Andrew Dietrick, a teenager with Asperger's syndrome, was also present at the ceremony and had the opportunity to joke and spend time with Rep. Murphy and Governor Daniels. Earlier this year, Dietrick testified before the House Education Committee to champion the moves called for in HEA 1428.
"Having Drew there to testify was essential to the success of the bill," Rep. Murphy stated. "He understands the challenges these kids face more than any of us in the General Assembly."
Last summer, Sherry Hudson, an Indianapolis Star employee and mother of a child with Asperger's syndrome, called Rep. Murphy to express her concern that children with Asperger's syndrome are misunderstood by school personnel and, consequently, are treated inappropriately in some situations. To illustrate her concern, the mother shared the story of a then recent event in which her son, Austin, was disciplined inappropriately by school officials.
Urged to action by the Hudson's story and concern for other children with autism and Asperger's syndrome, Rep. Murphy offered HEA 1428 to require every school corporation, special, and regular police officer who is assigned to a school to receive training on autism and Asperger's syndrome. The law also allows schools to offer one to three days of in-service training to other school personnel, such as teachers and administrators, so they may be well informed and prepared to handle the special needs of students with autism and Asperger's syndrome.
"The success of HEA 1428 proves that one concerned constituent can make a difference throughout Indiana," said Rep. Murphy. "A single phone call can help legislators realize the significance of issues affecting their districts and help us to recognize a positive course of action to pursue in legislation."
The legislation will take effect July 1, 2007.
Rep. Murphy encourages local constituents to contact him with questions or concerns through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling the Statehouse toll-free at 1-800-382-9841. It is also possible to write him at 200 W. Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46204.