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STUDY GUIDE AUTISM AND POLICE RESPONSE Carrie Von Sagun - 30 April 2007 Synopsis: The purpose of this

video is to provide you with a review of how to effectively interact with a person who has an autism spectrum. FACTS ABOUT AUTISM:

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Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability There has been a 4000% increase in diagnoses since the 90's. Police officers are 7x more likely to come into contact with a person with a developmental disability than the average person 50% are non-verbal 70% also have mental retardation Affects boys more than girls but occurs in all races, social, ethnic backgrounds Unknown cause but attributed to environmental toxins Delays or abnormal functioning prior to age 3

CHARACTERISTICS OF AUTISM: Stop, Look & Listen Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. There are three noticeable areas of impairment before the age of three:

Marked impairment in social relationships: Poor social and emotional reciprocity and/or poor non-verbal behaviors such as avoiding eye contact, lacking facial expressions, dislikes touch, avoids peer relationships, etc. Marked impairment in language and communication: Either a delay in, or total lack of development of the spoken language OR adequate speech but the inability to initiate or maintain a conversation Unusual behavior: restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities

Study Guide Cont: Autism and Police Response WHEN RESPONDING TO A CALL OFFICERS SHOULD:

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TURN OFF LIGHTS & SIRENS TURN DOWN THE RADIO ASK UNNECESSARY PEOPLE TO LEAVE AREA AVOID ALL UNNECESSARY TOUCHING NOT ATTEMPT TO STOP SELF-STIMULATING BEHAVIOR (Spinning, flapping, jumping, etc) FIND SOMEONE THAT KNOWS THEM AND GAIN INFORMATION MINIMIZE GESTURES USE CLEAR, CALM AND DIRECT COMMANDS AVOID OC SPRAY (*Note they often have sensory difficulties and may have an abnormal reaction or no reaction at all) AVOID POSITIONAL ASPHYXIA DURING TAKEDOWN-TURN THEM ON THEIR SIDE (*Note they have underdeveloped trunk muscles and are likely unable to support regular breathing when there is pressure on their chest) BE AWARE THAT A SUDDEN REMOVAL OF EXTERNAL STIMULI (TV, loud music) MAY RESULT IN A CONFRONTATION, PARTICULARLY IF THE PERSON IS FIXATED ON THAT STIMULI

HOW TO QUESTION/INTERROGATE:

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Use non-verbal communication (Writing, pictures, sign language, etc) Ask pre-test questions to ascertain if they understand and let them know it is okay to say no Understand that persons with autism may tend to answer yes to every question, without any understanding of the question, which can lead to confusion when gathering facts or trying to form a conclusion when interrogating

SUMMARY: Autism Spectrum Disorders may or may not be immediately obvious to citizens or police officers. However, officers must realize that they will encounter persons with mental disabilities throughout their careers. By taking proactive measures to educate ourselves and our community members, we can achieve a successful outcome when responding to situations in which persons with a developmental disability are involved.