Advocates working on legislation to require autism education training for law enforcement officers

The Autism Society of Greater Orlando is working to train law enforcement officers to properly handle tough situations involving officers and people with autism.

The training by ASGO is only mandated in Volusia County. At agencies like the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the training is voluntary.


Orange County deputies are actively taking the course so when they show up on scene, they are equipped to handle any situation.

President of ASGO Donna Lorman said characteristics of autism, like difficulty communicating, not wanting to be touched, and naturally being large in size, are signs the organization wants officers to be able to recognize.

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Lorman said she’s seen the challenges firsthand. Her 31-year-old son, Drew, has autism. Developmentally, she said, he operates in the 5- to 7-year-old range creating a disconnect between how he looks and how he may act.

That led her for the last ten years to teach autism awareness training to law enforcement and first responders.

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The eight-hour program covers the characteristics and signs, de-escalation techniques, and first-hand interactions with a person with autism.

“The officers have that opportunity for a personal interaction. Not only do they see the characteristics of autism in front of them, but they also have the opportunity to run scenarios, to interview,” Lorman said.

ASGO has trained 40,000 law enforcement officers in the state.

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Right now, the organization is working with local legislatures to make this training mandatory.

They would like to propose a bill in this session.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said they also require in-house autism awareness training for all new recruits before they hit the road.

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