First responders are a vital asset to our every day lives. They encounter multiple emergency situations a day where they are trained to handle various types of individuals.
When it comes to dealing with a child who has autism, there are many things that law enforcement officers are trained to understand.
Such as a child with autism will:
- Avoid eye contact
- Repeat themselves
- Hand flap, pace, rock back and forth and stims
- Have sensory perception problems
- Have delayed speech
- Not respond to commands
It is imperative that law enforcement officers are trained to handle autistic children during any emergency situation. In some instances, law enforcement officers were unaware of a child/adult with autism and categorized them as a human being who was fully capable of handling their emotions, and acted irrationally towards them. In an article, ”Why police need training to interact with people on the spectrum”, there are examples of dealings between autistic children/adults and police officers.
In these situations, people with autism deliver traits that a law enforcement officer might think of as suspicious behavior. When officers act on their instincts, the light, sound, touch and feel could affect the person with autism drastically.
This is why it is vital for police officers to know how to react and handle a person with autism when they encounter them.
Dr. Montgomery Trains Law Enforcement Officers on Dealing with Autistic Children
For over 7 years, Dr. Robert Montgomery has trained Law Enforcement Officers, locally, on how to handle people with autism. Initially it was through the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and recently it has been taken over by the Georgia Public Safety Training Center. He presents to officers quarterly on Autism and Developmental Disabilities who are taking the Crisis Intervention Team training. All of these officers are from Northwest Georgia police/sheriff departments and all are working in the field. The training is an effort to orient them on how they might encounter people with Autism in their duties, what they might be able to do to help, and how to avoid common mistakes in interacting with people with Autism, particularly in tense situations.
“I enjoy helping our front line LEOs with a little information about what I do and how they can be better at their job if they encounter someone with Autism.”
Dr. Montgomery has spoken at numerous training events but most recently spoke at the North Central Georgia Law Enforcement Academy in Austell and is scheduled to speak at another Georgia Public Safety Training Center class at Kennesaw State University in November.
If you are interested in having Dr. Montgomery come and speak to law enforcement officers on how to handle children with autism, give us a call at (770) 591-9552.