Police hear good advice about people with autism

QCSD psychologist Dr. Kevin Kelly said their proactive steps may help de-escalate situations
Posted on 03/15/2022
QCSD psychologist Dr. Kevin Kelly sits in his office at Quakertown Community High School.By Gary Weckselblatt

Area police departments recently had a planned visit from an autistic man to educate them with strategies to promote safe and positive interactions with people on the autism spectrum.

Alex Mann, 21, has visited more than 150 police departments over the last three years, and was hosted by the Quakertown Borough Police Department, which invited Richland and Perkasie police to the event.

“He shared a lot of good information,” said Quakertown Community School District psychologist Dr. Kevin Kelly, who listened to what Mr. Mann had to say. “We have students with autism, so it’s nice to know our local police departments are doing what they can to try and understand people with autism. No one wants a situation to escalate needlessly.”

WFMZ News attended Mr. Mann’s presentation. Here’s its video.

Mr. Mann, who was invited to Quakertown Borough Hall by QCSD School Resource Officer Bob Lee, explained how loud noises and lights can make someone with autism uncomfortable. Mr. Mann said there are times they won't react to their name and are afraid of people in uniform. He’s developed a disability disclosure card that helps assist in police encounters.

In the WFMZ video, Richland Township Police Chief Richard Ficco said he would like to see more of those cards "To learn about (people with autism) and how they go about their everyday needs is invaluable," he said.

Dr. Kelly agreed. “The cards are a great idea,” he said. “Autism is not something you can physically see. They may not be able to comprehend instructions and could be viewed as being defiant. Those cards might make a difference.”

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or [email protected]
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