When autism and law enforcement meet

Illustration shows person talking to boy with autism sitting on the curb while parents or other community members talk to police.

Why autism training for police isn’t enough

Inconsistent and underfunded training programs may hurt more than they help, experts say.

By Elissa Ball, Jaclyn Jeffrey-Wilensky
26 November 2020 | 16 min read
illustration shows isolated figure alone in the prison yard, watching other inmates exercise and socialize.
Spectrum Microphone

Autism behind bars

Prisons are often ill-equipped to handle autistic inmates, who are at risk for mental health problems and abuse.

By Peter Hess
11 November 2020 | 17 min read

Model program could divert some 911 calls from police to mental health professionals

Denver, Colorado, is one of at least eight cities considering an Oregon program to decriminalize and improve the treatment of people with severe mental illness -- while saving the city money.

By LJ DAWSON, Kaiser Health News
15 October 2019 | 8 min read
Illustration shows man penned in by Police line 'do not cross' yellow tape

When autistic people commit sexual crimes

Many first-time sex offenders on the spectrum may not understand the laws they break. How should their crimes be treated?

By Melinda Wenner Moyer
17 July 2019 | 19 min read
Front of Police station, a statue shows a police officer interacting with a child.

Why police need training to interact with people on the spectrum

Encounters between law enforcement and people with autism often go wrong, but some police departments are beginning to train their officers.

By Hannah Furfaro
6 June 2018 | 15 min read
An ambulance and a police car on a city street, lights on.
Spectrum Microphone

Training first responders to recognize autism may avert tragedies

A lack of training for first responders, combined with the communication difficulties of people with autism, can create dangerous misunderstandings.

By Viola Cheung, Carol Weitzman
29 May 2018 | 7 min read
child sitting with face down outside principal's office

For teens with autism, behavioral issues boost risk of police run-ins

Young people with autism who have psychiatric problems may stand a ninefold greater chance of having an encounter with the police than do others on the spectrum.

By Hannah Furfaro
11 January 2018 | 4 min read
Young person walking away from the camera.

Down by law

A new study finds that Dutch children picked up by the police for minor offenses score higher than controls on a questionnaire measuring traits of autism.

By Deborah Rudacille
27 September 2011 | 3 min read

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