Tuesday, June 4, 2019 from 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM EDT
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UMass Amphitheater 
333 South Street
4th Floor
Shrewsbury, MA 01545-4169

Driving Directions 


Dana Bienkowski 
UMass Donahue Institute in Conjuction with MA DDS 


                      The 2019 DDS Speakers Series presents:

BE SAFE Interactive Movie Screening 

For Police Officers

Presented by:  Emily Iland


Program Description

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are particularly vulnerable in police encounters and emergency situations due to features of their disorder. Experience AutismŽ is an engaging hands-on training that helps law enforcement professionals and other first responders recognize the signs of autism and respond to the needs of this population, to improve outcomes for everyone involved.  This training includes shared features of all intellectual and developmental disabilities, not just autism. We also compare and contrast developmental disability and mental illness. 

Experience AutismŽ prepares law enforcement for real-life contact with individuals with disabilities. An independent study of effectiveness by Dr. Lilian Medina del Rio of Biola University found that Experience AutismŽ improves knowledge and helps officers feel better prepared to interact with individuals with ASD. This makes Experience AutismŽ the only independently-validated, evidence-based police training in America. The training also prepares officers to meet, teach and learn from youth with ASD/IDD at a BE SAFE Interactive Movie Screening.

Hands-on Training for Law Enforcement Professionals

For this proposal we will conduct a mini-Experience Autism to prepare officers to be paired up with their self-advocate partners at the BE SAFE Interactive Movie Screening. Up to 25 Officers (from one agency or multiple agencies) will engage in 4 learning experiences that simulate what it is like to have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and related conditions. 

This training is active and empathy-based. The event lasts for 2.5 hours and may be eligible for education/training credits (arranged by the law enforcement agency). Event activities are coordinated and facilitated by Experience AutismŽ creator Emily Iland and her son Tom Iland, a self-advocate with ASD. Peace officers may also assist. 

Presentation Objectives 

1.      Recognize and understand the social-communication, behavioral and sensory features of Autism Spectrum Disorders and other I/DDs

2.      Understand the point of view of people with I/DD in different emergency situations

3.      Explore the use of specific techniques and tactical responses that may be helpful for interacting with individuals with autism and related conditions 

4.      Discover how to improve outcomes and reduce risk during contact with individuals with I/DD  

 Activities include: 


Clip It Officers wear oven mitts on their hands and try to attach paper clips to an index card. This simulates fine motor skill impairment. Officers
get a sense of how frustrating it may be.  Next, officers try the same task using binder clips, to understand the concept of accommodation.


Write On Each officer is given a simple task to do: write his or her own name The twist is that they write their name with a crayon on a sticky
note stuck to their forehead.  Officers explore how different people
process information and their own ability to meet an unexpected


Say What? Officers are asked to rephrase a sentence, omitting a certain letter of the alphabet. This experience shows what a language delay and processing problems feel like. Officers get a sense of the difficulty that people with I/DD may have when responding to questions.


Do You Read Me? Officers rely on their ability to read people and
situtations.  In this simulation, officers experience frustration when trying
to read the facial expression of a person wearing a mask. The activity 
explores difficulties with nonverbal communication that people with I/DD, particularly autism, face every day.



8:30 am to 11:00 am - Sign in and mini experience autism for police officers. Includes prep time and orientation for Interactive Screening.

11:00 to 11:15 - Break for police officers.

11:00 to 11:15 - Students/adults arrive. Certificate Course participants arrive to observe and assist.

11:15 to 11:45 - Pair up and have refreshments.

11:45 to 2:15 - Interactive Screening, 2.5 hours