With just six letters, “autism” is a word that tends to create more questions than it answers.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability that creates impairments in social interactions such as verbal and nonverbal communication, according to the American Psychological Association.
In emergency situations, loud noises and flashing lights can fluster someone with autism, making it difficult for them to react or verbalize problems.
With this scenario in mind, the University of Miami’s Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) announced a partnership with the Coral Gables Police Department and the Disability Independence Group to create an autism identification card. The purpose of this wallet card would be to identify an individual’s specific circumstances to first responders in an emergency situation. The card would be presented along with a photo ID.
An autism ID card is a good solution to spread awareness about autism, and it allows individuals to live their lives more independently. However, it must remain voluntary to avoid making people feel like they are being labeled according to their position on the spectrum.
Having this type of ID would allow first responders to better understand autism. Rather than thinking someone is acting defiantly by not cooperating with orders, they will learn that this person may not be able to respond to questions or directions.
“It will help set the stage that the person’s communication might not be typical, they might speak slowly, or not give information in the expected order,” said Diane Adreon, associate director of UM-CARD in a press release.
Being able to apply for a card will give people the choice to carry it around or not, which will make people more comfortable using the card. Since the card is kept inside a wallet, it will not always be broadcasting a personal medical condition.
It must also be regulated to protect it from abuse. Currently the application is online and does not require any medical or psychological assessments confirming a person’s disability. People without disabilities may decide to apply for a card to take advantage of the law.
Despite misconceptions about autism, individuals with autism are people who are out leading their lives – they just require some specific care. For many with autism, self-advocacy can be difficult. This card would give them some help in explaining their situation and in leading average lives in their communities.
If this ID card will allow people to feel more confident going out in their community, then it should be encouraged.
Ashley Martinez is a senior majoring in journalism and psychology.