[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.”
At.myarklamiss.com/KTVE-TV, Mya Hudgins reports:
Two local women who work for the Autism Society of North Louisiana have spent the last few months working with representative Francis Thompson on a new bill that will protect those on the Autism Spectrum. House bill 317 will allow those with autism to get a symbol placed on their driver’s license, so police and first responders will know immediately that the driver has Autism. The flashing lights, sirens, and not knowing who the officer is could trigger a sensory overload for those on the spectrum.
“Sometimes those on the autism spectrum may have that fight or flight, they may walk off if you are trying to talk to them, they may not have the communication skills, and they may not be able to talk to you,” said Dr. Dawn Stanfield, co-founder of Badge Buddies.
In addition, the bill requires police officers to take a course that will train them on interacting with those on the spectrum. House Bill 317 is a tool for both the driver and the police officer.
“If they have this training and they understand the communication differences and some of the behavior differences with individuals with autism, then they may not misinterpret some of that behavior as being disrespectful or non-compliant,” said Amber Boykin, President of Autism Society of North Louisiana.
The bill will go into effect on August 1st of this year. The Autism Society of North Louisiana will have a summer institute training later this month. For more information about the Autism Society Of North Louisiana, click here. To read the entire HB317, click here.