A group of law enforcement officers and first responders gathered in Homewood, to hear and learn about how they can better interact with people on the Autism spectrum.
Dennis Debbaudt, law enforcement trainer, has some very helpful tips that don’t only benefit officers but civilians as well. During the training, the officers learned how to identify the many, many signs of Autism. Police officers, fire fighters, teachers, everyone needs to be aware of Autism. Learning how to identify it and how to deal with it in a way which benefits what you are trying to achieve as well as with respect to the other person is the most important factor here.
Ask your employer to offer you training if you are in constant interaction with members of the public in your line of work.
Here are some things you can be aware of whether you are an officer, employee, employer, customer or just a stranger sitting at the next table or on the bus.
Sometimes they won’t initiate conversation, especially if they are in distress, or in a loud place. Don’t stare.
Speak slowly and use simple language. You may notice that the person isn’t making eye contact when approaching you or talking to you, or maybe taking a while longer to reply, make sure you have been clear in what you have said. Short and to the point is how our kids like it.
Use concrete terms.
Repeat simple questions. You may not get a response, you may have someone walk off, you may get a full on conversation. You never know with the spectrum, so you need to be prepared for all situations. Things you may consider rude coming from any other customer won’t be the same with someone on the spectrum.
Allow time for response.
Do not attempt to physically block self-stimulating behaviour. It might be a twitch, a flap, a noise, shaking, it could be anything. They are not going to attack you, that’s just how they move. You would try and physically restrict someone scratching, sneezing. It’s a physical reaction they cannot control.
Well done to the officers, a real tribute to make a commitment to get this training.
Educate yourselves about Autism.
Share your knowledge and experience with others, with your family. You can touch, change another persons life just by not staring at them, with a single work, or smile.
So smile, and learn about Autism.