Chicago police autism friendly
Senate passes bill mandating autism training for Illinois law enforcement officers

There’s been an ongoing concern related to the safety of individuals with autism, more especially when it comes to their interactions with Illinois law enforcement. As any other autistic mom or dad knows, it is usually a great source of worry to have your child go through an interaction with police or, let’s say, law enforcement.

A simple traffic stop could quickly escalate if the officer misinterprets their behavior, such as lack of eye contact or need for repetition, as non-compliant.

Autism Characteristics

Many individuals who are not well versed in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may not know that it is a condition impacting both communication and behavior. Those with ASD might struggle with grasping signals, expressing their requirements, and managing their feelings. It’s easy to see how these obstacles could lead to confusion and misconceptions during interactions with law enforcement.

Some individuals have expressed worries about the fear of being accused of a crime because of their behaviors. Additionally, there are instances where people have encountered the use of force by Enforcement. On the side, law enforcement officers also have their worries. For example, most officers are trained to rely on verbal communication, while individuals with autism may have limited or different means of expressing themselves.

Addressing the Issue

To address this issue, Illinois is looking forward to passing a bill that will require all law enforcement officers to undergo training on the autism spectrum every three years. This specialized training is not meant to just educate officers on the characteristics of autism, but also equip them with appropriate responses, techniques and procedures when interacting with individuals with autism. The course will be developed or approved by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board.

Teacher Toro, who has previously taught numerous students with autism, emphasizes the importance of educating families, friends, and teachers on how to support individuals with diverse needs.  Toro believes that Law enforcement should also undergo such training to ensure proper understanding and handling of individuals with autism.

Similar initiatives have been launched in other cities and towns, such as the “Occupant with Autism program” in Orland Park. For Oakland individuals with autism, this program provides decals to display on their homes or vehicles, giving police officers advanced knowledge of the presence of an individual with autism. This pre-warning allows for more effective and understanding communication between officers and those with autism.

Autism Support

These are positive initiatives that promote inclusion and understanding of individuals with autism in law enforcement interactions. It allows for a more informed and compassionate approach, leading to better outcomes and experiences for both parties involved. Also, it’s worth adding that finding out whether you or your loved one is Autistic is the first step towards seeking help and support.

Organizations like Illinois Autism strive to provide these resources and support for individuals on their journey with autism. With quality ABA therapy and highly trained professionals, IAC is a reliable option for those seeking assistance in managing and understanding autism.