Driving with Autism

This trail-blazing initiative is improving the interaction between law enforcement and people with a communication challenge. Because of the collaborative work of Aspergers101 and the Texas DPS, the following 3 initiatives were announced on April 25th, 2016 at a Press Conference from our State Capitol. 1) New Drivers License & ID Restriction Code: Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer 2) State-wide law enforcement training on Autism, Aspergers and other disabilities within the Communication Impediment restriction code.  3) Aspergers101 teamed up with Texas DPS Training Facility in Florence Texas to develop a template for a day-long “Driving with Autism” Camp. (Update: Due to lack of funding, Texas DPS has cancelled the Driving with Autism Day Camp until further notice)

Aspergers101 maintains the Driving with Autism initiative through law enforcement training, state-wide marketing campaigns and providing all Texas DPS Driver License Offices with updated Driving with Autism posters and brochures both in English and Spanish languages.

 What constitutes a Communication Challenge? Most common diagnoses include: Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Mild intellectual disability, Deafness, Speech & languages disorders, Expressive Language Disorder, Down Syndrome, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Deafness, Brain Injury or Parkinson’s Disease. (more information in downloadables below)

Texas Transportation Code §521.125 allows the Texas Department of Public Safety to include a notice on the driver license or identification card  of those who indicate they have a health condition that may impede their ability to communicate with a peace officer.

The health condition must be supported by a written statement (Download Physician’s Statement form DL-101) from a licensed physician and presented at the driver license office before the communication impediment notice may be included on the back of the driver license or identification card.

You may go to the Texas DPS website for full information here:  TX DPS- Driver License – Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer  

The Samuel Allen Law

86th Texas Legislative Session
SB 976

In Progress: Aspergers101 has proposed a new bill titled “Samuel Allen Law” currently being introduced during the 86th Texas Legislative Session. This bill would allow a person with a Communication Impediment (subcategory: Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Deafness, Hearing Impairment, PTSD, Parkinson’s Disease, Mild Intellectual Disability and more) the option for disclosure when registering their vehicle through the Texas DMV. This would place the diagnosis privately in the Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunication System (TLETS) alerting the officer PRIOR to approaching the vehicle in a pull-over scenario. This will not only save lives, it will keep the diagnosis hidden from public scrutiny.

April 4, 2019 (WOAI-News4/San Antonio) Adam King reports on Texas SB 976: The Samuel Allen Law and it’s uncontested passage through the Tx Senate Transportation Committee yesterday. What can you do? Contact your Texas State Senator or Representative and tell them of your support for SB 976! We still have many steps to go until it reaches Texas Governor Abbott’s desk but we are well over the first hurdle!

The Samuel Allen Law is being carried by:

Senate Bill 976House Bill 2644

Senator Bryan Hughes (R)

Representative Armando A.
Martinez (D)

(512) 463-0101
Contact: Burwell Thompson
Policy Advisor for Senator Hughes

(512) 463-0530

P.O. Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711 

P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768

Support for “Samuel Allen Law” has been strong! Below lists supporters in both law enforcement and public sector.

“It is extremely helpful for drivers who have a communication impediment to have the option to declare it on their driver’s license.  They should also have the option of specifying a subcategory of the impediment such as autism, Asperger Syndrome, deafness, PTSD, stuttering, cerebral palsy, or etc in the TLETS.  This data should be in the police computer system (Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System) so that a police officer will know that the communication impediment exists BEFORE he/she approaches a stopped vehicle.  This will help prevent a life threatening misunderstanding.”

– Dr. Temple Grandin

“I support the legislative efforts of Ms. Jennifer Allen to reduce the risks of misunderstandings between police officers and Texas drivers who have communication impediments. Effective communication between officers and those stopped on traffic is critical for the safety of all involved. Providing officers with this critical information before approaching the vehicle and interacting with the driver may allow for more effective communication and a safer interaction between the parties.”

– Art Acevedo/Houston Chief of Police

“This simple coding would revolutionize how officers relate to a driver. Texas would be the first state in the nation to have this innovative tool for our law enforcement- a win/win for both drivers and officers.”

-Jane L Lynch M.D., FAAP/Professor of Pediatrics UT Health Science Center

“There is no question that the Driving with Autism initiative will provide officers with critical information by alerting law enforcement of impediments such as Autism, Aspergers, PTSD or more, prior to approaching the vehicle. On behalf of the SAPD, I am proud to support this proposed legislation.”

– William P. McManus/San Antonio Chief of Police

Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities

Recommendation 8.12: Recommend policy or legislation to have the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and the Texas Department of Public Safety include “communication impediment with a peace officer” data for those individuals who wish to voluntarily disclose a disability within the TLETS data system. When including such voluntarily disclosed disability data, designated agencies shall ensure that (1) all law enforcement officers are trained on this data and its intended use following TLETS implementation and (2) all disability-related information associated with the information stored in the TLETS data system shall remain confidential and storage and use of such data shall adhere to medical confidentiality laws as applicable Read full 2020-2021 Biennium Policy Recommendations for the 86th Legislative Session here.

To support Samuel Allen Law, please contact your Texas State Senator, or Representative…let them hear from you!

We will keep you posted here on the status of SB 976 The Samuel Allen Law as it progresses through the 2019 Texas Legislative Session. It will be our mission to share the successes of the entire Aspergers101 “Driving with Autism” initiative with every state in our nation.

Interested in Law Enforcement Training on Autism Spectrum Disorders and other Communication Challenges? Contact Jennifer Allen at Aspergers101 here

 Official Public Service Announcement(s)

The Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Governors Committee on People with Disabilities and Aspergers101 together announced the new Driver License Restriction Code for Citizens with Autism on Monday April 25th 2016 at the Texas State Capitol.

“Driving with Autism” Handouts

Jennifer Allen (Aspergers101 Founder/CEO) conducted 3 Texas Trooper Training Workshops administering pre and post test questionnaire. These questionnaires were assimilated and submitted by Dr. Louise O’Donnell/UT Health Science Center San Antonio and were formally presented at the Texas Psychological Association Convention on November 11th 2016. This poster is now published as an evidence-based program titled: Increasing Law Enforcement Officer Understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders.” By Louise O’Donnell, Ph.D. The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, Jennifer Allen, B.A. and Samuel Allen, A.A. Aspergers101, Charles Palcer, B.S. Texas Department of Public Safety and Temple Grandin, Ph.D., Colorado State University.

Click to Download

“Driving with Autism” Camp

(Update: Due to lack of funding, Texas DPS has cancelled the Driving with Autism Day Camp until further notice)

Press Release from the Texas Department of Public Safety

Texas DPS Press Release - Initiatives to Help Texas Drivers with Communication Challenges
Texas DPS Press Release - Initiatives to Help Texas Drivers with Communication Challenges-p2

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Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw

“At the Department of Public Safety, we are uniquely aware that having a driver license can pave the way to independence for many, and we are pleased to provide the communication impediment notice on Texas driver licenses and ID cards. Protecting the safety of all Texans, on and off the road, is the keystone of our mission, and this driver license/ID card option provides vital information that can serve as a powerful communication bridge between this group of Texans and our officers.”-  Steven McCraw/Texas DPS Director

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Texas Governors Commitee

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