Pa. State Police develop card to be used by people with autism during law enforcement encounters

Pennsylvania State Police have created a card that can be carried by people with autism and presented during encounters with law enforcement.

The free resource is intended to enhance interactions with officers and ensure safety.

“Behaviors associated with autism can cause barriers to effective communication. This card can be presented to reduce those barriers,” said Col. Christopher Paris, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. “When an officer is made aware a person has autism, they can respond accordingly, resulting in a safer interaction for everyone involved.”

The cards alert law enforcement officers that the individual has autism and therefore may be nonverbal, bothered by loud noises, hyper-sensitive to touch and unresponsive to commands or questions. The officers are directed to be patient, use a calm and direct voice and keep their questions and commands simple.

Paris and Gov. Josh Shapiro met with advocates to talk about how law enforcement can better serve individuals with autism. PSP’s Office of Community Engagement developed the informational card, which is available on the Safety Resources page of PSP’s website. The card can be printed from the website and carried in a wallet or it can be saved on a phone. Troopers will distribute the cards at public community events.

State police encourage individuals with autism to present the card during interactions with any police officer. The officer does not need to be a Pennsylvania state trooper.

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