Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) is a developmental disorder characterized by persistent problems in social communication and interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. Individuals with severe forms of autism may have a difficult time with everyday activities that significantly limit the kinds of things they do as an adult. Individuals with less severe forms of autism may appear to be perfectly normal, except in certain social situations where the impairment becomes more apparent. Autism may exist with or without accompanying intellectual and language impairments.
For individuals with autism, learning to interact with first responders is critical. On the other hand, it is just as essential for first responders to understand autism and be prepared to respond effectively and safely to situations that arise involving individuals on the spectrum. Calls for service related to an autistic individual can be challenging at best, so recognizing autism, understanding the risks, and learning methods of interaction is critical for a successful crisis resolution. Because police are usually the first to respond to an emergency, it is critical that these officers have a working knowledge of autism, and the wide variety of behaviors individuals with autism can exhibit in emergency situations. Teaching first responders the signs of autism is an important first step toward preventing unfortunate situations.
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