The PATROL Program leaders and I connected with a number of subject matter experts that specialize with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder to develop a new online course for first responders that provides a foundational understanding of autism, to prepare officers for further study of strategies and practices for safe and effective interactions with people on the spectrum.
To create an engaging learning module, we implemented over 30 short documentary videos with a few police officers who also happen to have children with Autism. Each officer opens up about their perspective on the subject and shares their expertise with encounters with individuals in the Autism Spectrum. To boil things down, Officers are going to come across people with disabilities in the course of their work, and they’ll be obliged to accommodate them the best they can. They already know this. The challenge presented by autism is that they may not immediately know that the person they’re encountering has a disability that could account for their behavior.
For an effective "hook" for the online course, we spent an afternoon with Officer David Gizinkski, his wife Heather, and their son William to produce a highlight segment that shares a deeper, more personal view of the subject.