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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Autism Registry

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss interactions between first responders and autistic people.  Police officers need training to respond appropriately.  When they do not, things get out of hand.

At WJLA-TV in Washington, Jay Korff reports:
[Brad and Kenny Benjamin] are among an estimated 3.5 million Americans who are on the autism spectrum. They and their parents, Joyce and James Benjamin have formed a first ever National Autism Registry that works specifically with first responders.
"We are trying to give the officers a heads up on what they are dealing with and train them on how they can deal with it," says Joyce Benjamin.
Registry members get a wearable USB device, adorned with the autism emblem of a puzzle piece in a yield sign, which gives officers critical information about the person they're dealing with.
The Benjamins want to avoid recent cases in which people on the spectrum have been unnecessarily hurt during encounters with police.
This week the Benjamin family sat down with Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski. His agency is the first to dole out registry decals and advice to officers on how to better intact with people on the autism spectrum.
The Benjamin's tell us the registry is voluntary and families can opt out at any time.
They hope police agencies across the country partner with them. For now, Prince George's County and several other Maryland counties, including Calvert, Charles, St. Marys, Talbot and Queen Anne's, have agreed to partner with them.