In This Episode

00:02:13 – There are no physical characteristics to identify someone with autism
00:04:11 – We are failing to recognize the difference between disability and mental illness
00:07:58 – Incidents around the country have pressed the need for autism-focused training
00:10:52 – Autism effects communication, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors
00:14:51 – Visual communication is the key to deescalation
00:20:31 – Building relationships with your special needs community
00:29:01 – Blue Line Spectrum Safety can help you build a program to address intellectual disabilities
00:34:05 – A recap of what's been covered on the show
00:34:52 – It's only a matter of time before your agency has an interaction with someone who has autism
00:35:58 – How to connect with Stefan and Blue Line Spectrum Safety

Key Takeaways

Autism is not a mental illness – Our understanding as a society of autism and other intellectual disabilities has grown exponentially. We now know better than to think that it can be treated the same as a mental illness. So why then do we conduct exhaustive training on response to subjects with mental illness and then just give a little bit of airspace to those with intellectual disabilities? 

You must master the art of visual communication when interacting with a person who has autism –  Visual supports are an excellent non-verbal way for individuals with autism to communicate their needs and make sense of the situation at hand. Stefan created a set of Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) cards specifically for law enforcement use in the field.

Resources from the show

About Stefan

Sergeant Stefan Bjes M.S. is currently a patrol sergeant and has served with the Addison, Il Police Department for over 19 years. Stefan has a bachelor’s degree from Valaparasio University in Psychology and Sociology and a Master’s Degree from Lewis University. Stefan is an active CIT officer and is one of the supervisors for the department’s CIT program. He has served the department in several different capacities, such as Gang Investigator, School Resource Officer, Use of Force Instructor, Rapid Response Instructor, Field Training Officer, Evidence Technician and Juvenile Officer. He is also a former board member for the DuPage County Juvenile Officer Association. Stefan was named the 2019 Juvenile Officer of the Year by the Illinois Juvenile Officer Association for his work with children with disabilities.

Stefan is an instructor for North East Multi Regional Training (NEMRT), Tri-River Police Training Region and is also an approved instructor regarding Autism and Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities for the Basic CIT Course with the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board. Stefan has written articles for the International Law Enforcement Educators & Trainers Association (ILEETA) Journal and Calibre Press regarding Law Enforcement interactions with individuals with Autism. Stefan is an adjunct faculty member at Waubonsee Community College and the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy at the College of DuPage. He is also the owner of Blue Line Spectrum Safety LLC, which specializes in First Responder training regarding Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

Connect with Stefan and Blue Line Spectrum Safety

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