes, take second jobs, or move out of state to be able to provide medically necessary services for their child,” Natalie Whatcott, co-CEO of Utah Behavior Services, said. “As providers, we can sometimes donate services in extreme cases, but the real solution is to fund them the same way every other medically necessary service is — through health insurance.”

UTBS Heart, an affiliate of Utah Behavior Services, is a newly formed nonprofit organization that supports families struggling to connect to local autism services.

A reservation is required to attend Monday’s summit. Reservation information can be found here.

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