Representatives from the Utah Autism Coalition and Home Depot worked diligently Friday to quickly construct a Utah-shaped ball pit in the rotunda of the State Capitol in Salt Lake City. With each of the 18,532 balls representing a child in Utah with autism, organizers aimed to visually encourage politicians to pass Senate Bill 55, which would require health insurance companies to cover diagnostics and treatment for autistic children who are on state-regulated plans. Mirella Petersen, president of the Utah Autism Coalition, said enacting the bill and treating children with autism will save the state millions of dollars by preventing lost productivity and adult care. In Utah, one in 47 children has autism.
"They need to be more fiscally responsible to our taxpayers and help our children," Petersen said.
Matt Bengtzen, a parent advocate with the coalition, said the demonstration was significant for the autism community in Utah.
"I look at this and see all the children with autism in Utah and this is their voice," Bengtzen said. "This is a big deal."