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Training Program Helps Law Enforcement Officers Better Understand Autism Spectrum Disorder

By The CCM Team

It is heartbreaking to watch the TV news and see yet another unnecessarily violent confrontation between law enforcement and a person with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While it has been noted that the incidence of ASD in children and adults is rising, thanks to a unique training program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital these confrontations could become less frequent.

In the fall of 2019, Carla Ramos, a community service officer with the St. Petersburg Police Department and mother of two children, ages 8 and 6, took the unique and specialized training at Johns Hopkins All Children’s to learn how to achieve better outcomes when involved with individuals with ASD. Part of the training involved watching videos of members of law enforcement interacting inappropriately with children with ASD.

“It made me think of my own children and how I would not want them treated that way,” Ramos says. “It brought tears to my eyes.”

Before the training, she had had no duty call experience involving those with ASD. However, in her role as a community service officer, she serves people in neighborhoods and works with community leaders to solve problems. The ASD training, she says, will help in that effort as ASD has become a growing problem.

Lauren Gardner, Ph.D., administrative director of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital autism program, runs the Johns Hopkins All Children’s training program aimed at helping law enforcement officers use de-escalation strategies when in crisis situations involving individuals with ASD.

Read the full story by Randolph Fillmore

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