Autism and Law Enforcement – Part 1

Autism and Law Enforcement – Part 1

Why is it important to discuss autism and law enforcement?

Individuals on the autism spectrum struggle to communicate and/or interact within the community.

They panic and appear nervous.

On the other hand, it is the job of law enforcement to contain a situation and/or prevent a crime.

However, can a police officer recognize the signs/common attributes of a typical ASD individual?

Would the officer respond with some level of force to an ASD person?

Why is this important?

Because incidents have led to confusion and in rare cases arrests and/or injury.

Training programs for law enforcement

This is important because we need to teach a law enforcement representative what signs to look for in determining if an individual is on the spectrum.

We need to avoid unnecessary confusion. More importantly, we need to avoid potential deadly reactions.

Ideally, the law enforcement personnel can recognize autism and react accordingly.

That’s my hope for one day.

Why is this important?

Because individuals with an ASD do not always react in a “socially accepted” way.

They often get stressed quickly. In other words, they may or may not understand what is being said to them and why.

They may be told to lie on the ground. They hate getting dirty, so they panic.

A lot of individuals with an ASD shake their hands because they’re nervous.

They have reactions that are different, and these reactions need to be recognized by law enforcement.

What could a situation look like?

Let’s say a young adult with an ASD is pulled over or confronted by a police officer.

In this situation, stress may happen sooner with this individual. This may make the officer feel on edge.

In many situations, a person with autism regulates their body.

For instance, they can do a fast walk. They flap their hands. Some clap. They put their hands over their ears (and a lot more). 

Above all, an older person with an ASD can take care of themselves. If stressed, they will try to regulate their bodies.

Does a law enforcement representative understand this?

Can the police recognize the difference between an aggressive action and a person who needs to regulate their body?

That is my concern.

The difference between autism and an aggressive action.


With proper instruction, I believe they can. The situations with the police can be improved.

In conclusion, there is a common middle ground between law enforcement and autism.

Autism and Law Enforcement – Part 1

In my next blog, I will discuss my own child when it comes to law enforcement interactions.

Here is some more information on autism and law enforcement:

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