PLANO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Making adults with autism safer during a traffic stop was the goal of a Plano Police Department training session Saturday morning.
A traffic stop can make anyone uncomfortable.
“I still get nervous if the popo gets behind me,” said Plano Police Sgt. A.D. Paul
For a person with autism, according Paul, the sirens, flashing lights and verbal commands can spark sensory overload.
“Then the police officer made me pull over,” said Jeffery Scott Douglas, a student with autism at the course. “Then he warned me about the volume, on the radio, in the car.”
The course is meant to familiarize students like Douglas with the experience of being pulled over.
“I’m going to get you out of here in just a second, just stay in your car,” an officer acting out a scene explained.
The rising rates of autism made Saturday’s course, which included time in the classroom, all the more important — and not just for the students.
“I think that all of us are a little intimidated when we are pulled over by the police, and it’s actually helped me some too,” said Randy Douglas, Jeffery’s dad. “And I think it will help him a lot too when he starts driving.”
While people with autism can struggle with social cues and communication skills, Paul explained that they can be a talented group.
“The higher functioning folks on the autism spectrum are brilliant,” Paul said. “A lot of them are going to go onto universities. They’re going to hold very technical jobs and training.”
The Centers for Disease Control latest numbers show about one in 59 children has been identified with autism. The rise could be due, at least in part, to more correct diagnoses.