Autism & Law Enforcement - Training Resources/Videos
This page contains links to training articles and videos
Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board mandate
Autism & Developmental Disabilities
Illinois Police Training Provisions lists the minimum topics to be taught during the basic L.E. academy (50 ILCS 705/7) (from Ch. 85, par. 507). After graduation from the basic academy, officers are expected to receive refresher and in-service training during their careers. A board certified course is the preferred method of meeting this requirement, but agencies may also use other resources to enhance this training and reduce officer/agency liability via alternate resources.
One of the required topics is identifying and interacting with persons with autism and other developmental or physical7 disabilities and addressing the unique challenges presented by cases involving victims or witnesses with autism and other developmental disabilities2.
Any agency can use the below information as in-service training and keep record of it in their training files
What is Autism? Autism is a disability, the prevalence of which may have increased significantly in recent years, although there is much debate as to whether this is actually so or whether diagnostic and reporting patterns have simply gotten more efficient. While there is clearly a genetic basis for it, there is also debate about the causes of the disorder and the possible role that environmental factors may play.
Autism is characterized as a brain development disorder that results in impairment in communication and social interaction. Autistic individuals frequently engage in restricted and repetitive behavior. They are often most comfortable with routines—sometimes very rigidly, becoming easily upset by a new situation, the presence of an unknown person, loud noise, or unanticipated surprises. Often, their "response" may be a "meltdown," acting out, ritualistic behavior, inappropriate verbal statements, or other actions that may be viewed by some, mistakenly, as an indication of hostility, criminal intent, alcohol or drug intoxication, etc.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) include autism and related conditions Asperger syndrome and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified). The prevalence is currently estimated at 6 persons per thousand in the population. For some reason, there are four times as many males as females with these disabilities.
Those with Asperger's may have fewer problems with linguistic and cognitive development, but have limited empathy with others and may be physically clumsy. PDD-NOS is often milder than autism, with some, but not all, of the same symptoms.
From a third to a half of all persons with autism have such stunted speech development that they cannot meet their ordinary daily communication needs. Some may repeat others' words. Unlike mute persons, the difficulty is not physical inability to make sounds, but a neurological and cognitive problem. Some autistic persons have difficulty making and maintaining eye contact with others.
A police officer may mistakenly interpret this as "suspicious," having something to hide, or defiance, when in reality it is not being able to or not knowing how to respond appropriately, or even fear from what, to many, would be a routine social encounter. The result has sometimes, unfortunately, been rapid escalation of the encounter, with ensuing injury or death. (excerpt from AELE Journal)
links to training articles and videos
Updated June 19, 2018
1. Purdue University Global article Autism Spectrum Disorder & the Criminal Justice System
5. 10 Things Trainers Need to Know About Autism- Autism & Law Enforcement- PowerPoint presentation
6. Autism 101 - Autism Spectrum Disorder & Mild Interventions - PowerPoint presentation
7. Understanding What Autism Looks Like- 1st Responders - PowerPoint presentation
9. Sesame Street Autism Resources for Parents - http://autism.sesamestreet.org/
10. Reduce the Noise: Help Loved Ones with Sensory Overload Enjoy Shopping
11. Resources for Military Families
12. Academic Accommodation Resources
13. Estate Planning for Parents of Special Needs Kids
A roll call training video for police and other first responders who may encounter a person with autism in the performance of their duties. Allegheny County Chiefs of Police Association
A documentary for law enforcement in the State of California's Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) on how to recognize and respond to autistic individuals. Autism is a developmental disorder that is marked by difficulties in communication skills, social interactions, other behaviors such as play or leisure activities. This training is important because in a critical situation, autistics need to be treated with compassion and gentleness.Ed.D.: Janette De La Rosa Ducut