CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – April is Autism Awareness Month, and the Chicopee Police Department held a seminar for the community.

This seminar is intended to help spread awareness and offer resources for families who have children on the Autism Spectrum. The seminar also explained the procedures and training that police officers and other first responders are undergoing to be prepared for when situations occur while approaching a person who is neurodiverse.

In addition to an explanation of the training, families learned about other resources that first responders use.
Things like autism residency forms and communication cards to ensure safe and positive interactions.

Chicopee Police Sergeant, Missy Lyman told 22News, “Well the goal is to promote the autism awareness and acceptance by doing autism awareness training through ALEEC, which is the Autism Law Enforcement Education Coalition, and it gives first responders important information on how to deal with emergency situations for individuals who are on the Autism Spectrum.”

Families tonight were able to express concerns, as well as suggestions as to how first responders can
approach those on the spectrum by discussing common behaviors, as well as different sensory items that
could help in a high-stress situation.

“But, they care about us. They always like Missy here, she always does her job right because she cares about us,” Chris Martinez from Springfield said.

Lyman added that the goal of this training is to provide additional tools to use in assessing the risk of a situation in order to complement the training that officers already possess. And to start a dialogue with the community.