Adult autism symptoms can be very perplexing to the un-initiated. In an autism emergency with police those characterics of autism could prove very dangerous to the autistic adult.
If your special needs sibling will be making a move to live in your community, you will need to do the same kind of education and awareness building with emergency personnel in your community. Here is a
for beginning a new autism awareness partnership with police.
There is an excellent series of training videos and programs produced by Dennis Debbault, a police officer himself and parent of an autistic child.
Watch this sample of the kinds of adult autism symptoms that must be shared.
"The first challenge is recognizing that someone has autism. Only about 50 percent of people with autism speak, and they do so in non-conventional ways. In one segment of the video, a young woman speaks rapidly, stringing together her address and phone number as a result of rote memorization. People with autism typically lack social skills and an understanding of societal norms. Consequently, others may perceive them as belligerent. This is demonstrated in a segment with a young man who seems to mock an officer when he repeats back the officer¹s exact words and commands due to an associated behavior called echolalia.
The video also illustrates how open to suggestion autistic individuals can be when interviewed. Four young adults are questioned individually about Miranda and their understanding of its meaning. When asked if they would "waive their rights," all four, with tentative smiles on their faces, raise their right or left hand to wave at the interviewer. This literal interpretation, as well as the desire to please others, can create confusion for investigators.
The segment on restraint and arrest highlights risks associated with physical control. People with autism typically lack the understanding that continued struggling may require officers to use a higher level of force to restrain them. Lights and sirens can create too much sensory input, causing even greater problems with communication and control. Approximately 40 percent of people with autism have seizures, which stress can trigger. Additionally, they may have underdeveloped trunk muscles making them unable to support their airways, which creates a high potential for positional asphyxia."
Sirens, loud noises, shouting, unfamiliar adults and uniforms, can be startling, if not trigger severe reactions in adults with autism. People with autism don't know "normal" limits or boundaries or expectations. They can be curious. What happens if an autistic adult reaches out to touch the officers badge or becomes intrigued and tries to grab a gun? Training of adults with autism of what to do in encounters with police should begin now. You'll need to talk to your aging parents about plans to start today.
resource that can help develop life skills
with police and emergency personnel.
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