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New Haven, CT: Police learn all about autism

April 24, 2024, NBC CT: New Haven police launches Autism Safety Alert Program for residents

Naugatuck mom Jenn Harding and her son Derek were in a terrifying car crash a few years ago. She’s glad they were OK, but the scary part was thinking about what if she wasn’t, because Derek has autism.

Harding: Derek can’t speak. Derek couldn’t say who he was, if he was okay, if I was okay, who mom was. It gave me crippling anxiety.

Reporter:  She created the Autism Safety Alert Form for police departments so parents and care givers can register people on the autism spectrum, in case they ever need the police.

Harding: The parent gets to put on it the pertinent information. If they’re afraid of sirens, if they’re afraid of lights, if they’re drawn to water.

Reporter: Now New Haven police have launched the registration program. Five people have already signed up.  . . . 

New Haven is joining a growing list of local police departments that are establishing autism response programs. It helps give the officers the tools that they need to better interact with the community.

Police officer: We’re going to work on getting sensory bags for officers. It’ll  be like a tool kit for them.  . .

Reporter: The police department and the city’s commission on disabilities  work together to get a program up and running. . ..


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