Scott Schuelke, who has 25 years' worth of law enforcement experience, has trained close to 10,000 people at 300 training seminars across the state [Michigan] and country in the past three years. His seminars are designed to provide details to police, firefighters and other first responders about the group of developmental disabilities that can involve language and social impairments and unusual, repetitious behaviors.
"We're teaching (first-responders) how to communicate, how to interact, how to work with a family member or care provider," said Schuelke, a retired Lansing police sergeant who now works as an autism safety specialist with the Autism Alliance of Michigan.
Mark Boody, a police sergeant in the Detroit suburb of Novi, Michigan, who has attended Schuelke's seminars, wishes he'd known earlier what he now knows about the disorder.
"After the training, thinking back, 'Wow. I bet that person (I encountered) could be someone with autism,'" Boody said. "Now, knowing that ahead of time, we're just not going to automatically assume the negative."