BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - A therapy company in Batesville is working with the Independence County Sheriff's Office to bring specialized training to officers in the area.
The training, authorities say, would help them better communicate and assist people with autism.
Tiffany Cossey owns the No Limits Therapy Company. She contracted with a non-profit organization, Autism Law Enforcement Response Training of Orlando, Fla. to provide the training.
Cossey, who has an autistic son who is nonverbal, said this issue came to her attention after a 17-year-old-boy that she works with had a negative interaction with police.
She hopes the training and the sensory kits that will be provided can help officers understand how to communicate with autistic individuals, who often are nonverbal or don't have an awareness of danger.
Sheriff Shawn Stephens understands the training is important for his deputies.
"People with autism are set up on a routine and if they come in contact with law enforcement, it usually interrupts their routine," Stephens said. "Some of them will lock up and won't say or do anything. Some of them, from what I've seen, they'll just take off running and then we're trying to find them and the more we try to find them, the harder they run."
The therapy company has to pay for the trainer's travel and lodging expenses, which is why they are asking for community sponsors.
Parents of special needs children can also help out by buying a sticker for their car that warns how their child might react in an emergency situation. Those stickers are $5.
Cossey said if they raise more money than is needed for the trainer's trip, it will be donated to the nonprofit.
"It is a former law enforcement officer and she has a child with autism as well," Cossey said about the trainer.
They're hoping to provide the training for around 80 officers over two days.
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