When autism and law enforcement meet

Autistic people may find eye contact uncomfortable. They may rock back and forth or flap their hands, particularly when they feel anxious. And they sometimes have trouble answering questions — all traits that can confuse and alarm law-enforcement officers, firefighters and ambulance crews who aren’t trained to recognize autism. Add sensory sensitivities, a tendency to wander and higher rates of psychiatric problems to the mix and it’s easy see how encounters with first responders can be difficult — and even dangerous — for autistic people.

As many headlines attest, these brushes become fraught far too often, leading to violence and lasting trauma. In this special report, we explore what research tells us about these interactions.

Spectrum contacted 30 major police departments two years ago about their autism training efforts — and resurveyed 20 of them this year. We found that although growing numbers of departments provide autism-specific training, it varies widely in format and duration. And because of a lack of data, it is difficult to establish what constitutes effective training: Few police departments track details about calls involving autistic people or the effects of their autism training on officers.

Some experts and autistic self-advocates say that minimizing interactions with police and other first responders — relying on resources such as neighbors and mental health professionals instead — might be the only way to reduce the risk of violence against autistic people in a crisis. No training, no matter how good, is enough, they say.

Of course, interactions with the police are sometimes unavoidable. Although there is no evidence that autistic people are more likely to commit crimes than non-autistic people, this special report also includes articles on what happens when autistic people enter the criminal justice system and wind up behind bars. In these scenarios, too, a lack of knowledge about autism can lead to misunderstandings and abuse. Finding alternative ways to reform autistic offenders, involving therapy and specialized housing units, may offer a better solution.

The post When autism and law enforcement meet appeared first on Spectrum | Autism Research News.

Order by: 
Per page:
  • There are no comments yet
Related Feed Entries
The post Spotted around the web: Suicide rates, TCF4, rapid screening, face masks in an MRI appeared first on Spectrum | Autism Research News. Source: Spectrum News
2 days ago · From Spectrum News
Mutations that affect a histone called H3.3 can lead to a neurodegenerative condition marked by developmental delay and congenital anomalies, according to a new study. Histones act as spools for DNA, making it possible to pack the strands of genetic material tightly within the nucleus. They also ser…
2 days ago · From Spectrum News
Fusing dissimilar spheres of neurons enables researchers to model the circuit differences seen in a genetic condition linked to autism, a new study shows. Merging the 3D clusters in a lab dish at will — “almost like Legos” — can reveal how defects arise as neural circuits form, says lead investigato…
3 days ago · From Spectrum News
Mutations in the gene DNMT3A disrupt how other genes are turned on and off, and can lead to a range of neurodevelopmental conditions, a study in mice has found. The results hint at how mutations in DNMT3A, seen in people with autism and a related condition called Tatton-Brown Rahman syndrome, interf…
4 days ago · From Spectrum News
Art of Autism Creatives Share ‘Wassup’ In the New Year Compiled By Keri Bowers with help and special thanks to New Art of Autism Ambassador Linish Balan This Mash Up is dedicated to all of us who are emotionally and physically exhausted from the high-intensity dramas of 2020. Our wish is we can tap…
4 days ago · From The Art of Autism
0 votes
27.11.2020 (27.11.2020)
0 Subscribers