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Kissimmee, FL: Police, first responders get ASD training


On Tuesday, the Autism Society of Greater Orlando & Osceola, led by President Donna Lorman, held a comprehensive training session for the Kissimmee Police Department (KPD).

The training was part of an initiative focused on fostering better understanding and collaboration between law enforcement and individuals with autism.

Members of the KPD, and other first responders, engaged in an interactive learning process during the day that focused on how to effectively interact with people on the autism spectrum. The training session included practical de-escalation techniques, various scenarios, and live demonstrations with individuals with autism and provided a unique opportunity for officers to meet and interact with individuals with autism, ranging in age from 10 to 30 years. This interaction aimed to give a comprehensive view of the spectrum of the disability, including the characteristics and mannerisms associated with autism, crucial for recognizing these traits during community interactions.

The Autism Society of Greater Orlando & Osceola was founded in 1996 by a group of volunteer parents to better assist families of children and adults with autism in the Central Florida area. The mission or goal of the ASGO is that all individuals within the autism spectrum will be provided a lifetime network of opportunities to become fully accepted, included, and actively participating members of our community, through family support, education, advocacy, and public awareness.

District 47 Representative Paula Stark attended the training session, and discussed her filing of a bill in the State House that would mandate these types of law enforcement training  sessions on the handling of individuals with autism, highlighting the growing recognition of the need for such education at the legislative level.

 “We filed this House Bill to benefit people who have autism and to bring awareness to our local law enforcement and first responders through training and education,” said Rep. Paula Stark, District 47. “I am excited to collaborate with the Autism Society of Greater Orlando & Osceola in training and educating law enforcement and first responders on interacting with people who have autism out in the community safely.”

“We are grateful for Rep. Paula Stark and the Florida House for filing this House Bill to benefit our clients who have autism to be safe and sound in our community,” said Donna Lorman, Executive Director of The Autism Society of Greater Orlando & Osceola. “This is truly something we have been wishing for to protect people with autism, so these situations are not traumatic for our clients. It is a win-win for everyone if they are educated and trained to manage these situations with people with autism.”

According to Lorman, they’ve trained about 40,000 officers in Florida so far, with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and New Smyrna Police Department requiring the training. In Osceola County, the training is voluntary, while the sheriff’s office requires in-agency training….

The event is a testament to the growing awareness and importance of specialized training for law enforcement in dealing with diverse community needs. It represents a positive step towards a more inclusive and understanding approach to law enforcement interactions with individuals with autism.

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