(July 1, 2014) - An article in today's LA Times features Emily Iland, the mother of a 30-year-old son with autism and an advocate for all in the autism community. As part of a program with the Autism Society of Los Angeles, Iland works tirelessly to make sure individuals with autism like her son don't become law enforcement statistics. She is doing so by educating both first responders and people on the spectrum on how to respond if they are stopped by the police.
"When I learned how they operate, how they think," Iland said, "that's when I realized we have to train our young people, not just the police."
Iland wants her son to understand what police are up against. "He needs to know what to expect and how his actions are being perceived by police officers," she said. "He needs to know not to run, not to panic. I need to be able to trust him to let the officers do their job."
Iland's "BE SAFE" campaign includes a DVD starring young people with autism role-playing police encounters and a guidebook for parents, teachers and counselors. According to the BE SAFE website, the program can be used as a teaching tool to prepare young people for life after high school in schools, at home and by community groups who want to teach safety. Learn more here!
A comprehensive safety plan is important and should include resources for individuals with autism to learn how to stay safe across all settings. Safety in the home and out in the community must be a priority for people with autism of all ages. For more safety resources in the home and community please visit our Autism Safety Project. For Wandering Prevention resources and information please click here.