The Politics of Autism discusses the problem of wandering, which has been the topic of legislation before Congress.
Conservatives raised privacy concerns prompting additional language to be inserted in the bill before it passed the full House on the last day the body was in session. That left just one day for the Senate to act.
The changes, however, led some disability advocacy groups — including The Arc and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network — to publicly come out against the measure.
Specifically, the groups cited a provision added to the House bill that would allow law enforcement to use data from tracking devices to prevent “injury or death” not only of a person wearing such a device but also “caused by the patient assigned the tracking device.”
“What worries us is that police would be able to say, ‘we don’t know where they are and they’re autistic, so they might be a threat simply because they’re autistic,'” said Samantha Crane, director of public policy for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. “We don’t want that data to be used for any other purpose other than to locate a missing person.”
Crane said her group and others were also troubled that the House bill would fund Kevin and Avonte’s Law by drawing money away from an existing program designed to help community-based organizations collaborate with police.
With the modifications in the House version dividing disability advocates, senators ultimately did not vote. Going forward, the bill would have to begin anew, a process backers say is likely.