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Autism Speaks Applauds Chicago Police Department for Incorporating Autism Awareness into Training

New Training Video will Help Officers Gain Insight into Behaviors

NEW YORK, NY (May 20, 2007) – Autism Speaks, the nation's leading autism advocacy organization, today applauded the Chicago Police Department for creating a new training video designed to help officers gain a better understanding of the behaviors associated with autism and respond appropriately when they encounter a person with autism. Autism Speaks served as a consultant to the Department in the production of the video, which is viewable on the Autism

Chicago Police Department Training Video
(Windows Media Video, ~9 minutes)

Speaks website ( ) and will be made available by the Chicago P.D. to police departments in surrounding communities through a shared training website.

Officials from the Chicago P.D. were on hand at today's Chicago Walk Now for Autism event at Soldier Field, where Autism Speaks Executive Vice President Peter Bell thanked them for undertaking this initiative. “We commend the Chicago Police Department for partnering with us in this important effort to address the needs of the autism community,” said Bell. “Thanks to the Department's enthusiasm for this project, Chicago police officers will now be far better informed and prepared for any potential interactions with individuals with autism. This initiative is demonstrative of the Department's true commitment to protecting all Chicagoans.”

In addition to the training video, designed to be shown at roll call, the newly-created Chicago P.D. Autism Awareness module includes a companion training bulletin. All 13,000 police officers in the City of Chicago will see the video and study the bulletin. Enhanced training has also been given to the Department's nationally recognized Crisis Intervention Team (C.I.T.) Unit, which will act as an additional resource for patrol officers in their interactions with individuals with autism.

The project was developed over the last year after Autism Speaks approached the Chicago P.D. to examine the issues surrounding interactions between law enforcement professionals and people with autism, which have the potential to pose unique challenges to an officer who relies on standard training.

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism Spectrum Disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism, and to advocating for the needs of affected families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Vice Chairman, General Electric, and served as chief executive officer of NBC for more than twenty years. Autism Speaks has merged with both the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), bringing together the nation's three leading autism advocacy organizations. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit