Just Published Study: Autistic Individuals’ Interaction with Police

A pile of newspapers bundled together with string.

A new study about police interactions with autistic individuals who are on the autism spectrum disorder was published in the June issue of Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders. The following is a summary of that research.

The Canadian study examined 284 Ontario (Canada) teens and adult caregivers over an 18 month period. The study, conducted by Tint, Palucka, Bradley, Weiss, and Lunsky, was a collaborative effort between Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, and York University (Ontario, Canada).

The Study’s Purpose

Per the researchers, the study focused on describing police interactions with adolescents and adults who are on the autism spectrum disorder; the satisfaction with those interactions; and to examine correlates of police involvement of those surveyed.

Its Findings

Approximately 16% of those studied had interactions with the police. In 19% of cases, the person was placed into restraints by police officers. The most common reason for restraining the person was his (or her) aggression. The study also found people with less severe autism were just as likely to interact with the police.

Several variables were identified for those who had interactions with the police: they tended to be older; they had a history of aggression; they lived outside of their family homes; their parents had higher rates of caregiver strain; and their parents had more financial difficulty. Reportedly, 66% of those families who had interactions with the police described being satisfied.

Dr. Yona Lunsky said about meeting an autistic individual, “If you met one person with autism, you met one person with autism.” In short, each autistic person is unique.

The abstract of the article, “Correlates of Police Involvement Among Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” can be found at http://tinyurl.com/y7e2pd3v.