April 4, 2021, C and G News (Detroit, MI): State police outfit vehicles with calming kits to help people with autism https://www.candgnews.com/news/state-police-outfit-vehicles-with-calming-kits-to-help-people-with-autism-120294
April is Autism Awareness Month, and the Michigan State Police is joining with other law enforcement agencies to not only raise awareness about autism, but also include new calming bags in their patrol vehicles. The calming bags will be given out to people on the autism spectrum or their families, if desired. They are designed to help people with autism cope with the often stressful nature of interacting with first responders. “…We want to train our officers to recognize common signs of autism and how to interact with them in constructive, positive ways. Bright lights and loud sirens can be intimidating to an autistic child, and if we are there, they may be going through a very difficult day already, so this helps us bridge that gap and lets us introduce ourselves as people who are there to help. Plus, they get a bag of some cool stuff.”… The MSP worked with autism experts to help train officers and form effective plans for interacting with people who are on the autism spectrum. “…This safety training would go hand in hand with the bags. We haven’t completed the training, but it will be going on virtually throughout the month of April.”… “The Michigan State Police bags will have 15 items in it,” said Krebs. “There is a fidget spinner; a silicon chew; a nonverbal cue card to help communicate with nonverbal people; a stress ball; a Trooper Teddy, which is an MSP-specific stuffed bear; as well as other items such as coloring books.”… The calming bags are part of a wider effort on the part of the state police to better address the needs of the autism community. “The program is three parts,” said Krebs. “It is training for our enforcement members for first response for people with autism. The second part is a social media campaign throughout the month of April. The third is outfitting our patrol cars with these calming bags.”… “More than 30 agencies in Michigan signed on to include these bags in their vehicles. … Patel said that these measures will be a big step in helping ensure that people on the autism spectrum are properly protected across the state….