Using Behavioral Skills Training to Train Police Officers to Respond to Individuals with Autism

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Research indicates that individuals with autism may be more likely to encounter law enforcement due to the various unusual behaviors associated with autism (e.g., stereotypy) (Osborn, 2008). Although individuals with autism are more likely to encounter law enforcement, little research has been conducted on teaching police officers strategies to gain compliance during these encounters. Additionally, no study has evaluated police officers' performance during these situations. This study addressed these gaps in the literature by assessing the effectiveness of a brief, hands-on training for teaching officers how to gain compliance when encountering individuals with autism. In Experiment 1, behavioral skill training (BST) was used to train three police officers how to deliver prompts and reinforcement for compliance and how to respond to problem behavior. In Experiment 2, two training models, lecture only and brief BST, were evaluated with twenty-four police cadets. BST increased correct responding for all participants. These results suggest that BST is an efficient and effective model for training law enforcement in these methods.

autism, law enforcement, behavioral skills training, police training, cadet training