Autism Society records most keynote and concurrent sessions at their annual conferences. You can see and hear those recordings by purchasing full online access, or individual recordings.
Sheila Wagner, an expert on inclusive practices, suggests there is much we can do to prepare for this probability (2010). Ms. Wagner proposes intervention/education needs to happen not only with law enforcement but the individual with an autism spectrum disorder and his/her family. This three pronged strategy targets all persons involved who have accountability in the interaction. Autism safety expert, Dennis Debbaudt has made a career of training law enforcement professionals how to interact with individuals who have autism spectrum disorders. Mr. Debbaudt, in collaboration with the Autism Society, has developed the Safe and Sound Initiative which includes information for families, professionals that support individuals with autism, and law enforcement officers. In an effort to address the “third prong,” the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities and the Autism Society of Northwest Ohio, in collaboration with the Toledo Police Department, developed a model for teaching transition youth and adults on the autism spectrum the hidden curriculum of interacting with law enforcement.
The importance of the hidden curriculum has been documented by Brenda Smith Myles and others in the field of autism. Encounters with law enforcement officers are a primary example of how not understanding the hidden curriculum could impact an individual’s safety.
The hidden curriculum is complex, elusive and can change overtime (Myles, Trautman & Schelvan, 2004). School age children are often told that police officers are our friends. We further teach school age children with an autism spectrum disorder how to interact with friends. Many of these skills are not appropriate for interacting with law enforcement as individuals with ASD get older. Consequently, in order to not put transition and older individuals with autism spectrum disorders at risk we must re-teach that law enforcement officers are authority figures that make assumptions based on expected and unexpected behavior and have a rigid protocol once a person has been arrested.
This presentation will describe the structure and curriculum of the training for youth and adults that was developed to address this need. The training was organized into two sessions. Parents/care providers met separately during the first session to hear an attorney involved with the juvenile justice system speak about competency. Parents/care providers were encouraged to sit in on the second session with the individuals.
The curriculum included:
The trainers will describe and show examples of the methods used to provide instruction including short lecture, Power Point presentations, video modeling, role play, visual supports, guest speakers, handouts, quizzes, review, and differentiated instruction. Visual supports and “classroom rules” used to maintain structure will also be examined.
Finally, the presenters will detail session planning and development, curriculum ideas, participant recruitment, the structure of the training, instructional methods, behavioral supports, evaluations, and follow up.
Participants will learn the hidden curriculum of interacting with law enforcement.
Participants will learn how to replicate a model to teach transition youth and adults on the autism spectrum the hidden curriculum of interacting with law enforcement.
Autism Society (n.d.) Safe and sound campaign. Retrieved December 9, 2010: http://www.autismsociety.org/site/PageServer?pagename=research_safeandsound
Debbaudt, D., & Rothman, D. (2001). Contact with individuals with autism: effective resolutions. The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. April 2001.
Myles, B., Trautman, M., & Schelvan , R.(2004). The hidden curriculum: practical solutions for understanding unstated rules in social situations. Shawnee Mission, KS. Autism Asperger Publishing.
Wagner, S., (2010). Inclusive programming for individuals with autism spectrum disorder: from kindergarten to adulthood [power point slide 32-46] Practical Solutions Workshop, Toledo, OH.
Content Area: Long-term Services and Support
Andie Ryley, M.Ed.
Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities
Linell Weinberg, MSW
Executive Director, Autism Society of Northwest Ohio
Autism Society of Northwest Ohio