Avoiding unfortunate situations: Autism and law enforcement

Charles Fox, on his Special Education Law Blog, has a link to and discussion of the report Avoiding Unfortunate Situations. From the report’s introduction:

Law enforcement agencies in the 21st Century are embracing community policing and better education for their increasingly diverse workforce. There is also a growing interest in the global autism community to bring public awareness of autism and the people it affects to law enforcement professionals. As a parent of a young man with autism and reporter/researcher on this topic since 1991, I hope to bring you useful information about autism and the law enforcement community. Sharing critical autism recognition and response information with our law enforcement, first response, criminal justice and educational communities is my mission. The goal? Better community experiences for everyone.

I’m telling the world about our stories in the best way I can: through my books and articles, through train-the-trainer workshops for law enforcement, first responders, and educators, and through the media. Autism awareness and education for law enforcement, emergency response and criminal justice professionals is a personal, and now, professional part of my life. Public awareness–telling others about our everyday lives as families affected by autism–is a key element of my personal and professional advocacy. Positive outcomes for our loved ones can be the result when we take the time to educate others about autism spectrum disorders. I want to tell your stories, too. Let me know what they are.

A couple of key discussion points that Charles raises:

One of the truly remarkable statistics referenced in this report is that”[p]ersons with autism and other developmental disabilities are estimated to have up to seven times more contacts with law enforcement agencies during their lifetimes (Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services News In Print, Winter, 1993).” In view of the likelihood of contact between law enforcement and persons with disabilities, these guidelines should be considered in developing IEP goals, BIPs and transition plan goals.

The level of candor of this report is refreshing. It openly states in the training section for police that “[a]utism issues remain un-addressed in standard police officer training programs.” … Moreover, one area of inquiry should be to your local police, fire and paramedics as to their level of autism training and awareness.

The main part of the report includes sections on What Families Can Do To Reduce Police Interactions and Information for Persons with Autism. The site also includes a Law Enforcement Handout.

I’ve not had a chance to read through it completely, but have added it to my (all too long) reading list. I’ll also be looking at it as a possible addition to Autism for Parents. Let me know what you think.

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