April 2 was World Autism Awareness Day and the entire month of April is Autism Awareness Month. In order to bring awareness around Autism in their local communities and to prepare police officers as well as Autistic individuals to safely interact during a traffic stop, three different police departments have organized the following activities and events.
Douglas County, Nevada
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office recently unveiled a new vehicle with special decals to raise awareness in the community around Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Autism Recognition Alert Program. The Autism Recognition Alert Program enables first responders to identify individuals with special needs if they were to come in contact with them. Through this program, the Sheriff’s office is better equipped to help people with disabilities.
The program has a database that families can use to register their family members who may need help. Post enrollment, individuals are provided with ID cards that they can present during a police encounter. Through this program, the Sheriff’s Office wants to take a proactive approach with people on the Autism spectrum, their family members, and caregivers while improving police officers’ awareness and responses to Autistic people, encouraging early detection and de-escalation during a stop.
City of Elgin, Illinois
To raise awareness around what’s expected from teenagers with Autism during a traffic stop, the Elgin Police, in partnership with The Autism Hero Project, will be holding the “heroes Unite to Raise Autism Awareness” event on April 10, 2021 from 1 to 4 PM. Through interactive traffic stop demonstrations, young adults with Autism will be able to learn what’s expected from them and how to interact with police during such stops. This event will also have children’s activities, a sensory area and various resources for families.
Teenagers with Autism getting pulled over is one of the main concerns for parents. It’s not easy to respond to stressful situations and even a slight hand movement by the teen can give police the wrong impression, making the situation even more tense. This type of awareness events can bring comfort to the parents and teens.
This event will be held at the Elgin Police Department at 151 Douglas Avenue, Elgin.
Gloucester Township, New Jersey
As part of World Autism Awareness Day, the Gloucester Township Police Department unveiled a new walkway right outside their building that reads “Support Neurodiversity”. In addition, they also unveiled a new seatbelt cover that can identify a person with Autism and alert police officers during traffic stops and accidents. The seatbelt notifies the officer that the individual may not respond, or even be aware they are in danger and may resist help.
Do your local police or other departments have such events to raise Autism awareness in your communities? Let us know in the comments below.