In an effort to help its police officers better understand the needs of children on the autism spectrum, the Warrington Township Emergency Services team recently provided the officers with autism awareness training.
With one in 44 children in the U.S. diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, according to autismspeaks.org, it’s increasingly likely that a first responder will encounter someone on the spectrum. Research has shown that those with autism may be more sensitive to stimulus and react differently than others in a crisis situation.
Police officers can be better prepared for those situations if they are trained to know how to engage with someone on the spectrum. Across the country, public safety officials are being taught to deal more effectively with those with autism.
“We recognize the importance of training our police officers to be able to communicate effectively with adults and children of all abilities,” said Lee Greenberg, Warrington’s director of emergency services and code enforcement, in a statement.
Besides the sensory training, the Warrington Rotary Club gave officers autism sensory kits for their patrol cars. Each kit contains story boards, ear and eye protection and sensory toys and tools that can help calm someone on the autism spectrum, the township said.