Driving with Autism Initiative
Driving with Autism was created by Jennifer Allen, founder and former executive director of Aspergers101. Jennifer’s son Samuel is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) characterized by difficulties with social interaction and nonverbal communication. When Samuel reached driving age, Ms. Allen recognized the need for support for people with communication impediments in interacting with law enforcement during a traffic stop.
What does Driving with Autism mean for me?
The most important pieces of the program for Texas drivers are:
- The option to include the code “Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer” on your driver license or state ID card;
- The option to include “communication impediment” in the Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (TLETS) when you register your vehicle- this privately alerts officers of a diagnosis before exiting the vehicle during a traffic stop.
Other components of the initiative include:
- The Driving with Autism information campaign, which places informative brochures and posters in all Texas DPS Driver License offices;
- Providing optional training on interacting with drivers with autism for law enforcement officers through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE)
How do I participate?
If you want to place the code for “Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer” on your ID or driver license:
- Ask your doctor to complete form DL-101 and present it at the driver license office. The code will go on the back of your license, similar to other codes like organ donor or corrective lenses.
If you want “communication impediment” to be included in TLETS:
- Have your doctor, psychologist, or non-physician mental health professional complete form VTR-216. Present this form when you register your vehicle.
If you are a law enforcement officer, you can access the Driving with Autism training in TCOLE. This training is available to all Texas law enforcement interested in learning more about conditions that may make communicating effectively with an officer more difficult. The training includes more detailed information on what constitutes a communication impediment and practical tips for successful communication.
What is a communication impediment?
A communication impediment is anything that may impact someone’s ability to understand, hear, or use spoken language to communicate with someone else. Common diagnoses associated with this include:
- Autism (including Asperger Syndrome)
- Mild intellectual disability
- Deafness/Hard of Hearing
- Cerebral palsy
- Speech and Language disorders
- Down Syndrome
- Brain Injury
- Parkinson’s Disease
If you are interested in learning more about the history of the Driving with Autism Initiative, as well as tips on how to bring it to your state, check out the following resources:
- Public Service Announcement - Communication Impediment Driver License Designation
- Public Service Announcement – Communication Impediment Driver License Designation in American Sign Language
- Driving with Autism Public Service Announcement
- Driving with Autism Public Service Announcement in American Sign Language
- Samuel Allen Law Informational Video
- Senate Bill 976 (86th Legislative Session) - relating to the notification of a peace officer through an indication associated with vehicle registration that a person has a health condition or disability that may impede effective communication.
- House Bill 1434 (85th Legislative Session) - relating to displaying certain informational materials and videos in driver license offices.