New South Dakota House bill could help those with autism spectrum disorder


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – A recently introduced bill could be helpful for people living with autism spectrum disorder and lessen any worry they might have about getting behind the wheel of a car.

If passed, House Bill 1076 would make it an option for people with autism spectrum disorder to get a designation on their driver’s license. That designation would be helpful for law enforcement, should the person with autism ever get pulled over or need help.

Turning 16 and being handed your full driver’s license is a moment of freedom. But for others, it can be a moment of worry.

“If I were to be pulled over, I myself would be flustered. And routine is so important for children and adults who are on the spectrum. And driving to and from the same location everyday, they may do that just fine, but the second they get pulled over and there’s a change in that routine, they can be totally thrown off guard,” Lindsey Janklow, whose son has autism, said.

Vicki Virkus has a son on the autism spectrum. Although he is high-functioning and has his driver’s license, he’s been in the type of situation this bill is designed to help.

“He did jump out of the vehicle and run up to the cop and was pacing and waving his arms. It could’ve easily been interpreted as aggressive behavior to a law enforcement officer that did not know him,” VIcki Virkus, whose son has autism, said.

People living with autism spectrum disorder oftentimes have difficulty interacting and communicating with others, but every case is different. Neil Graff has a son is on the low-end of the spectrum and is non-verbal. Graff says it’s not always as obvious that some are on the spectrum.

“So I think it’s very important for various entities, law enforcement entities, government entities, any business that needs some identification to understand that when there is the autistic label on the ID, that there could be some problems in terms of communicating efficiently with that individual,” Neil Graff, whose son has autism said.

Representative Tom Pischke, who introduced the bill, told me earlier during a phone call with him that the bill was read for the first time during session Thursday and will soon go to committee.

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