Presentation on theme: "Autism Awareness For Law Enforcement Professionals & Community Service Personnel Presented by Barb Fogarty Autism Consultant MSD of Lawrence Township Schools."— Presentation transcript:
Autism Awareness For Law Enforcement Professionals & Community Service Personnel Presented by Barb Fogarty Autism Consultant MSD of Lawrence Township Schools
Autism and Community Issues: Law Enforcement and Community Service Personnel
AUTISM Autism is a neurological disability that is lifelong. Autism seriously affects the communication, social, and decision-making skills. Autism may be mild allowing the person to speak or it can be severe preventing the individual from using words. Persons with Autism can range in abilities from profound mental retardation to superior intellectual abilities. Autism is a neurological disability that is lifelong. Autism seriously affects the communication, social, and decision-making skills. Autism may be mild allowing the person to speak or it can be severe preventing the individual from using words. Persons with Autism can range in abilities from profound mental retardation to superior intellectual abilities.
Autism may affect as many as 1 per 150 people. It is four times more likely to occur in males than in females. Autism has no boundaries, it is found throughout the world in all ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic families. Autism has no boundaries, it is found throughout the world in all ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic families.
A police officer may encounter a person with Autism because they: n Impulsively escape from home, moving bus, school, etc., in search of their “M ission ” N eed for solitude, Desire to run, Buy a video, Get a coke from Wal-Mart, or a hamburger at White Castle
n Need to leave their previous location (too loud or bright, too crowded) n Become upset if things change from their routine (new caregiver, school, or environment, different route by bus or car, wearing different shoes) n Show no fear of obvious community danger (moving vehicles, manhole covers, construction sites, etc.) n May not obey traffic signals or be aware of pedestrians If a person with Autism becomes injured during any of these, EMS/community service personnel may encounter them.
Autism and Law Enforcement Roll Call Briefing Video n Dennis Debbaudt produced this video. He is a former professional investigator, who turned his attention to autism spectrum disorders in 1987 after his son was diagnosed with this condition. n Video features 15 children and young adults at various points on the autism spectrum. n It offers tips and options for communication and responses designed to successfully resolve a call involving a a person with autism
When police officers and community service personnel first encounter an individual with Autism, the person may: n Invade your personal space (stand too close, blow, lick, spit) n May repeat words, body language, or mimic emotional state of an officer n Appear deaf when spoken to and unable to respond to requests n Respond to requests by laughing, giggling, or repeating (“echo”) any requests n Become upset / tantrum, unable to make their needs known
n Never lie but be unable to retell facts, events, or details n Give little or no eye contact even upon request / demand n Be sensitive / upset from lights, sounds / sirens, being touched n Carry object(s) for comfort / security or need to manipulate them n Have extremely high threshold for pain and may be able to escape holds, handcuffs, and restraints
n May be nonverbal or may communicate with sign language or picture cards or use gesturing or pointing. n May not respond to “Stop” command, may run or move away when approached, may cover ears and look away constantly. n May not respond to an order or others may drop to the ground and rock back and forth n May toe-walk or have clumsy gait. n 40% of individuals with autism have seizures
n May appear as high on drugs, drunk or having a psychotic episode. n May react to sudden changes in routine with escalation of repetitive behavior such as spinning, hand flapping, pacing, screaming, hitting self, etc. n May attempt to present with an information card; may wear medical alert jewelry or have information sewn or imprinted on clothes.
n May not recognize police vehicle, badge, or uniform or understand what is expected of them if they do. n May appear argumentative, stubborn or belligerent; may say “No!” in response to all questions; may ask “Why?” incessantly n May be poor listeners n May use passive, monotone voices n May have difficulty using correct volume
n May perseverate on favorite topics n May have difficulty in seeing things from a different point of view or predicting other persons’ reaction to them. n May have difficulty understanding social situations, cues, and responses. n Maybe attracted to shinny objects and reach for badge, radio, keys, belt buckle or weapon
When police officers and community service personnel respond to a person with Autism they should: n Talk in short, direct phrases (“Stand up”, “Go to car”, “Sit”). n Phrase directions in the positive (“Hold still.”). Avoid giving directions in the negative (“Stop struggling.”). n Use a calm, even voice (talking louder will increase stress and decrease understanding) n Remain calm keeping a safe distance when individual’s behavior escalates
n Allow the individual several seconds to understand and process request. Model expected behavior (hands on car, behind you) Model expected behavior (hands on car, behind you) n Avoid expressions with other meanings: (“Spread eagle”, “Are you pulling my leg?” “waive your right?”)
n Person may not understand your defensive posture/body language. Use low gestures for attention; avoid rapid pointing or waving; tell person you are not going to hurt them n Avoid behaviors and language that may appear threatening n Look and wait for response and/or eye contact when comfortable, ask to “look at me”; don’t interpret limited eye contact as deceit or disrespect
n If possible, avoid touching the person, especially near shoulders and head. n Avoid stopping repetitive behaviors unless self-injurious or risk of injury to yourself or others. n Evaluate for injury. Person may not ask for help or show any indication of pain; even though injury seems apparent.
n If possible, turn off sirens and flashing lights and remove canine partners or other sensory stimulation from scene. n Consider use of sign language, or picture, or phrase books.
A pproach the person in a quiet, non-threatening manner. U nderstand that touching the person with autism may cause the protective “fight or flight” reaction. T alk to the person in a moderated and calm voice. I nstructions should be simple and direct, avoiding slang. S eek all indicators to evaluate the situation as it is unfolding and be willing to adjust your actions accordingly. M aintain a safe distance until any inappropriate behaviors lessen but remain alert to the possibility of outbursts or impulsive acts. (Debbaudt and Rothman 2001)
If a police officer suspects an individual may have Autism, they should be isolated from the general incarcerated population. Request a mental health professional to evaluate them. In addition to their Autism the individual may have medication issues, seizures, or other medical conditions that may require attention.