Autism and such

Yesterday, I received a petition in my in-box against adding an indication on someone’s driving licence – in the state of New York – that the person is autistic.

I am torn over that.

More confusingly, the e-mail asks me both to help support and oppose the bill and refers a letter in response – by autistic people, that is nowhere to be found (because the link to the document went .

When I searched for it, by clicking on links in the e-mail and clicking on other links, I did find it, here:
And upon reading that letter, and the entire e-mail, it becomes clear that the word “support” (the bill) in the e-mail should have been “oppose”. A typo.

I can see both sides and I don’t know what the golden compromise would be.

Discrimination is not a good thing.

But it’s happened – and not just once –¬† that police officers unleashed a lot of violence at someone who was (or still is, if the person survived) autistic. Or simply deaf. Because police officers didn’t realise it.

Would an indication on someone’s driving licence help? On some occasions, yes, I am sure. In many other circumstances, not at all.

For autistic people, I can imagine it might help more if they simply call one of their friends or relatives whenever they encounter misunderstandings. Would that work in practice? I don’t know. Police officers often act first, ask questions later. Someone trying to take a phone out of his pocket, it could easily be misinterpreted as the person going for a gun, in some countries.

It wouldn’t work for deaf people as they might not even be aware that one or more police officers are calling out or yelling.

The main problem appears to be that driving licences are also used as ID in many situations in which disclosing that someone is autistic serves no good purpose, certainly in the States, where most people have no passport as Americans have a giant country at their disposal and rarely have a need to cross an international border.

Any good ideas? Is this a real problem or does this kind of stuff happen just as often to people who are not autistic?

Wearing dorky glasses or having become a bit shy because of some things that happened to you does not mean that you’re autistic. As far as I can tell, people who are autistic have brains that work differently and that makes them look at the world differently. Autistic people may lack abilities that other people have in varying degrees (social skills) but they also have abilities that others lack and they’re certainly far from “stupid” or “naive” or whatever else may be said about that. I too find autism very hard to understand, but I watched a video a few days ago that I first found very confusing, but when I thought about it some more, it became highly enlightening.¬†Maybe it is not that dissimilar from, say, synesthesia (in which the senses overlap and words printed in black and white can have colors or pitch, for example).