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Recent Special “Autism” Code on Virginia Driver’s Licenses and ID Cards Goes into Law: Helpful or Discriminatory for Individuals on the Autistic Spectrum?
Date:7/11/2014

Ashburn, Virginia (PRWEB) July 11, 2014

ASHBURN PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PSYCHIATRIC SERVICES

On July 1st, Senate bill 367 took effect, which allows individuals with an intellectual disability or autism to have a special code placed on the back of their licenses and ID cards to alert law enforcement or first responders that they are dealing with someone with a condition. The idea was inspired by a central Virginia mother, Ms. Pam Mines, who wanted to be proactive in protecting her 9 year old autistic son, JP. During a news conference after the law passed, Ms. Mines asserted, “I really wanted to make sure that my son was protected in the event that a situation came about where he is faced with law enforcement and they’re not aware that he has autism.”

Just a few days into the law, Dr. Michael Oberschneider describes a very mixed response on it from his patients with autistic spectrum disorders. And within his outpatient therapy practice in Northern Virginia, he has already identified a trend in which adult and younger patients appear to have concerns about the law for themselves, while the parents of younger patients appear to be embracing it.

More specifically, several adults on the autism spectrum in Dr. Oberschneider’s practice have expressed fear that the law could become discriminatory for them. One adult patient shared, “Great, so if I get into an accident, who’s the cop going to believe, the guy with the autistic label or the guy without it?” And Dr. Oberschneider himself shares some of the same concern that JP's Law could also create moments for profiling or discrimination to occur. Dr. Oberschneider asserts, "Even though autism is more in the public eye today than ever before, that does not necessarily mean people understand it. To the contrary, I think many people still think of Rain Man or, more recently, the Sandy Hook Shooter, when they think of autism even though very few people on
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