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Kids with autism connect with local law enforcement officers during annual ‘Badges and Buddies’

Posted at 11:34 PM, Apr 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-22 00:34:42-04

Kids with autism on one side, police on the other. Kids ask the questions and cops give the answers.

This is all to build a connection between law enforcement and kids on the autism spectrum, at the 4th Annual Badges and Buddies meet and greet.

“I think there’s a general amount of fear on both sides whenever that happens because it’s typically in a crisis situation,” said Bell County Autism Intervention Team Jason Miller.

Miller says the event provides a safe space for kids and young adults with autism to learn more about policing.

“It’s an opportunity for kids to become familiar with an officer. Familiar with a first responder and the situation is not underdressed. Get rid of some of the fears and just satisfy a lot of curiosity.”

On the flip side It teaches law enforcement how to identify and interact with those with autism the community.

“Getting the cops to understand verbal cues, the body cues and things that are saying to us an understanding there could be an underlying difference. There’s a lot of times that people we come across are in handcuffs and maybe they don’t need to be,” said Bell County Sheriffs Office Mental Health Training Center Sgt. Teresa Phelps.

Event organizers also showed officers ways to interact with people with autism, during crisis situations.