For the third year, in honor of Autism Awareness Month, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office wrapped a vehicle with colored puzzle pieces as an inviting way for children and adults with autism to meet police officers in a casual setting and to encourage caretakers of those on the spectrum to sign up for the Autism Recognition Alert Program.
“This program helps the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office be better equipped to help people with special needs who may become lost, injured, victimized, or who may wander away from home,” said Sheriff Dan Coverley. “Every year we generate more sign-ups with the vehicle, and we have an opportunity to collect that information to share with all our first responders.”
Douglas County commissioners are scheduled to issue a proclamation for the month on Thursday.
The program creates a database where family members and caregivers can register people with autism with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. The information provided stays confidential and is used to assist officers with the early recognition of a person’s disability and de-escalation techniques. By registering, officers can then access the information provided in their dispatch system. An officer can search a person through their name or physical description. There is no charge to be enrolled in this program.
In addition to enrollment, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office will provide an identification card that people with autism can present during a police encounter. The ID card will identify the individual as a person with autism and includes their emergency contact information.
To learn more about the Autism Recognition Alert Program visit, https://sheriff.douglascountynv.gov/services/community_programs_resources/autism_recognition_alert_program.
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty picking up social cues (social referencing) and understanding other individuals’ thoughts and intentions, making them vulnerable to a range of crimes, from fraud and theft to more violent crimes. Individuals with ASD are also generally taught compliance from a very young age, making them easy targets for abuse and victimization.
The car will also be displayed for the public to take pictures and register for the program at the Douglas County Autism Resource Fair put on by Family Support Council. The fair takes place at the Douglas County Community and Senior Center on 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 23.