A Bulletin from Dennis Debbaudt

This, in my inbox from Dennis Debbaudt deserves the widest circulation. For more information contact Dennis at ddpi@flash.net

Hello Everybody, I’ve never put out a bulletin before, but, with the recent rash of tragic reports about autism related contacts with law enforcement, I hope you will indulge this one bulletin. You can help support the Safe and Sound conference in Minneapolis by circulating the information below to your local and regional police or fire chief, sheriff, law enforcement, first response juvenile and criminal justice and emergency medical professional, training officer or supervisor, prosecutors, and judges who are responsible for training development and implementation.

Disability training is a growing issue for 21st century public service agencies. Many agencies are now seeking out high quality, effective and upgraded disability training materials and opportunities. The Safe and Sound conference offers exactly that. Whether the information from the conference is used as a stand alone training on autism spectrum disorders–or to blend spectrum issues in with already ongoing disability training, the conference has the stuff they need. With a little outreach, we can help our regional agencies or larger agencies to plan to send a training unit scout or officer to attend the conference and return with the tools they can choose to use to help upgrade their training, anticipate community needs, and address those needs before, not after, a predictable contact occurs. Please help by sending this email out to your lists–and especially to your contacts in law enforcement, first response and criminal justice professions.

Thank You! Dennis Debbaudt

Please Circulate Far & Wide! This is greatly appreciated!

National Safe & Sound Training Series Minneapolis, MN August 26-27, 2006 July 2006

Dear First Responder Professional: WHO/WHAT IS ASA? Over the last 40 years, the Autism Society of America, has grown from a handful of parents, into the leading source of information, research, and reference on autism. ASA is the oldest and largest grassroots organization within the autism community. Today, more than 120,000 members and supporters are connected through a working network of nearly 200 chapters nationwide. ASA membership continues to grow as more and more parents and professionals unite to form a collective voice representing the autism community. [ www.autism-society.org ] ASA is dedicated to increasing public awareness about autism and the day-to-day issues faced by individuals with autism, their families and the professionals with whom they interact. The Society and its chapters share a common mission of providing information and education, and supporting research and advocating for programs and services for the autism community.


As part of ASA¹s national goal of helping those with autism and thereby helping those who protect those with autism understand the condition, the National Safe and Sound Training Series will help law enforcement, emergency response, and criminal justice professionals recognize the behavioral symptoms and characteristics of a child or adult who has autism, learn basic response techniques, learn about the high risks associated with autism, and will thoroughly review and explore autism-related training tools, techniques, specialized tactics and options that will help agencies and trainers to increase safety, lower risk and avoid litigation.


The rate of autism has grown over ten-fold since the late 1990’s, from 1 in 2,500 to 1 in every 166 births (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2004).

Research indicates that persons with developmental disabilities including autism are approximately seven times more likely to come in contact with law enforcement professionals than a member of the general population (Curry et al, 1993 cited in Debbaudt & Rothman, FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, April, 2001).

Children and adults with autism now live, work, go to school and recreate in the community. Law enforcement, first response and criminal justice professionals will have field and investigative interactions with children and adults with autism, their parents and care providers.

The Safe and Sound Conference is designed to make these interactions safer, less stressful, and more informed. Everyone will come away with a good, practical understanding of the best approaches when they interact with children and adults who are affected by autism spectrum disorders.

People with autism are as different from each other as we all are. They may inherently present autism spectrum-based behaviors and characteristics in different combinations and degrees. Each person will have a different level of independence as well. Some persons with autism will have a caregiver with them at all times. Others will live semi or fully independent lives. Both may have public safety or criminal justice contacts.

You will hear terms such as low functioning autism, high functioning autism, and Asperger syndrome to describe the condition. In many cases, the person will have difficulties following your verbal commands, with reading your body language, and will have deficits in social understanding. As with Alzheimer’s patients, children and adults with autism may wander away from care and into danger.

Whether as offender or victim-witness, persons on the autism spectrum will present dilemmas in the interview and interrogation room. Their concrete answers, conceptions, and reactions to even the most standard interrogation techniques can cause confusion for even the best trained, seasoned veterans. Autism-specific training can help criminal justice professionals save time and resources, avoid taking misleading statements or false confessions and conduct interviews that elicit evidence and accurate testimony.

This training can help law enforcement, first response and criminal justice agencies to:

… Become Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliant

… Increase Responder and Citizen Safety

… Enhance Current Training

… Strengthen Communication and Response Skills

… Save Valuable Time and Resources

… Avoid Litigation

… Build Community Partnerships The National Safe and Sound training will focus on:

… Autism definition, recognition and response

… Common autism behaviors and characteristics

… Public safety issues

… Criminal justice issues

… Initial contact options

… Establishing communications

… Behavioral de-escalation techniques and specialized tactics

… Restraint and arrest options

… Fire Rescue, Paramedic and Hospital Emergency Room Issues

… Perpetrator and victim trends

… Dilemmas in interrogation and interview settings

… Working proactively with families, advocacy organizations and school systems

… Model programs

… Cross educational opportunities Why this is important for the autism community?

… To develop police contacts who can help solve problem issues as they arise.

… To develop contacts among law enforcement professionals who can present on police awareness in classrooms, group homes, work places and autism society meetings.

… To become reliable resources of autism information for law enforcement and emergency service agencies.

… To educate ourselves and others in the autism community about the needs of law enforcement.

… To help our families become prepared for an autism emergency and for a sudden contact with law enforcement.

… To develop and maintain a permanent partnership with law enforcement, first response and criminal justice communities.

This conference is designed to meet the needs of:

… Patrol and investigative law enforcement professionals

… Law enforcement, first response and criminal justice trainers

… School resource officers

… Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) members

… Juvenile justice and victims rights specialists

… Correctional, prosecutors, and judicial professionals … Fire-Rescue professionals

… EMS/EMT, paramedics and emergency room professionals

… 911 dispatch telecommunications professionals

Questions? Please see the next few pages or e-mail: eshipley@autism-society.org or call: (301) 657-0881 x.110 or visit: www.autism-society.org Please, if you were not the correct person to receive this, please pass it on to the appropriate staff member of your organization. This is greatly appreciated.