Preparing Law Enforcement Officers to Engage Successfully with Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Evaluation of a Performance-Based Approach

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  • Source:
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, v53 n3 p887-900 Mar 2023.
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    Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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    • Abstract:
      Law enforcement officers (LEOs) may use physical force unnecessarily or escalate problem behavior when attempting to gain the compliance of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (Copenhaver & Tewksbury in American Journal of Criminal Justice 44:309--333, 2019). Although specialized training may remedy this problem, the relatively small literature on such training programs indicates the need for further research (Railey et al. in Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 2020). This study used simulations with actors to evaluate the outcomes of performance-based instruction on strategies to promote compliance when LEOs respond to calls involving individuals with ASD. Results for three LEOs and 24 police cadets demonstrated the efficacy of behavioral skills training (BST) for teaching LEOs how to interact more effectively with individuals with ASD. Results also suggested that hands-on training should supplement commonly used forms of didactic instruction.
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