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April is Autism Awareness Month

Imagine being worried every time you step our of your house that your child may end up in an encounter with police. (Jennifer Gilbert/Sinclair Cares)

Imagine being worried every time you step our of your house that your child may end up in an encounter with police.

That is the reality for many families of children with autism.

Working in partnership with our parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, we want to keep you informed about important health and safety matters.

We believe it's our responsibility and privilege.

April is autism awareness month.

In this Sinclair Cares report, Jennifer Gilbert shows you how first responders are being trained to make sure their interactions with people with autism, remain safe.

Law enforcement officers getting an important lesson.

"When you come across somebody out in the community that has autism..."

It's part of mandated training aimed to give officers the tools they need to deal with people with intellectually developmental disabilities.

Because sometimes the outcome can be tragic.

"Nobody wants that to happen."

"What we are trying to prevent is that because our deputies don't understand certain cues, it's perceived to be a threat when it's not a threat."

That's where Glenn comes in.

Glenn is a 26-year-old young man with autism.

"Hello sir, how are you? My name is officer Hickey. To you have a name?"

Glenn is a key player. This training is provided by Pathfinders for autism.

"We teach a lot of de-escalation techniques. So how they can slow things down and how they can help an individual that is in crises. How they can help calm the individual down so that the entire situation is de-escalated."

Through Glenn, officers can see how someone with autism may respond differently.

Officers learn how the actions of someone with autism can easily be misinterpreted.

"As their anxiety is going up, and you are approaching, their hands are going in their pocket and we got ourselves a problem."

Instructor Drew Myers has a close connection with Glenn.

He is Glenn's dad through adoption.

Detective Janelle Myers is Drew's mom.

For years, Janelle dealt with the challenges of raising a child with autism. As a single mom.

Then, she met Drew.

"I am definitely very blessed."

That's why Janelle sees a unique opportunity, and as a police officer, and a mom.

"I want to know that I am actively involved in the training of the officers because I know how I want them to act."

A family, committed to a cause.

One in 68 children has Autism Spectrum Disorder. The prevalence is even higher in boys.

The challenges often become even greater as those children reach adulthood.

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