[M]any police departments have trained officers and other first responders how to spot signs of autism and respond accordingly. Some organizations have also published identification cards that ASD adults can carry in order to defuse potential conflicts. Virginia provides for an autism designation on driver licenses and other state-issued identification cards. Once again, however, the dilemma of difference comes into play. One autistic Virginian worries: “Great, so if I get into an accident, who’s the cop going to believe, the guy with the autistic label or the guy without it?” Clinical psychologist Michael Oberschneider is concerned about the understanding level of first responders: “I think many people still think of Rain Man or, more recently, the Sandy Hook Shooter, when they think of autism even though very few people on the autistic spectrum are savants or are homicidal and dangerous.”Wes Rapaport reports at KMAC-TV:
A new public service announcement was unveiled urging drivers with autism to consider applying for a note on their driver’s license that informs law enforcement about potential interaction challenges. The video message informs Texans about the “communication impediment” restriction code.
Samuel Allen, who is on the autism spectrum, said having the marker on his driver’s license feels “like a big safety net,” and makes him more comfortable when he gets in his car.
“If I showed [it] to the officer, they are going to know that I have autism or some kind of impediment that will keep me from communicating properly with the officer,” Allen explained.
Legislation was passed in the last session that took effect in September, allowing brochures and posters highlighting the “communication impediment” code, in large part due to work done by Aspergers101, which Allen’s mother Jennifer founded.
In order to qualify, drivers must complete a Physicians Statement Form (DL101) and submit it with a new driver’s license application to your local driver’s license office. Registration is optional. The Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD) has worked alongside Aspergers101 and the Texas Department of Public Safety to include the “communication impediment” phrase on licenses of drivers who qualify.