The Samuel Allen Law

special-needs

Texas Senate Bill 976, or The Samuel Allen Law was created
to “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.” (2019). 

            Samuel’s law all started with a mother and son named Jennifer and Samuel Allen. When Samuel decided he wanted to obtain his driving permit, mom (Jennifer) realized that ““Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer” was a restriction code option on the Texas driver license” (2019) and brought this up to the individual at the DPS office. The employee at the DPS Office looked to them with confusion and because they were not even aware this was a option. The employee was not sure if this code was even a restriction and had to call the headquarters in Austin to verify the restriction code. After this event Jennifer knew she had to make the public aware of this option, and from that stemmed the Driving with Autism Initiative.

            Jennifer and Samuel decided to approach the Texas DPS with a plan of action. They already had a non-profit, Aspergers101, that educates the public on Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism, so it was not hard to decide that they would “ absorb all costs and promote the unknown code not just to those diagnosed with Autism, but to all diagnosis falling into the established “Communication Impediment’ category.” (2019).  For them to start promoting the restriction code, they had to first get legislation allowing them to even promote. House Bill 1434 was passed “allowing Aspergers101 to place posters, brochures and PSAs in all Texas DPS Driver License Offices in both English and Spanish languages.” (2019). In addition to the posters and brochures, they also bought ad time and produced a short 30 second PSA on the new option.

            Besides just promoting and advocating for the new driving initiative, the bill also includes training for law enforcement. With the help of Dr. Louise O’Donnell from UT Health Science Center SA, Dr. Temple Grandin, and DPS Sergeant Charles Palcer, they were able to host 3 training workshops that administered a pre and posttest questioner (2019).

            They Allen Family, were not sure the bill would pass but it did and starting September 1st it went into effect. The bill is comprised of three parts:

  1. Option as a DPS restriction code on the driver license or state Id
  2. Law enforcement training on understanding autism
  3. Option to place communication impediment upon DMV vehicle registration thus alerting officers through the TLETS statewide system.

It is completely optional to participate in this option, you do not ever have to disclose your diagnosis, but do remember your diagnosis is protected under the law.

Reference

Texas Senate Bill 976: The Samuel Allen Law. (2019, February 25). Retrieved from https://aspergers101.com/texas-senate-bill-976-the-samuel-allen-law/

Leyla Shaath

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