NYS Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D – 111th District) announced that a proposal bill he authored geared towards establishing the first statewide training program for law enforcement, firefighters and other first responders to help with interactions involving individuals with autism spectrum and related disorders was passed as part of this year’s final NYS Budget.
“With about 1 in 68 children born with autism each year in the United States and more than 3.5 million Americans living with an autism spectrum disorder it is essential that our first responders have the proper training,” said Assemblyman Santabarbara, who serves as Chair of the State Assembly’s Sub-Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorders. “Individuals with autism like my son Michael often struggle with communicating, making eye contact, and responding to simple questions, even if it’s asking for their name. Across the country we have seen how routine encounters with law enforcement can escalate simply because they are misunderstood.”
The final state budget included $250,000 to fund the initiative throughout NYS within the next 90 days. The program is designed to help bring attention to areas that need specialized training so that officers are better prepared when responding to those with Autism Spectrum and related disorders.
“Whether it’s helping a family find a missing child or responding to an adult with autism whose behavior may be misunderstood, recognizing the signs of autism and knowing how to react is important,” Santabarbara said. “This training is a valuable resource to those serving in law enforcement and after years of working on this initiative, I’m so very pleased to finally see it become a reality here in New York.”