Missouri 2024 Lesson Summaries
2024 Lesson 3: Autism
This lesson teaches law enforcement officers about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The first section explains the nature of ASD, including the criteria that form its diagnosis, current scientific theories about its causes, its prevalence in the general population, and available therapies. The second section explains how the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits police officers from intentionally discriminating against people with autism and failing to provide reasonable accommodations for them while officers are executing their law enforcement duties. This includes on-the-scene interactions, arrests, transportation, interrogations, and incarceration. The third section provides descriptions of common outward signs police officers can use to give officers clues that an individual may be on the autism spectrum. These include stimming, sensory sensitivities (including hypersensitivity to touch), delayed or lack of response to verbal commands, awkward stiff or loping gait, speaking in an odd cadence and tone, echolalia, and lack of normal eye contact (either extreme avoidance or staring). The fourth section outlines best practices for interacting with autistic individuals, including preventing the escalation of an encounter, effectively responding to wandering calls, increasing the effectiveness of interviews, and engaging in community outreach regarding autism.