Texas DPS Autism Training and Education/New Driving Camp for Autistic Drivers

Notes from Representative Ron Simmons

“Aspergers101 is proud to announce its “Driving with Autism” program in conjunction with the Texas DPS, and endorsed by the Texas Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities and Dr. Temple Grandin”.   – Jennifer Allen/Founder Aspergers101
04/28/2016                                                                      by: Rep. Simmons, Ron

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Texas State Rep. Mr. Ron Simmons

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), along with the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and advocacy group Aspergers101, announced initiatives designed to assist Texans with communication impairments. DPS also announced it will coordinate with Aspergers101 to provide training and education to DPS officers about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and potential communications challenges associated with ASD and other disorders. In addition, the department announced it is working with Aspergers101 to develop a camp that will help increase driver confidence and practical skills among communication-challenged individuals.

“I appreciate DPS’ proactive approach to address this matter before problems arise,” State Representative Ron Simmons (Carrollton) said upon hearing about the department’s actions. “As the father of an autistic son living independently, I understand the importance of transportation independence for individuals on the autism spectrum as well as their loved ones.”

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Pictured (l to r) Mr. Joe Peters, Major Jason Hester, Jennifer Allen, Samuel Allen and Mr. Ron Lucey

DPS has offered a special designation on state issued drivers licenses and ID cards to facilitate better communication between officers and communication-challenged individuals. Such individuals may (but are not required to) request a “communication impediment” designation be placed on their driver license/ID card. Printed on the back of a driver license/ID card, the voluntary designation informs officers of a communication challenge in order to help facilitate better communication during any encounter with the individual. This designation, already in use to assist hearing-impaired individuals with officer communications, has been expanded to include individuals diagnosed with certain medical conditions – such as autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, or stuttering impairment.

“At DPS, our mission is to serve and protect the people of Texas,” DPS Assistant Director for the Driver License Division Joe Peters said. “This optional notice on the driver license and ID card puts important information in the hands of our law enforcement officers, which will help them better serve and protect individuals with a communication impediment.”

DPS boosts Training on How to Deal with Drivers with Autism

by Samantha Ketterer- Houston Chronicle

The Texas Department of Public Safety will begin training officers on how to interact with people with autism, one of several initiatives the agency announced Monday to help with traffic stops involving motorists with communication difficulties.

The agency also will expand the definition of “communication impediment,” a notation that appears on driver licenses if a person chooses. The notation previously was aimed at protecting deaf people, but now will be available for those on the autism spectrum.

Maj. Jason Hester, of the DPS Education, Training and Research Division, said the department did not see a specific need for the program before being approached by Aspergers101, an advocacy group on the communication impediment.

“We don’t have any documented incidents,” Hester said. “However, we just think that it was a great initiative to have the additional information, to have that out there. We have a responsibility to provide for a safer Texas.”

Samuel Allen, who is 21 and has autism, said people with communication impediments may not understand figures of speech and could react to a police officer in a way that he could see as disrespectful.

conference img 3“Learning to drive can be a very scary concept, and especially moreso if you have high-functioning autism or Aspergers,” said Samuel Allen, the son of Aspergers101 founder Jennifer Allen. “I feel protected knowing that ‘communication impediment’ is printed on my driver’s license.”

Aspergers101 also is collaborating with the agency in providing “Driving with Autism” summer camps to help people with communication difficulties learn how to drive and interact with police officers.

Ron Lucey, executive director of the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, voiced his support for the initiatives, saying they can help people with autism be more “transportation independent.”

Announcing: “Driving with Autism” Texas Decal

Order yours today!

The Autism community is a tight-knit group. We grieve together, learn together, fight together and celebrate together…that’s just how we roll! Great strides in Texas have been made recently educating law enforcement on Autism and other communication impediment disorders. Through the Aspergers101 “Driving with Autism” initiative, Texas Trooper Recruits are being trained specifically for understanding the autistic traits they may encounter such as delayed response, coping mechanisms and nervous ticks during a typical pull-over. This coupled with the Driver License Restriction Code, Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer available directly on the Driver License or Texas ID will soon set the stage for other states to follow.

