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Class prepares drivers with autism for traffic stops

July 2, 2017

WHEATON, Ill. (AP) — Sheriff’s deputies and a hospital’s occupational therapists in a Chicago suburb have launched the first of what they hope will be a series of classes to prepare drivers with developmental disorders for traffic stops.

The course hosted by Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital and DuPage County deputies in Wheaton helps police recognize how someone on the autism spectrum reacts to stress and overstimulation, the Daily Herald (http://bit.ly/2t69OwK) reported.

The course was tested on four graduates of Marianjoy’s Driver Rehabilitation Center.

The participants of the course received an informational card where they can make note of behaviors they display in stressful situations. Drivers can also include their emergency contact on the card.

Sheriff’s Cpl. Mike Urso told the participants the card should make the traffic stop “a lot easier with less anxiety.”

Urso cautioned the participants prior to the course and said that they would experience some anxiety, but that they would “work through it.”

The course consisted of two exercises. In the first exercise the deputy was cordial, but in the second the deputy flipped on a loud siren from his vehicle.

“The main goal is to make you more comfortable, learn how to better communicate your needs with the police officer and, overall, keep you and the police officer safe,” said Brandon Lesch, a Marianjoy occupational therapist.


Information from: Daily Herald, http://www.dailyherald.com

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