Perspectives from the ASD community on police interactions: Challenges & recommendations [2020]

• ASD respondents were concerned about how their disability would affect police treatment.

• ASD respondents identified several potential challenges that could present in a police interaction.

• A variety of recommendations were offered regarding how future interactions could be better managed.

Research shows that a substantial proportion of people with Autism come into contact with the police in their lifetime, and some research suggests that they are largely unsatisfied with their police interactions.

Thirty-five adults with ASD completed an online questionnaire regarding the challenges police may face when interacting with Autistic people, as well as provided recommendations as to how those interactions could be improved.

Respondents reported a variety of different potential challenges that could present in an interaction between the police and people with ASD. For example, respondents felt that typical Autistic behaviours, such as stimming or communication difficulties, could be misinterpreted by police officers and lead to adverse outcomes. Respondents discussed several recommendations aimed at improving police interactions with Autistic people, including involving Autisitc people in the training of police officers.

The information collected in this study provides insights into how interactions between the police and people with ASD can be improved. These findings can be used in the development of police training programs or integrated into pre-existing training programs on Autism, contributing the invaluable perspective of the Autism community.

Alisha C. Salerno-Ferraro & Regina A. Schuller
Research in Developmental Disabilities, Volume 105, October 2020