Reducing Misunderstandings Between Police and People With Autism

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According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times article, "statistics suggest that they [people with autism] are seven times as likely as someone without autism to be involved with law officers as a victim, witness or offender." This happens both because law enforcement officers tend to misinterpret the behaviors of people with autism, and people with autism can have challenges with communication. The Autism Society of Los Angeles has been working with law enforcement and with people who have autism to reduce the misunderstandings and increase safety. Training for people with autism includes these suggestions of what to do if stopped by the police: "Don't run or reach into your pocket. Stay calm. Show them your hands. If you're handcuffed or put into a patrol car, be quiet, be patient, be still. If you're arrested, tell the officers you have a disability and ask to talk to a lawyer." The website below includes information on the "Be Safe" campaign that includes a DVD starring young people with autism role-playing police encounters, and a guidebook for parents, teachers and counselors.

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