Safety On The Spectrum™

Communication Toolkit

Imagine Brian, a young man, 17-year-old with autism who is 6 feet tall, 200 pounds, and nonverbal. He escaped from his home while his mother was taking a shower and wandered into an adjacent neighborhood. He is lost and is walking through people’s front yards when someone calls the police. The officers ask Brian his name, where he lives, and what is going on. Brian is agitated and starts biting his arm. The officers decide to handcuff Brian, who becomes combative and must be wrestled to the ground and then put in the back of the police car and taken to the police station.

Now imagine the same scenario, but these officers have been trained to recognize signs of autism and have a Sensory Kit in the back of the car. The officer recognizes that Brian may have autism and grabs one of the Sensory Kit out of the police car. Brian recognizes some of the items, which helps him calm down and builds trust with the officer. The officer also pulls out the Communication Passport and asks yes and no questions: are you hurt? Are you lost? Now Brian is calmed enough so the officer also pulls out a whiteboard from the Sensory Kit and asks Brian to write his name and address, which he does while squeezing his sensory ball. The officers get Brian into the back of the police car and drive him home, where his frantic mother is grateful to see her son.

As many as 30 percent of autistic children/adults have nonspeaking autism (nonverbal autism) or are minimally verbal. Everyone deserves to be safe in their own community.

Thank you to Ability Central who provided the funding and the adults with Autism, family members and professionals who spent hours developing this safety resource for our community!