Should an Autism Symbol Be Added to NYS Driver’s Licenses?
It's a question that's pretty hot right now in New York because of one family, their autistic son, and a network television show.
According to WABC, Pete and Denise Gagliardo of thought up the idea of putting an autism symbol on driver's licenses while they were watching an episode of "The Good Doctor."
"It popped into my mind about kids that are on the spectrum," Pete told WABC. "What happens to my son now that he is driving if he gets pulled over in this instance? What is he going to do if something happens out of the norm?"
The Putnam County residents have an 18-year-old autistic son named Ryan, who has started driving on his own, and the family worries that if Ryan were to be pulled over, a cop who was unaware of Ryan's autism may misinterpret his actions.
"He's never been experienced with an officer before in that close capacity, and that would make him seem that he was agitated," Denise told WABC.
Ryan told WABC he thinks that his agitation could come across as a lack of cooperation to officers. If officers took a look at his ID and saw a symbol for autism, they would be able to understand his actions more clearly and work through the situation more easily.
"They're able to see the person is on the spectrum and they can respond accordingly as far as they can turn it down a notch," Sgt. Gerald Locascio from the Town of Kent Police Department told WABC. "If there are other officers responding for whatever the situation is, they can advise them to back it down with the lights, the siren."
With these ideas in mind, WABC reports that Pete sent letters to 20 area state legislators, asking them to consider a bill that would place a symbol on licenses of people with autism. Governor Cuomo said he would look into it, but Yonkers State Assemblyman Nader Sayegh took Pete's proposal to the next level and drafted a bill.
"I jumped on it because I like being pro-active and when something makes sense, why delay?" Sayegh told WABC.
Sayegh is currently on the hunt for someone to co-sponsor his bill. He told WABC he expects there to be full support from the full state assembly and that the bill could be on Cuomo's desk by the end of June.