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State Autism Profiles: Utah

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In 2000, 642 or 1.20% of children ages 3-21 who received special education services in Utah have autism. In 2014-2015, 5,193or 6.70% of children with disabilities ages 3-21 who received special education services have autism.

Table 1-1: IDEA Part B - Children with Autism in Utah for 1999-2000 and 2014-2015
(Child Count by Age Group)

Age 3-5



Age 6-21



Age 3-21



Source: Reported by the State of Utah in accordance with Section 618 of IDEA to U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs

Table 1-2: IDEA Part B - Children with Disabilities in Utah for 1999-2000 and 2014-2015
(Child Count by Age Group)

Age 3-5



Age 6-11



Age 12-17



Age 18-21



Age 6-21



Age 3-21



Source: Reported by the State of Utah in accordance with Section 618 of IDEA to U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs


Utah Registry of Autism and Developmental Disabilities (URADD)
On March 14, 2008, Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. signed into law H.B. 263, creating a two-year autism advisory board. URADD is a project designed to identify and help persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The program tracks the number of people in Utah who suffer from ASD and helps to provide information to the public about the disorder. It also provides information and training to families and educators about resources for helping people with these disorders. Finally, URADD helps in the search for causes and cures of ASDs. The registry continues to collect information about the number of individuals in Utah who have autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. Changes in ASD prevalence are studied in specific places and populations over time.


On April 1, 2014 Governor Gary Herbert signed S.B. 57 into law health insurance coverage for the treatment of autism spectrum disorder. The law requires health benefit plans offered or renewed in the individual market or large group market, on or after January 1, 2016, to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder for children two to nine years of age. Regulated health plans must cover pharmacy, psychiatric, psychological, and therapeutic care, as well as behavioral health treatments, including applied behavior analysis (ABA). Coverage for behavioral health treatment will cover at least 600 hours a year. The law states that all other terms of the insurance plan relating to deductibles, provider networks, and cost sharing apply to the autism coverage. Finally, the insurer has the right to review autism treatment once every six months. A provider may seek a waiver from the state if the provider can show that adding autism coverage has caused a 1% or more increase in premiums. (UT Code 31A-22-642)

The 2014 session also lead to autism program amendments in H.B. 88 which requires the Department of Health and the Public Employee and Insurance Benefit Program to each provide ongoing programs for the treatment of qualified children with autism, two to seven years of age. First, the Department of Health will use a Medicaid waiver to establish a program that provides treatment for autism spectrum disorder. The program must accept applications during periods of open enrollment. The department will convene a public process with the Department of Human Services to determine the benefits and services the program will offer, including effective treatments, methods to engage family members in treatment, and outreach to qualified (emphasis added) children in rural and underserved areas of the state. An annual report will be sent to the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Interim Committee no later than November 30 of every year. (UT Code 26-18-407; 26-52-102)

Additionally in H.B. 88, the Public Employees’ Benefit and Insurance Program established the Autism Spectrum Disorder Treatment Program. The program must offer qualified children proper diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, treatment plans by qualified mental health professionals, applied behavior analysis, and an annual cost shared maximum benefit of $30,000.

In 2012, the state established three autism pilot programs in Medicaid: one for up to 100 children from the private sector, non-Medicaid population paid through the Utah Autism Treatment Account and partially funded by private money; one for the 200 children in the Medicaid population supported by $4.5 million in Medicaid funds, and one for up to 50 children of state employees administered by Public Employees' Benefit and Insurance Program Act. For example, Utah’s Medicaid pilot provided children with 20 hours a week of ABA in their homes along with respite care, for a total cost of $30,020 per child per year. Pilot administrators tracked the cost and effectiveness of the treatments and reported their results.

Another of the pilots, the Autism Treatment Account (ATA), provided children with ASD, 2 to 7 years of age with access to intensive behavioral services using ABA, an evidence-based therapy. Through the ATA, the Utah Department of Health contracted with four ABA providers. A total of 49 children received services during the pilot program. An Autism Treatment Account Advisory Committee was also created. This six member committee presided over the Autism Treatment Account and the services it funded. The pilot program ended in June 2104 with the final report as of September 2014. No further services are being offered under the pilot.

Limited coverage also may be available under the mental health parity law. Utah requires health insurance coverage for “catastrophic mental health conditions,” or provides coverage for at least 50% of covered services for diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions as defined in DSM-IV. The law further specifies that mental health conditions do not include some conditions, such as a specific developmental disorder, when diagnosed as the primary reason for treatment. (UT Code §31A-22-625)


Utah’s benchmark plan does not include autism services or ABA in its Essential Health Benefits package. The benchmark plan covers autism screening for children at 18 and 24 months under “preventative care.” Its exchange is being run by the federal government.
(Public Employee’s Health Program; Utah Basic Plus)


Beginning in fall 2015, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) related services are available to individuals in Utah Medicaid under 21 who qualify for the Child Health Evaluation and Care (CHEC) program, Utah’s Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and treatment (EPSDT) program in Medicaid.

Utah Home and Community-Based Services Waiver: UT Community Supports Waiver for Individuals w/ID and Other Related Conditions
This waiver, implemented on July 1, 2010, provides day supports, homemaker services, personal care services, residential habilitation, respite care, supported employment, waiver support coordination, financial management services, behavior consultation services, chore services, companion services, environmental adaptations, extended living supports, family and individual training and preparation services, living start-up costs, massage therapy, personal budget assistance, PERS, professional medication monitoring, specialized medical equipment, supplies, and assistive technology services, supported living services, and transportation for individuals of all ages with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities. This waiver expires on June 30, 2020.

Utah Home and Community-Based Services Waiver: UT Autism
This waiver, implemented on October 1, 2012, provides respite, financial management services, intensive individual support-consultation and support-direct services for individuals ages 2-6 with autism. This waiver expires September 30, 2020.


In March 2015, S.B. 270 was signed into law, amending the Carson Smith Program Awards Scholarships, which provides students with disabilities the ability to attend a private school. The scholarships provide funds for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual and developmental disabilities. The 2015 amendment expands the scholarships to those from preschool to grade 12. Scholarship money is dependent upon money designated by legislature from the General Fund.

Utah Special Education Rules states that all children who meet the guidelines for special education are required to have educational services. According to the law, autism is defined as a developmental disability that affects communications and social interactions. Autism, generally evident before the age of 3, is also associated with engagement in repetitive activities and resistance to environmental change. In order to be eligible for special education services, a student with autism must meet a checklist of criteria, have a diagnosis of autism by a qualified medical professional, and display the symptoms of autism. (Utah Special Education Rules, Utah State Board of Education, pp. 28-31)

Licensing of Behavior Analysts
In 2015, the legislature passed and the Governor signed S.B. 246 amending the Psychologist Licensing Act to establish a license for an applied behavior analyst and an assistant behavior analyst and a registration for a behavior specialist and an assistant behavior specialist within the Utah Psychologist Licensing Board.


The Utah State Legislature meets annually in General Session on the fourth Monday in January. The 2016 session began on January 25, 2016 and adjourned on March 10, 2016. The 2017 session is expected to convene on January 23, 2017 and adjourn in March 2017.

Sponsors of Autism Legislation

  • Sen. Karen Mayne (D-Salt Lake City) District 5
  • Sen. Brian. Shiozawa (R-Salt Lake) District 8
  • Rep. Paul Ray (R-Davis) District 13
  • Rep. Eric K. Hutchings (R-Kearns) District 38

Prepared by Easterseals, Inc.; November 2016.

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