Chattanooga police work with mom, autism center to create special needs ID program

An ID card for a special needs individual / Photo from the Chattanooga Police Department

One mother's social media plea led to the creation of a new voluntary ID program for special needs individuals in Chattanooga. The hope is to help mitigate communication concerns between law enforcement and those with conditions such as autism or dementia.

On March 11, Rhonda Pascual posted in the Chattanooga Autism Center's Facebook group inquiring if there might be an identification card that would help officers better understand her son.

"Are you aware of any type of card an autistic person can carry, informing police of their condition?" her post reads. "My adult son gets stopped by police quite often due to his Tourette's and Autism, when he takes a walk. He isn't drunk, on drugs or doing anything illegal, he is just autistic and makes noises (vocal tics)."

A Chattanooga Police Department lieutenant came across the post and passed the information on to Master Patrol Officer David Lewis, who works with the Chattanooga Police Department's Office of Community Outreach and Crisis Intervention Team.