Search This Blog

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Autism Cards in Suffolk County, New York

In The Politics of Autism, I write:

[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.”

Jennifer McLogan at WCBS-TV in New York:
Suffolk County law enforcement officers are now equipped with a tool to help people on the autism spectrum during potentially stressful encounters. It was designed by a young man from Long Island, who is on the spectrum himself.

Christopher Cortale, a receptionist at the Winters Center for Autism in West Babylon, helped design an emergency card to foster communication in stressful situations.

At the top, the card reads, "Please be patient. I have autism. Please point to the pictures to help me understand what you want." Underneath are photos of a driver's license, registration, insurance and weapons.

The card also includes photos and captions violations for officers to indicate if the individual with autism is being warned, ticketed or arrested, and reasons, such as license plate, tail light, speed limit, stop sign or several others.

The bottom of the card has a section titled "I need help" with photos indicating low fuel, flat tire, hospital, emergency contact, tow truck and lost.