How a Fear Helped Create a Law: The Passing of House Bill 2516

By Shelley Kelley

 

On this journey with apraxia, my husband and I have done our very best to make sure all of our son’s needs were met.  Speech therapy – check.  Occupational therapy – check.  Accommodations made at school – check.  As impossible as it is to do, we felt as though we had thought of everything and had made plans accordingly.  The one thing that never crossed our minds – even though my husband is a police officer – was the possibility of him being wrongfully arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance.

While that didn’t happen with our son – he’s only 11 – it did happen to the son of a close friend of ours.  He has apraxia and because of it, has slow cadence of speech. He was stopped on a routine traffic stop on the way home from work. Because of his slow cadence, delayed/slow processing (also common with apraxia), and poor eye contact, he was suspected to be driving under the influence.  James’s apraxia is global meaning his fine and gross motor skills are affected similar to his speech.  Because of this, James was unable to complete standardized field sobriety tests.

Even though he passed a preliminary breath test at the site of the stop, and a second test at the station, James was taken into custody for driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance.  Fortunately, James still lived at home with his mother.  After an ample amount of time had passed for him to be home from work, and not having heard from him, Beth began to worry.  It was only when she gained access to his computer to utilize his Find My Phone app that she discovered he was at the police department.  Upon arriving at the police department, Beth was mortified to learn James had been taken into custody under the suspicion of DUI and was awaiting arrival of a drug recognition expert to determine what substance he was on. Beth knew that was completely out of character for James and not possible since she had just visited with him on the phone.  Only after she explained James’s disorders to the arresting officer, and the officer conferred with fellow officers, was James released from custody – without charges.

What a traumatizing sequence of events for James and his mother.  Upon hearing of the incident, my husband and I were brought to a new reality.  In just a few short years, our son could very easily be in a similar situation.  Something HAD to be done, but what?   Let the trouble-shooting and brainstorming begin.

Several months – yet no solution – later, the following link was shared in my local Apraxia Kids Facebook group: https://www.newson6.com/story/39866276/caffey.  Natalie Mayberry, a graduate student at Tulsa University’s School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, had completed research on the level of awareness of communication disorders among law enforcement officers.  She also developed a training program and presented it to some of Tulsa’s officers.  This was the beginning of the solution to my calm my fears.

I immediately reached out to Natalie in effort to offer a parent’s perspective as well as support.  My husband, being a Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (C.L.E.E.T.) Certified Instructor, was able to offer his help in expanding the training program statewide.  In this initial conversation, I also told Natalie James’s story – changing the names to respect his privacy.  Hearing of this incident only motivated her more.  The momentum increases.

Out of respect for James and his mother, I contacted them to get their permission to tell of James’s incident before using it in any further trainings or promotions.  It was during that conversation that I learned legislation had been passed in the State of Ohio.  This legislation required the State to develop a voluntary database.  The database is for those with communication disorders, and it attaches – electronically – to their driver’s license as well as vehicle license plate.  This database allows law enforcement to be provided with information on the person’s communication disorder upon initial contact.  The ball is rolling now.

After obtaining links to Ohio’s legislation, I reached out to one of my local state representatives.  I had impeccable timing.  Representative Chris Kannady immediately contacted me and explained that a similar bill – only pertaining to those who are deaf, hearing impaired or have autism – had just passed in the House of Representatives and was sent to the Senate for approval.  He suggested I contact my local senator to inquire about amending the bill.  Senator Larry Boggs was eager to help.

To garner more support for the bill, I reached out to the senate Author, Senator Darrell Weaver, Senator Roger Thompson, and the original author, Representative Tammy West.  I was very open and heartfelt with the legislators explaining not only my concerns for my son from a mother’s perspective, but also for that of law enforcement officers who receive little to no education on communication disorders.

I told them James’s story and explained how through being married to a law enforcement officer, as well as having a career in the legal field, I could understand how easily an incident similar to James’s could happen at no fault to either party.  House Bill 2516 was amended by Senators Thompson and Weaver to add the words “apraxia or other communication disorder”.  The bill passed as amended and was sent back to the House of Representatives for a vote on the amendments.  After little discussion on the House floor, the bill passed as amended.  Next stop was Governor Stitt’s desk.

House Bill 2516 was signed into law by Governor Stitt on May 9, 2019.  The law went into effect on November 1, 2019.

Since the signing, Natalie has revised her training program and made improvements to training videos.  My husband has contacted CLEET in order to obtain certification for Natalie’s training program.  We are hoping to launch it soon.  I have been working with the legislative liaison for the Department of Public Safety on the development and implementation of the database.  Great things are soon to be happening in the State of Oklahoma.  AND THIS is how one mom’s fear helped to create a law.

 

Shelley Kelley is a volunteer outreach coordinator for Apraxia Kids and lives in Oklahoma. She has been a supporter of Apraxia Kids for a number of years through coordinating local events and attending national conferences. You can connect with Shelley by joining the Apraxia Kids Oklahoma group on Facebook [] or sending her an email at ShelleyK@apraxia-kids.org

By Shelley Kelley

 

On this journey with apraxia, my husband and I have done our very best to make sure all of our son’s needs were met.  Speech therapy – check.  Occupational therapy – check.  Accommodations made at school – check.  As impossible as it is to do, we felt as though we had thought of everything and had made plans accordingly.  The one thing that never crossed our minds – even though my husband is a police officer – was the possibility of him being wrongfully arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance.

