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Saturday, January 4, 2020

Blue Envelopes in Connecticut

[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.”
A new state law is helping law enforcement during traffic stops, and supporters believe it improves the interaction between officers and drivers.
The new law was backed by the Connecticut Police Chief’s Association, Department of Motor Vehicles, and an autism advocacy group, who all rallied around the creation of the "Blue Envelope."
With the law, a driver would present a blue envelope to an officer, which should have registration and insurance papers. On each side, there’s information on how each party should respond during the stop.
The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, in consultation with the Connecticut Police Chiefs
Association and at least one organization that advocates for persons with autism spectrum disorder, shall design and make available blue envelopes that (1) provide written information and guidance on the outside of the envelopes regarding ways to \enhance effective communication between a police officer and a person with autism spectrum disorder, and (2) are capable of holding a person's motor vehicle operator's license, registration and insurance identification card. On and after January 1, 2020, upon request by a person with autism spectrum disorder or if such person is a minor, such person's parent or guardian, the commissioner shall provide a blue envelope designed pursuant to this section to such person, parent or guardian