UPDATE: From another AL.com article, here is what the card will look like.
The card reads:
“I have been medically diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. My medical condition impairs my ability to communicate with others. As a result, I may have difficulty understanding your directions and I may not be able to respond to your questions. I may also become physically agitated if you touch me or move too close to me. Please do not interpret my behavior as refusal to cooperate. I am not intentionally defying your instructions.”
The back contains contact information to assist the law enforcement officers or any public safety workers.
I am glad to see the state of Alabama doing something good here. The legislature passed a law last year that will require the state health department to give out special ID cards to Alabama drivers on the Autism Spectrum. The ID cards will be ready in March, and it will cost $10. The reason why the state will be offering cards is simple. People like me on the Autism Spectrum sometimes have a hard time communicating with the police, like during a traffic stop. The cards will explain to the police that the driver has an autism disorder and may have difficulty communicating or understanding directions. The cards also explain that the driver may become agitated if touched.
So, I think this is a great idea! Since I have had encounters with the police just for walking on the side of the road. But, when AL.com put out an article talking about the ID cards, some commenters did not like this idea. One person said they ought not have a driver’s license. Really? I mean people with Asperger’s or Autism have places to go? Another commenter said If they can’t understand directions do they get a free pass to run stop signs? I mean, people with Autism and Asperger’s are good drivers! They might be better drivers than other drivers!
So, here are some other comments that either I found amusing or weird.
This assumes that the officer will give the autistic driver the opportunity to show the additional ID, and it further assumes that the officer will read the additional ID. I’d bet that within the next year we see a report of an autistic driver pulled from his car and beaten because he wasn’t behaving in the way the officer wanted him to, after the driver offered the additional ID.
Retrain police so that they understand that getting MORE assertive if the driver does not instantly respond in the manner the officer expects is NOT the best response for all stops. Right now a lot of officers only seem to have one tool in their toolbox.
People who have autism spectrum disorders don’t connect with other people the same way you or I do. If doing what the officer is suggesting does not make sense to an autistic driver in the context in which he currently finds himself, he is likely to ask the officer why he should do what the officer is telling him to. He isn’t being rude, or resistant, or hostile, he is asking for a logical reason to do something that makes no sense to him. Unfortunately, many officers will interpret this as noncompliance rather than as an honest request for information, and escalate the situation.
I speak from experience: a friend of mine has a profoundly autistic son who lives in Nashville and whom I have known for twenty-odd years. This young man, who is 27 or 28 now, has a job and a driver’s license, and generally gets along reasonably well. But I do worry about him getting pulled over by the police, even though he is generally pretty careful about obeying speed limits and traffic laws.
Those with autism must pass the same driving test as anyone else. These people are MORE likely to follow the letter of the law, not less likely.
What about those of us with dontlikerudesmartasscop-ism. Can we get a card?
Don’t you see how it works? Just show up to apply for a card, act like you are really uncomfortable being there , exhibit a blank stare, mumble a lot, sway back in forth in your chair and you should pass.
Making jokes about people with a disorder like autism is low and vile. The sort of thing white trash does. Glad you made it clear what kind of person you are. Now we know.
So, I am happy to see Alabama helping out those with Autism or Asperger’s. Even if some people don’t agree with it! If you want to read the AL.com article, go to: http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2015/01/alabama_drivers_with_autism_wi.html#incart_river
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