While that didn’t happen with our son – he’s only 11 – it did happen to the son of a close friend of ours.  He has apraxia and because of it, has slow cadence of speech. He was stopped on a routine traffic stop on the way home from work. Because of his slow cadence, delayed/slow processing (also common with apraxia), and poor eye contact, he was suspected to be driving under the influence.  James’s apraxia is global meaning his fine and gross motor skills are affected similar to his speech.  Because of this, James was unable to complete standardized field sobriety tests.

Even though he passed a preliminary breath test at the site of the stop, and a second test at the station, James was taken into custody for driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance.  Fortunately, James still lived at home with his mother.  After an ample amount of time had passed for him to be home from work, and not having heard from him, Beth began to worry.  It was only when she gained access to his computer to utilize his Find My Phone app that she discovered he was at the police department.  Upon arriving at the police department, Beth was mortified to learn James had been taken into custody under the suspicion of DUI and was awaiting arrival of a drug recognition expert to determine what substance he was on. Beth knew that was completely out of character for James and not possible since she had just visited with him on the phone.  Only after she explained James’s disorders to the arresting officer, and the officer conferred with fellow officers, was James released from custody – without charges.

What a traumatizing sequence of events for James and his mother.  Upon hearing of the incident, my husband and I were brought to a new reality.  In just a few short years, our son could very easily be in a similar situation.  Something HAD to be done, but what?   Let the trouble-shooting and brainstorming begin.

Several months – yet no solution – later, the following link was shared in my local Apraxia Kids Facebook group: https://www.newson6.com/story/39866276/caffey.  Natalie Mayberry, a graduate student at Tulsa University’s School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, had completed research on the level of awareness of communication disorders among law enforcement officers.  She also developed a training program and presented it to some of Tulsa’s officers.  This was the beginning of the solution to my calm my fears.

I immediately reached out to Natalie in effort to offer a parent’s perspective as well as support.  My husband, being a Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (C.L.E.E.T.) Certified Instructor, was able to offer his help in expanding the training program statewide.  In this initial conversation, I also told Natalie James’s story – changing the names to respect his privacy.  Hearing of this incident only motivated her more.  The momentum increases.

Out of respect for James and his mother, I contacted them to get their permission to tell of James’s incident before using it in any further trainings or promotions.  It was during that conversation that I learned legislation had been passed in the State of Ohio.  This legislation required the State to develop a voluntary database.  The database is for those with communication disorders, and it attaches – electronically – to their driver’s license as well as vehicle license plate.  This database allows law enforcement to be provided with information on the person’s communication disorder upon initial contact.  The ball is rolling now.

After obtaining links to Ohio’s legislation, I reached out to one of my local state representatives.  I had impeccable timing.  Representative Chris Kannady immediately contacted me and explained that a similar bill – only pertaining to those who are deaf, hearing impaired or have autism – had just passed in the House of Representatives and was sent to the Senate for approval.  He suggested I contact my local senator to inquire about amending the bill.  Senator Larry Boggs was eager to help.

To garner more support for the bill, I reached out to the senate Author, Senator Darrell Weaver, Senator Roger Thompson, and the original author, Representative Tammy West.  I was very open and heartfelt with the legislators explaining not only my concerns for my son from a mother’s perspective, but also for that of law enforcement officers who receive little to no education on communication disorders.

I told them James’s story and explained how through being married to a law enforcement officer, as well as having a career in the legal field, I could understand how easily an incident similar to James’s could happen at no fault to either party.  House Bill 2516 was amended by Senators Thompson and Weaver to add the words “apraxia or other communication disorder”.  The bill passed as amended and was sent back to the House of Representatives for a vote on the amendments.  After little discussion on the House floor, the bill passed as amended.  Next stop was Governor Stitt’s desk.

House Bill 2516 was signed into law by Governor Stitt on May 9, 2019.  The law went into effect on November 1, 2019.

Since the signing, Natalie has revised her training program and made improvements to training videos.  My husband has contacted CLEET in order to obtain certification for Natalie’s training program.  We are hoping to launch it soon.  I have been working with the legislative liaison for the Department of Public Safety on the development and implementation of the database.  Great things are soon to be happening in the State of Oklahoma.  AND THIS is how one mom’s fear helped to create a law.

 

Shelley Kelley is a volunteer outreach coordinator for Apraxia Kids and lives in Oklahoma. She has been a supporter of Apraxia Kids for a number of years through coordinating local events and attending national conferences. You can connect with Shelley by joining the Apraxia Kids Oklahoma group on Facebook [] or sending her an email at ShelleyK@apraxia-kids.org



Credentials:
Hours of Operation:
Treatment locations:
Address:

,
Phone:
Email:

Overall Treatment Approach:
   

Percent of CAS cases:

Parent Involvement:
   

Community Involvement:
   

Professional consultation/collaboration:

Min Age Treated:

Max Age Treated:

Insurance Accepted: