State begins issuing Autism ID cards

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - The Alabama Department of Public Health is now offering ID cards for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  The cards are meant to help bridge the communication gap between law enforcement and people with autism.

Dr. Lawrence Robey with the Madison County Health Department says in a tense situation, an autistic person can often find communicating difficult.

"They may fail to respond quickly, may fail to answer questions, look nervous or look away. Some things people may be trained to see as suspicious behavior," explained Robey.

Robey says the cards will help the person navigate an uncomfortable situation while helping law enforcement officials who may otherwise misinterpret their behavior.

The card simply states:

 I have autism: I have been medically diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. My medical condition impairs my ability to communicate with others. As a result I may have difficulty understanding your directions, and I may not be able to respond to your questions. I may also become physically agitated if you touch me or move too close to me.

Please do not interpret my behavior as refusal to cooperate. I am not intentionally defying your instructions.

If I exhibit any of these behaviors, I request that you contact the person noted below on my behalf; s/he will confirm my diagnosis and provide information you may need about my identity.

To apply for the card, you simply need to have a medical provider fill out a form, confirming your diagnosis.

The forms can be downloaded from the Alabama Department of Public Health, picked up at the Madison County Health Department, or at your doctor's office.

To receive a card, you must present a government issued ID. The cards cost $10. Replacement cards are $5.

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