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He continued, "All I’ve heard from the autism community since then is criticism of the pilot program."
He added, "And I would hope that if we get some form of mandate passed this session, that’s not the reaction we get from this community. We’re up here, we’re doing the best we can, we’re imperfect. But we did something phenomenal last year and I’m just tired of being criticized for it."
18,532 balls to represent autistic children
A display of 18,532 balls, representing the number of Utah children with autism, will be installed at the Utah Capitol Rotunda Friday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. The Utah Autism Coalition is creating the ball pit using a giant container built by Home Depot and plastic balls from Toys R Us. The group will also distribute jars with 639 gumballs to each state senator and 247 balls to each representative, representing the average number of autistic children in their districts.
Outside the hearing, House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said, "We’re pretty committed to seeing [the pilots] go forward ... to seeing how that plays out over two years."
While crediting the Legislature for acting last year, Shiozawa predicted the results of the pilot will show the therapy works.
"All we will have done … is to deny this therapy in this critical time for a very vulnerable portion of our population," he said. "This is the time to act."
Cari Brown said her 3-year-old son, Craig, was accepted into a pilot and has been receiving ABA therapy 24 hours a week. His progress has been "nothing short of phenomenal," she said, but she worries about what will happen when the pilot ends.
"An insurance mandate would eliminate these concerns," she said.
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