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MSP correct in program to become autism sensitive

Give the Michigan State Police credit for trying to get ahead of addressing calls for service that may involve a person with autism.

It’s called Action for Autism and it’s a program 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).

What’s a calming bag, you ask? Simply a bag the officer carries in his or her vehicle 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.

“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,” Lt. Sarah Krebs, who spearheaded MSP’s involvement in the initiative, said in a press release. “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.”

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, the press release states.

Additionally, the bags will be installed in familiar MSP patrol units in April.

This is so basic that it makes one wonder why it wasn’t thought of before. We look forward to hearing how the program actually works.

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