Those with autism spectrum disorder are 7 times more likely to come into contact with law enforcement officers than the average person, according to St. Mary Parish Autism Team leader Joy Naquin. She and former St. Mary Parish Sheriff David Naquin taught 55 St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Deputies during one of two Autism Recognition and Response Training classes held at the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office Regional Training Academy in Morgan City last week.
The St. Mary Parish Autism Team was created by the St. Mary Parish School Board in response to the increasing number of autism diagnoses across the nation. The training provided deputies with information about the varied characteristics of autism spectrum disorder, specifically those that make an autistic person more likely to come into contact with law enforcement. Many on the autism spectrum wander and are attracted to water. Also, members of the community may view an autistic person’s behavior as suspicious and alert authorities. Deputies attending the in-service training learned how to recognize basic behaviors of children and adults on the autism spectrum as well as use effective approaches to facilitate communications such as minimizing sensory influences.
As per Sheriff Mark Hebert, the course is mandatory for all St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office patrol deputies. Sheriff Hebert says, “By reviewing techniques on improving communication and adjusting environmental settings to accommodate those with autism spectrum disorder, deputies increase officer and citizen safety here in St. Mary Parish.”
Joy Naquin with the St. Mary Parish Autism Team teaches deputies at the St. Mary Parish Sheriff's Office Regional Training Academy
St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office
Public Information Officer
985-384-1622 Ext. 26