Recently, a new initiative has been launched to help ease communication between Orland Park police officers and individuals with autism, including those with communication needs.
This initiative by the name “Occupant with Autism program”, is essentially a program that allows the police department to be aware of whether an individual with autism lives in a particular household or is a passenger in a vehicle.
It also provides decals that can be displayed on the front door of a home or rear windows of a vehicle in order to notify a police officer in advance about an individual’s Autism condition.
In essence, this program aims to improve the interaction between officers and individuals with autism by allowing officers to adjust their approach based on their training and understanding that these individuals may not communicate or respond to verbal commands like others do.
The benefit of the new Occupant with Autism program
Previously, officers who didn’t have this knowledge may have perceived the individual’s behavior as non-compliant or resistant, potentially leading to misunderstandings and conflicts. With this program in place, officers can now be more mindfulÂ of the unique needs of individuals with autism, thus promoting a safer interaction for both parties.
To accomplish this, Orland Park’s police department provides its officers with specialized annual training in crisis intervention. This includes responding effectively to calls involving individuals experiencing mental health crises and interacting with those who have autism.
Police Cmdr. Ken Rosinski emphasizes that the training is meant to educate officers on how to accurately differentiate between someone experiencing a mental health crisis and someone with autism.
He also gives examples of how police officers can adjust their response based on the individual’s specific needs, such as turning off their vehicle sirens to avoid triggering sensory overload.
“If somebody is in crisis or nonverbal, we want to make sure that our officers are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to handle those situations.”
Rosinski adds that this program is not limited to Orland Park, as other communities have also implemented similar programs to improve their community caretaking efforts.
Can participants choose not to display the decal on their propertyÂ
Regarding privacy concerns, residents who do not wish to have a decal displayed on their property can still participate by completing a form and registering without the sticker. The Police Department will then discreetly flag the address in their dispatch system, allowing officers to be aware of an individual with autism at that location.
Those interested in participating in this overall program can register through the official website created for this program, orlandpark.org/owaprogram. In order to spread awareness and reach a wider audience, the village is utilizing social media platforms to publicize the program. Even nonresidents who work or attend school in the area are welcome to join through the registration process.
Autism Treatment & Support
You may also be interested in learning about Autism or perhaps need a therapeutic treatment for your loved one. Look no further than Illinois Autism Center – a reputable organization that provides evidence-based therapy for individuals with autism. Visit this page to learn more on treatment options.