Autism Recognition and Response for Law Enforcement, EMS, Fire, and First Responders
Presented by the Parents of Autistic Children (POAC) Services
Sponsored by Montgomery Township Police Department and Montgomery Township Health Department
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Montgomery High School
1016 Route 601, Skillman, NJ 08558
This session has been approved for EMS CEUs.
The actions or non-responsiveness of people with autism are almost always misinterpreted by untrained individuals. Inappropriate social responses and non-contextual emotional outbursts, commonly seen in people with autism, can cause confusion at best and spark conflict in worst case scenarios. The inability to follow complex or even simple directions during an emergency or crisis situation can lead to serious injury or worse. Without training and awareness of this condition, tragic consequences often ensue when effected individuals come in contact with law enforcement. However, these contacts can often be easily resolved when the officers and professionals involved have the information they need to navigate what can be a complex situation. The primary goal of this project is to make the general community a safer place for people with developmental disabilities. Specifically, this training will:
▪ Make law enforcement officers (LEO) and first response professionals aware of the condition of autism, its symptoms, and the characteristics commonly seen in individuals who are affected.
▪ Provide information to enhance better recognition of a person with autism and response methods for officers in field situations.
▪ Identify public safety risks for people who have autism, predictable contacts and 911 dispatches.
▪ Explain the problems that a higher functioning person with autism may have in criminal justice situations.
▪ Provide LEO with behavioral de-escalation techniques and restraint and arrest options.
▪ Provide methods for law enforcement agencies to proactively work with individuals with autism, their families, and advocacy organizations and apply tolerance and public relations skills when doing so.
About the Presenter
Gary Weitzen is the Executive Director of POAC Autism Services. He comes to POAC with 20 years of experience in the risk management field. He is a Masters Level safety and education expert with over fourteen years of experience in special needs program provision and education. In addition to his duties at POAC, he worked for an autism program teaching life skills to adults with autism for 13 years. Mr. Weitzen currently serves on the New Jersey Governor’s Council for Biomedical Research. In the past he has served as New Jersey representative for Unlocking Autism, and Vice President of Princeton Autism Technology. He has appeared on virtually every major network and local news station as an expert on autism and has given presentations to tens of thousands of people across New Jersey. Mr. Weitzen has three children. His eldest son Christopher has autism. He has been a passionate advocate of children and adults with autism for well over a decade.
For questions or additional information, contact Devangi Patel at the Montgomery Township Health Department at (908) 533-9331 or at firstname.lastname@example.org