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Thursday, April 18, 2024


by Matthew E. Henry

State police in Massachusetts have begun implementing a program to improve interactions with people on the autism spectrum, building upon legislation that won Senate approval in January and remains before a House committee. —WBUR, April 10, 2024

the purpose: to support drivers with autism spectrum disorders 
during traffic stops. to ensure more sensitive communication
by law enforcement, drivers with ASD will hand a blue-backed 
envelope containing their license, registration, and a checklist 
of tips for the officer(s) on scene.
as a teacher, I wonder how this new social skill is scaffolded—
who reviews and instructs in advance of the practical exam. 
being Black, I wonder if this effort to reduce anxiety and 
enhance understanding, gave any thought to differentiating 
for ASD motorists of color. who carefully cautions them on


how to avoid and maintain eye contact 

and knowing the inherent dangers of both


how to calmly comply with contradicting orders


how to remain silent while being screamed at 


how to contend with the confusion of sarcasm 

or being called “boy” when over the age of 12 


how to hold hands at 10 and 2 until told otherwise


how and where to store their blue envelope


how and where to store their blue envelope for safe retrieval 


how to retrieve their blue envelope safely


how to remain safe while retrieving their blue envelope


how to make no sudden movements while retrieving their blue envelope


how to retrieve their blue envelope while making no sudden movements


how to forget Steven Washington, Stephon Watts, 

Dainell Simmons, Troy Canales, Osaze Osagie, 

Matthew Rushin, Ryan Gainer, and…

Matthew E. Henry (MEH) is the author of six collections, including the Colored page and The Third Renunciation. He is editor-in-chief of The Weight Journal and an associate poetry editor at Pidgeonholes and Rise Up Review. The 2023 winner of the Solstice Literary Magazine Stephen Dunn Prize, MEH is an educator who received his MFA yet continued to spend money he didn’t have completing an MA in theology and a PhD in education. You can find him at writing about education, race, religion, and burning oppressive systems to the ground.