Maybe you are driving and have Autism, Aspergers or other challenges with communication and want this to be recognized, or perhaps you are a parent, relative, friend or supporter of someone who does…either way…Aspergers101 is proud to offer the official “Driving with Autism” decal for your vehicle!drivig-with-autism-decal-with-texas-2

Offered as either a magnet or vinyl decal, this full-color decal is a generous 6 inches in diameter. Best yet, all proceeds go to support the free “Driving with Autism”printed materials (brochures, posters, booklets) offered to schools, libraries and autism organizations throughout the great State of Texas. You can order here: Driving with Autism Decal

How a community designed our logo

Ever hear of the brilliant eco-artist, Grant Manier? Grant and his amazing Mom (talk about a supportive parent) Julie M Coy suggested a car decal for our “Driving with Autism” initiative. Grant got to work and offered us the artwork that established the foundation for our final product. Julie continued supporting and lending her efforts until a final design was voted on by you our readers and supporters! Overwhelming response with differing opinions and suggestions which formed our final logo! Thank you for your involvement and we at Aspergers101 will continue to work on behalf of our Autism Community…in Texas and beyond!

-Jennifer Allen/Founder Aspergers101

EPSON MFP image

by: Eco-Artist Grant Manier

Julie M Coy, Grant Manier

To see more of Grant Manier’s amazing work, go to: Artwork by Eco-Friendly Artist Grant Manier

New Drivers License Restriction Code for Autism? It’s in the works!

Whether to drive with High Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome is as individual a question as is the person. For many there is no interest in obtaining a drivers license as public transportation more than serves the purpose. For others, the heightened sensory issues and accompanying ADD make driving an almost dangerous venture. However, for those truly wanting the independence that driving can bring but fear the strong potential for communication mis-understanding with a law enforcement officer….we may have some good news that’s on the horizon!

Sam DL backsideIn the United States, the Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Transportation policies varies from state to state.  Though many countries/states have various polices in place concerning driving with an impairment or disability, it’s not enough….we need more.

My son Sam (age 20) and I reside in the State of Texas and presented a plan that would notify law enforcement, through a drivers license restriction, of autism in an individual. A newly assigned restriction code would alert an officer of the law that this person has Autism and is wired differently: most likely not understanding sarcasm, social cues nor respond well to threats or loud sounds. The restriction “Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer” is available through Texas DPS.

As it stands today, if you live in the State of Texas (hopefully other states will soon follow suit) here are the steps you need to take to get this protective/restriction code on your drivers license.

Adding Communication Impediment to y
our driver license is simple:

1) Have your physician complete and sign
a Physician’s Statement Form (DL101) affirming the autism diagnosis. 

2) Visit your local driver license office for
a driver license application (DL14A/S). Be sure and complete Line 7 (or like the Texas Veterans Commission, you could extract the line from the form for emphasis)

For all Texas Driver License forms go to www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense

Driver’s License Code for Autism? It’s in the works!

Whether to drive with High Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome is as individual a question as is the person. For many there is no interest in obtaining a drivers license as public transportation more than serves the purpose. For others, the heightened sensory issues and accompanying ADD make driving an almost dangerous venture. However, for those truly wanting the independence that driving can bring but fear the strong potential for communication miSam DL backsides-understanding with a law enforcement officer…we may have some good news that’s on the horizon!

In the United States, the Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Transportation policies varies from state to state.  Though many countries/states have various polices in place concerning driving with an impairment or disability, it’s not enough….we need more.

My son Sam (age 20) and I reside in the State of Texas and presented a plan that would notify law enforcement, through a drivers license restriction, of autism in an individual. A newly assigned restriction code would alert an officer of the law that this person has Autism and is wired differently: most likely not understanding sarcasm, social cues nor respond well to threats or loud sounds. The restriction “Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer” is available through Texas DPS. Once established with internal coding in the T-LETS (Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System), any law officer would know prior to approaching the vehicle, that the driver has challenges with communication. That part (T-LETS) is not yet established but is currently being looked at within the DPS as is the restriction code being placed on the front of the drivers license as well as the back.

As it stands today,