Agency reverses change to website requiring all autistic drivers to declare their condition
The DVLA has today issued a statement confirming that autistic drivers are only obliged to complete a medical declaration if their condition affects their driving. Twitter users had noticed that the agency’s website had been updated to require drivers to declare autism and ADHD in all cases, a change from the previous wording which requested disclosure only if a person’s ability to drive a vehicle was affected. The updated policy, which had not been announced, warned that drivers failing to disclose the conditions risked a fine of £1,000.
Following several days of discussion on social media and representations from the National Autistic Society, the DVLA released the following statement on their Twitter account:
“In our attempt to clarify the advice for drivers with autism spectrum disorders we’ve clearly muddied the waters and we’re very sorry for that. We have amended the advice on http://gov.uk for both drivers and medical professionals which make it clear that a driver who has an autism spectrum disorder only need tell us if their condition could affect their driving.”
Following a consultation exercise in January 2018, the Department of Transport has announced that from 2019, hidden disabilities such as autism will be included in the Blue Badge scheme. This gives individuals and carers access to disabled parking spaces, which can make a big difference in leading an independent life.
The previous Blue Badge scheme prioritised physical disabilities, with eligibility of autism and other hidden conditions being open to interpretation by local authorities. The new scheme explicitly includes those who:
cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism)
cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable psychological distress
More information on the forthcoming changes is available on the Government website. The announcement has been reported by BBC News and other national news websites.
Many people on the autism spectrum find talking on the phone difficult and prefer to communicate via email, text or social media. But what if you needed to call 999 in an emergency?
emergencySMS is a free service that allows you to use SMS (text messaging) to contact any of the UK 999 services (police, ambulance, fire & rescue or coastguard). It’s available for anyone who finds making a voice call difficult, including members of the autistic community. To use the service, you need to pre-register your phone on the website – we recommend you do it now so it’s ready to use when you need it.