New Police Training for Autism Related Calls in Novi, Michigan

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As the prevalence of autism increases, emergency phone calls to police also increase. More phone calls are received by police today of families with an autistic children than ever before. Typically, the calls will include a cry for help to locate the child on the autism spectrum disorder. Generally, children might leave the house without their parents knowing they’ve left or where they’ve gone.

Police respondents are now implementing training task forces to better prepare officers in responding to these kinds of calls.

Kelly Roberts is an example of a mother who made an emergency call to local law enforcement asking for help in locating her autistic son, Blake, after he ran away from their home. Blake was quickly located at the edge of a lake nearby the family’s home in Novi, Michigan. At the time of Blake’s disappearance, he did not know how to swim and Kelly feared for the worst.

Scott Sheldon is an autism safety expert and educator for the police departments in Novi, Michigan, on autism-response emergency protocols. One of the first areas of instruction is educating response teams to search all areas of water near and around the missing person’s last location due to autistics being drawn to water.

Sheldon states, “We’re teaching respondents how to communicate, how to interact, and how to work with family member or care provider.” Sheldon believes that this training is critical since autistic individuals are seven times more likely to come in contact with the police in their lifetime.

Sargent Mark Boody spoke in support of the newly implemented training. “With this information, we understand that there are community members out there with autism and we can just take a different approach, and a better understanding.” Boody feels that the training helped him develop a better understanding of how his own behavior might affect someone with ASD, “we’ll know generally things that aggravate the person, things that calm the person, and ways to communicate.”

More information on this article can be found at Science Daily. This information was originally published by Associated Press.

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