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Advocate coaches autistic people on interacting with police

Emily Iland will share her expertise in teaching essential safety skills to teens and adults with autism spectrum disorder at 7 p.m., Aug. 4., in the Murie Building auditorium at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Iland is an award-winning author, advocate, researcher and leader in the autism community. She received her master’s degree in special education with distinction at California State University, Northridge, in 2007, where she is an adjunct professor in the Department of Special Education.

Her talk at UAF is titled “Be Safe: Teaching Community Safety Skills to Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

People on the autism spectrum often have trouble socializing and communicating; they may exhibit inappropriate behavior, misread social cues or become agitated under stress. Statistics suggest that they are seven times more likely than someone without autism to be involved with law enforcement officers as a victim, witness or offender.

The basics of Iland's "Be Safe" campaign include the following: "Don't run or reach into your pocket. Stay calm. Show them your hands. If you're handcuffed or put into a patrol car, be quiet, be patient, be still. If you're arrested, tell the officers you have a disability and ask to talk to a lawyer.”

The campaign offers a DVD starring young people with autism who role-play police encounters and a guidebook for parents, teachers and counselors.

While at UAF, Iland will also teach a course on the same topic. To register, contact UAF Summer Sessions and Lifelong Learning at 907-474-7021 or visit http://www.uaf.edu/summer/.

This event is presented in association with UAF Summer Sessions and Lifelong Learning, Autism Society of Alaska, UAF School of Education, Fairbanks Resource Agency and Family Centered Services of Alaska.

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