Deputies undergo training to better handle situations involving people with autism

Deputies undergo training to better handle situations involving people with autism
Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 4:22 PM EDT
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MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Deputies in Madison County are taking part in some unique training to better handle situations involving individuals with autism.

In 2021, the CDC reported one in 44 children in the United States is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Officials say this kind of training is long overdue.

Lt. Todd Allen with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office says the reaction someone with autism might have could easily be confused with someone resisting arrest or not cooperating with deputies. That’s why he wants the deputies to know the signs and how to react and handle those situations.

According to Autism Speaks, 40% of people with autism are nonverbal and nearly half tend to wander or bolt from safety.

Lt. Allen says, after seeing reports from other areas of situations that involved people with autism, he and the sheriff wanted to make sure that didn’t happen here.

“That’s something we certainly want to avoid. If you have someone who is on the spectrum, and maybe their caregiver has been involved in an accident and they’re incapacitated, what do we need to do to help this person that may not be able to speak very well, may not be verbal and get them the help they need,” Lt. Allen said.

For Lt. Allen, it’s also a personal mission.

“I can say from my own personal experience, my son likes his routine. Anything that throws him out of his routine - loud noises, certainly something like a violent crash, is going to trigger him,” Lt. Allen said.

The sheriff’s office is working with Lexington-based nonprofit My Autism Tribe to design the training.

“We would like for it to be completely widespread. We created it in a way where it can be as simple as dropping these video segments into any kind of platform a police department might have,” said Susan Mills, My Autism Tribe.

Susan’s son was diagnosed with autism when he was two. She works with groups and families around the world to educate and says this sensitivity training can be a launch pad.