Local lawmaker to push autism ID cards

ROTTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Raising a son on the spectrum is inspiring one local assemblyman to push for new tools to manage autism.

District 111’s Angelo Santabarbara says his son Michael’s struggle to communicate is part of what inspired his upcoming pitch– uniform autism identification cards.

The cards would be issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles and would aid in interactions usually complicated by autism like those with first responders.

“It gives them one more communication tool where my son may not be able to communicate,” Santabarbara said. “Finding this card, people will know that, and they’ll know how to handle the situation so it’s effective communication.”

The card would basically mimic a non-drivers’ license New York State identification card. On the front, it would have the person’s name and photo. On the back, it would list where the person is on the spectrum. It might also list emergency contacts.

Similar autism ID cards are already available in other states, including Alabama, but the assemblyman is already gaining local support for the idea. The Autism Society of the Greater Capital Region says as long as the cards are optional, they’re behind the idea.

“We’re not looking to label anybody,” Director Janine Kruiswijk said. “We don’t feel that there should be mandatory identification. We have a great belief in dignity and choice in our community, and if a tool can provide additional support, that’s fine.”

Assemblyman Santabarbara agrees that the cards should be optional and would not be required. He hopes to bring it before session in January 2016.

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