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America's cops need help. They're underfunded, stretched too thin, and dealing with deeply divided communities every day. They're asked to do so much with very little!
When law enforcement budgets get tight, the first thing to go are training programs that are considered as 'extras.' These extras can be anything that senior members of the department believe doesn't directly keep officers safe.Autism-Interaction Training, for many departments, is often perceived as one of these 'extras.'
But that's not the right perspective. While rare in the general population, autism spectrum disorders are a reality in communities across the country. People on the spectrum are seven times more likely to come in contact with law enforcement than their nuerotypical peers. To properly do their job, law enforcement must understand how to interact with people on the spectrum, especially in the stressful or overwhelming situations that can prompt police interaction in the first place.
Many effective education programs already exist, but their implementation is piecemeal and dependent upon the funding and time being available in each department.
We can't stand back and continue to let autism-interaction training be a low-priority issue for our communities' police forces!
To help address the lack of universal training for our police on the unique circumstances the autism spectrum presents, we are calling upon the Justice Department to implement a mandatory, federally-funded education program that equips officers with the skills needed to identify and effectively interact with individuals on the autism spectrum. Sign the petition now!
To The Attorney General of the United States,
We are writing to you because we are concerned by the lack of universal police training when it comes to interacting with individuals on the autism spectrum.
According to the Autism Society of America, "Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first two years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults on the autism spectrum typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities."
Autism can present itself in many different ways, and people on the spectrum often respond to stressful situations differently from nuerotypical people. They are also seven times more likely to come in contact with law enforcement than their nuerotypical peers. Standard interaction protocols often are not as effective for people on the spectrum, and may even be harmful.
People on the autism spectrum are as much a part of America's communities as people of different races, ethnicities, or national background. As such, we demand that proper, universal training in interacting with people on the spectrum be required in police departments across the country, and that the federal government fund this training to ensure it occurs.
Please use your position to advocate for the autism spectrum community and help law enforcement be better prepared to interact with it. Lives are at stake.