Officers equipped with tools to help children with Autism in crisis

Published 12:25 am Wednesday, April 10, 2019

NEW ORLEANS — St. John the Baptist Parish Deputies Shaquille Guerin, Antwan Johnson and Lt. Michelle Piearson recently completed training to help autistic children and adults in crisis.

The three officers from the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office were among a group of first responders from throughout the New Orleans area who attended the class at the New Orleans Fair Grounds and Race Course.

The training focused on what to do when an autistic child is missing and communicating with nonverbal autistic people.

The officers also learned about the Take Me Home Program, a database in which families may register autistic children and adults with local law enforcement departments and include caregiver contact information and special instructions.

Information on how first responders can recognize an individual with autism and how specific incidents should be handled was offered.

Special tactics, response techniques, patient care and search and rescue were discussed.

There are more than 3 million people in the United States on the autism spectrum, and people with autism are seven times more likely to have a 911 encounter than a neuro-typical person, according to the YMCA Children’s United Benefits and Services, the agency that hosted the training.

Continuing education is essential to help law enforcement officers do their jobs more efficiently and effectively, said Sheriff Mike Tregre. St. John officers are required to participate in training that improves job performance.