Getting pulled over can be nerve-wracking for anyone, but for the parents of a child with an Autism spectrum disorder, it can be terrifying.
To address this, the Ardmore Police Department is introducing forms parents can fill out and submit that quickly explains a child’s level of autism, preferred method of communication and behaviors, how officers should approach them and even their likes and dislikes.
APD Captain Keith Ingle said the idea came from a training he attended, where a former police officer with an autistic son spoke about the importance of knowing how to approach a child with autism while on the job.
“For example, if you pull someone over for a routine traffic stop and they have an autistic child in the car with them, officers can be intimidating,” Ingle said. “That child may communicate in different ways, and we’re going to train officers so they’ll know how to react to that.”
The database will also help in situations when a child with autism wanders off. Dispatch will be able to share details about that child’s behavior and tendencies with officers as they look for them.
“Basically, it’s going to better our service to our citizens,” Ingle said. “And we’re trying to identify with the people in our community who may have autism.”
Ingle said while the idea was originally conceived for the parents of autistic children, anyone with a condition police should know about can use the forms for any disability or medical condition.
“Only dispatch and the officers will see it, and it can be a useful tool for anyone,” Ingle said.
Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant said the county is working to start a similar database, but is still in the planning stages.
“We’re trying to get the data from individuals in the county,” Bryant said. “It may end up being a carbon copy of what Ardmore’s using. It’s a great idea and trying to get ahead of the game is ideal, so we’ll look to see if we can implement the same kind of process.”
The forms for APD’s database can be found at and at local schools, and can be mailed or brought to the Ardmore Police Department.