West Liberty Police Department training first responders on how to interact with people on the autism spectrum

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WEST LIBERTY, Iowa (KCRG) -- West Liberty Police Chief Kary Kinmonth said first responders are not getting enough training on how to interact with individuals who have autism.

The department is taking an initiative by hosting a statewide seminar for first responders to get training on how to deal with individuals with autism. They got the idea back in April which is Autism Awareness Month.

First responders will go over things including what autism is, and how to interact with individuals who have sensory issues. An example is the use of bright lights which could easily scare some people.

They will also discuss where to search when a person with autism goes missing, which primarily includes bodies of water. First responders will also learn how to keep their distance.

"A person with autism really doesn't wanna be pat on the back or touched or handshake,” said Chief Kinmonth. “They really don't want that social contact. So respecting that boundary, and then again, giving them space. Let whatever the situation sink in for them."

The West Liberty Police Department sold autism patches back in April and is donating some of that money at the event to the University of Iowa Children's Autism Center.

It will take place this Friday at 10:00 a.m. at the West Liberty Community Center. Kinmonth is expecting hundreds of people to show up. Non-first responders are also welcomed.

There's no registration required. Besides training, there will also be guest speakers on hand.