top of page

(Australia) Autism advocate mom of 3 nonverbal sons promotes police training

Feb 2, 2022, Mamamia: "As a mum of three boys on the spectrum, here is why autism training for police is so crucial."

For Kathrine Peereboom, life is "quite hecticAs a mother of three autistic nonverbal boys under the age of ten, Kathrine and her husband's day starts at 4:30am. That's if the family has been able to sleep through the night. … But even with an incredibly busy life, looking after and having quality experiences with her three boys, Kathrine is giving up her time to provide police with autism training for free. Why you may ask? To ensure that no person on the spectrum is ever put in a position where their dignity or safety is compromised by a first responder or service provider due to potential lack of awareness or ignorance. With first-hand experience, Kathrine was apprehensive about what life would be like for her three boys when they grew up. What would it be like without mum and dad by their side to protect them? Originally from Sydney, Kathrine's boys were on 15 different waitlists for schools and therapists for over two years. The wait was challenging for the family, considering it was a critical development time in their young lives for intervention. So, the family moved to the Gold Coast, found incredible schools and therapy options. … Ultimately, there was an educational gap between the autistic community and those offering critical services: one example being the police force. So in 2019, Kathrine founded Spectrum Support and began offering her time to teach police how to respond with members of the public who are autistic, training with the involvement of the autism community. Starting with the New South Wales Police, which has a strong force of over 17,000, it was easy to see just how crucial this sort of training was. "The Q&A usually goes for just as long as the training session. I've had people reach out to me and say: 'Thank you Kat. If I had not been exposed to your training, I would have handled this particular situation very differently. I think you may have just saved a life'." And since 2020, Kathrine has been training Queensland Police too. … Every day, police officers will encounter a multitude of people in emergency situations. And just as each emergency situation differs from the next, so does the individual involved - "especially when it comes to people on the spectrum," Kathrine adds. "There's a common saying in our community: 'If you've met one autistic person, you've met one autistic person.' Whilst there's a shared diagnosis, every single person on the spectrum is uniquely different in the way they present their autistic traits." Senior Sergeant Gregory Giles from Queensland Police had also seen a need for front-line officers to have a better skill set and knowledge around not only mental health, but neurodiversity too. In a statement he said: "This training is the first of its kind to be delivered in Queensland and provides participants with the skill, knowledge and attitude to improve officers' performance and provide a better service to the community." In the past two decades, our country has seen a rise in autism statistics, most likely due to a better understanding of what it looks like and diagnosing ability. According to Autism Spectrum Australia, approximately one in 70 Aussies are on the autism spectrum….


bottom of page