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.”

A Father Addresses his Relationship with his Autistic Son

I am the father of a son with Aspergers Syndrome and through the years of my wife and I raising him, it has had many challenges for me.  As a father I wanted him to take interest in outdoor activities, sports and other things that we could do together but while he was not interested in these things there were other items of interest that I had to adapt to in order to spend the most amount of quality time with him.

While he may not have had interest in what I thought a young boy should be interested in, he has opened my eyes to a different world that has brought us closer together over the years. I just had to be the one to approach his interests with an open mind and with the idea that these were things we could do as a father and son.

Some words of advice from a father of an aspie, learn to be a listener, take interest in his actiMy Son: Through the eyes of a Fathervities, not those you think a young man should take interest in, find things to do outside the home that you can teach him and he is interested in.  Also, be supportive and patient as typically those with aspergers will find it difficult to relate to things we take for granted as well as conveying their thoughts in the same manner we are accustomed to.  They will never forget the times you spend with them and the memories you are making.

 

by: Herb Allen

Alone Time for Teens with Aspergers is Crucial: Allow Them Their Space

Breathing room or ‘alone time’ is good for anyone, but for someone on the spectrum it is crucial. When Sam was very young I found myself, as his mother, wanting to arrange play dates with other children who were not exactly knocking on our door for playtime. My reasoning was he must be lonely, so I did everything in my power to elicit playmates. Offering the best snacks, coolest toys, or excursions to area attractions, but it didn’t take long before no one came around.

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My son was alone.

What I’ve come to realize is that this is alright with Sam. He really prefers time alone verses a party. Really. It was me who was projecting my ideas of companionship on him, a neuro-typical brain trying to outguess his autistic brain.

How I Feel Living with Autism – The Story Behind our Logo!

One of the highlights when Sam and I speak at autism conferences is the reaction to a simple painting he had done depicting how it ‘feels’ to have autism. His interpretation offers a great insight and a relate-ability satisfying most neurotypical minds.  As a result to the overwhelming positive feedback…we’ve removed the puzzle piece and incorporated Sam’s painting into our logo!

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We’ve re-posted his story below and thank you for your continued support, feedback and most of all…our common ground of supporting those with High Functioning Autism and Aspergers Syndrome.       –Jennifer Allen

How I Feel Living with Autism

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“I painted this abstract picture to show neurotypicals what it feels like to have Aspergers Syndrome. At the time, I was enrolled in Art Appreciation I at Northeast Lakeview College. One day after class, I was at home and suddenly felt like painting, so I got some brushes, a canvas, and some acrylic paint and began to paint while envisioning the picture and its message in my mind. The black and white background represents how aspies tend to see the world in a black-and-white perspective and that we tend to act monotonous. The colors inside the head represent how our minds are bursting with extraordinary ideas. The white lines above the head represent how when we try to say what’s on our minds, it tends to get distorted by our social awkwardness.”            by: Samuel Allen

 

Celebrating the Uniqueness of Autism!

New Year...New Initiative

Happy New Year! As Aspergers101 begins the year 2016…we go in with a bang for our Autism/Asperger Community. Celebrating the Uniqueness of Autism is a campaign designed to do just that…celebrate the quirks and perks of Aspergers Syndrome. One way Aspergers101 will reach out is through a collaborative effort with the Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s TV Station in San Antonio Texas, WOAI-TV.

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General Manager John Seabers and  Creative Services Director Terry McFarlane graciously agreed to partner with Aspergers101 in bringing the message of Celebrating the Uniqueness of Autism to the viewers through a series of PSAs (Public Service Announcements) to air on WOAI, News 4 San Antonio, and digital Channel 4.2 Antenna TV as well as a worldwide reach on Aspergers101.org.

Agreeing to host the PSA series is senior veteran anchor Randy Beamer with the initial ads featuring the talents of Dr. Temple Grandin, Samuel Allen and Houston Eco-Artist Grant Manier. Each posses unique talents that could have been overlooked if not for someone standing up for them and guiding them toward their area of expertise.

We want to share these initial PSAs with you here:

Spotlight on: Inventor, Autism Activist and Author Dr. Temple Grandin

A Message to Fathers

A Message to Fathers

In this special edition of Top of the Spectrum News, Samuel Allen (diagnosed with Aspergers) addresses the fathers who are having a difficult time accepting their child’s diagnosis. This hits home for many as Sam speaks from the heart (he spoke while we let the cameras roll) how it feels to have Autism and a Dad who could have bolted from fear of the unknown.

Note: This video was graciously shot by High School Students at San Antonio’s School for Inquiry and Creativity’s Urban Film School Department.  

 

Aspergers and Driving – Help us Transform the DPS System!

It's #GivingTuesday...Take Part!

 

Aspergers101 is helping to safely put those with Autism/Aspergers behind the wheel!

Working with the Texas DPS, Dr. Temple Grandin, and our State Legislature (R-Lyle Larson), Aspergers101 has begun a 2-year initiative titled: “Driving Safely with Autism/Aspergers Syndrome”. This project involves marketing the new Texas drivers license restriction code: Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer, and implementing changes that will enhance communication/understanding between the law and a person with Autism/Asperger Syndrome or other communication impediments. Poster

Started by the mom of a son with Aspergers Syndrome, Aspergers101.org is a 501c3 non-profit that was recently awarded the #2 slot on The Top Ten Worldwide Websites List on the topic of Autism/Aspergers Syndrome!
Thank you for your consideration of supporting this ground-breaking endeavor. Texas would lead the country with the implementation of such a program. You will soon see a section on the Aspergers101 website offering updated information on the status of the two-year project which includes posters (pictured), tri-fold brochures (both in Spanish and English), training video modules and Texas DPS amendments during the January 2017 Legislative Session.
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Pictured (l to r) Mr. Joe Peters (Assistant Director Driver License Division/Texas DPS, Frances Gomez/Manager, License and Records Service, and Brian Riemenschneider, Assistant General Counsel, Samuel Allen/Aspergers101, Jennifer Allen/Founder Aspergers101, JoeAnna Mastracchio/Deputy Assist Director Customer Support Texas DPS and Brian Riemenschneider/Asst General Counsel

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Dr. Temple Grandin and Samuel Allen get together in Ft. Worth, TX to discuss Autism and Communication Impediment as a restriction code.

Aspergers and Middle School: One 20-year old goes back to enlighten others!

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Having Aspergers was definitely a challenge during the Middle School years for Samuel Allen, but being asked to return to that same school and speak to a support group, Parent to Parent, allowed him the opportunity to benefit others with his experience and insight.

Click here for full story : NEISD News | Lopez hosts successful Parent to Parent Support Group

A Quote Worth Contemplating…

When asked about living with Autism, without prompt nor expectation of any kind, this quote came from our son Sam during an interview for the documentary “Coping to Excelling”. 

“Don’t worry about the impairments that God included in this package….think about the good stuff in the package God gave you.”                                                                                                               -Sam Allen July 2011

These are Sam’s words of advice to anyone living with an impairment, disability or challenge of any kind. His words, though brief, are quite powerful for someone in their mid-teens. I share this because as a person of faith, this is a good way of thinking…maybe for us all.