Allegheny County, Pittsburgh – District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr
has commissioned the production of a DVD called “Encountering People with Autism“. The DVD is for police and other first responders who may come into contact with the public who have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
The project was encouraged by Scott Bailey, a full-time Allegheny County 911 emergency dispatcher and deputy district attorney Tom Swan. Both men have children who are on the autistic spectrum.
The aim of the DVD is to make officers more aware of autism and to help officers gain a better understanding of the condition.
The article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette states:
‘The hope is to avoid the possibility of officers or autistic persons being injured because an officer misinterprets the actions of a person with autism, which could include fleeing, repeating or not responding to warnings or commands’
The DVD will be distributed in early March to 100 police departments in the county as a training tool.
The video includes information from the Autism Center of Pittsburgh and scenes involving people with autism One scene shows a domestic disturbance with a witness who has autism and another a child with autism who wanders from her home.
The video highlights the need for police officers to identify themselves, to speak slowly and simply and to allow time for responses.
Most of the roles in the video are played by autistic individuals including Officer Bailey’s sons, Trevor, 15, and Trent, 14.
The original article by Michael A. Fuoco in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette can be read here