PrAACtical Interactions with Law Enforcement
If you were ever stopped by the police, you know that it can be an anxiety-producing situation. Even when you’ve done nothing wrong, your heart may race, your hands may tremble, and you may stumble over your words. It is easy to imagine how much more difficult these situations would be for those with speech disabilities, particularly those with problems in social interaction.
At a meeting a few weeks ago, I was excited to learn about The Wallet Card Project, a collaborative effort between the Disability Independence Group, the Coral Gables Police Department, and the UM-NSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD).
The Wallet Card Project created free materials to be used in helping individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families gain skills in interacting successfully with police. The trainings address applicable laws in an easy-to-understand fashion that includes both real examples and hypothetical scenarios. Participants learn how to disclose a diagnosis of ASD using a wallet card. Wallet cards have been used for awhile for purposes like this.
This wallet card, however, goes beyond the basics of informing someone that they have a disability (in this case, ASD or intellectual disability). This wallet card has a comment area that can be used to explain more detailed information like:
- problems the person may have in making eye contact or following directions,
- specific behaviors that the individual may exhibit, like rocking or grunting,
- what specific triggers may cause the individual to have difficulty coping with a situation, and,
- who to contact if help is needed.
These cards are designed for individuals with ASD and intellectual disabilities who are fairly independent in the community. However, I’m planning to use them with some of my AAC clients who are less independent. We never know when a situation will occur that causes one of our prAACtical friends to be separated from a caregiver unexpectedly. It is especially important when the individual is nonverbal and has wandered in the past.
The Wallet Card Project allows you to customize the card and then they will print and send it to you. To get more information and obtain a personalized card for one of your clients, view the video below.
Filed under: PrAACtical Thinking
This post was written by Carole Zangari