April is National Autism Awareness Month and Michigan State Police (MSP) is the most recent law enforcement agency to join an initiative called ‘Action for Autism,’ which provides training on autism awareness and equips officers with calming bags to carry in their patrol vehicles to provide support in stressful situations involving someone with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Throughout the month of April, the Autism Alliance of Michigan is providing virtual training to MSP enforcement members. The instruction covers guidance for responding to calls involving persons with special needs and specifically those who wander due to ASD.
“Several community partners supported this effort, and on behalf of the MSP, I’d like to thank Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Meijer, Milestones Child Development Center and the Autism Alliance of Michigan,” stated Lt. Sarah Krebs, who spearheaded MSP’s involvement in the initiative.
During the month of April, the MSP is also outfitting all of its marked patrol vehicles statewide with calming bags that contain fidget spinners, stress balls, teddy bears and therapeutic silicone items that can be chewed. These items address the comfort and security needs of a person with ASD and can help improve communication during interactions with law enforcement.
“Growing up with a disabled person in my family gave me a unique opportunity to see how this population struggles. I wanted to be a part of the bridge to connect law enforcement to them,” said Lt. Sarah Krebs.