It is an unfortunate reality that people with autism often face problems, including violence, when dealing with law enforcement. This is often due to a lack of autism understanding and training on the part of the police.
That being said, former cop and current autism mom, Stephanie Cooper created a program called ALERT—Autism Law Enforcement Response Training. She decided to do this after seeing her son, who is on the spectrum, have a positive interaction with a police officer. But she knew situations like this did not always happen, and that there was a lack of autism training programs for police. So she decided to take action; and thus, ALERT was born.
ALERT provides police officers with basic autism training—telling police how to identify people on the spectrum, what types of situations they might be involved in, and how to work with them. After they complete this class, officers receive a sensory kit—a box filled with things that can be used to help a person with autism, from practical tools like communication cards to calming tools like sensory items.
Cooper hopes this program reaches police departments in all 50 states. A training program like this could help foster greater understanding for police officers and safety for people with autism.
Do you believe Autism-Interaction Training should be mandatory for law enforcement agencies? Raise your voice by signing the petition!
A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.