ND Autism Center Launches Safety Program With Local Law Enforcement

People with autism will get a wristband, key chain, and ID card

FARGO, N.D. –Having a loved one with autism can mean being in a constant state of worry. A new program designed is to give families some peace of mind.

When Darcy Kasprowicz’s brother Tyler was diagnosed with autism, her family felt isolated.

That prompted her to start the North Dakota Autism Center in 2008.

“I appreciate him and what he has been able to do for our community, because if he was not born to our family, we would not have the North Dakota Autism Center or safeTY Jacket,” she said.

Fast forward to today, and Tyler is the first person to sign up for the safeTY Jacket program.

It’s a new partnership between the Autism Center and local enforcement that will help first responders identify people with the disorder with a special ID.

“We deal with people with different disabilities all the time. This is a great opening door for autism where we’re able to pilot this program,” Fargo Police Chief David Todd said.

Because people with autism may not be able to communicate clearly and don’t pick up on social cues, tools like wristbands and ID cards will give first responders a sense of who they’re dealing with.

“When our routine changes, we’re able to cope with that and deal with that because we understand what’s socially appropriate or what people are expecting of us. Individuals with autism may struggle with that,” Kasprowicz said.

“If our officer shows up on scene and they don’t understand that, we’re trying to deter them using force [because they] don’t understand behaviors of autism,” Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner said.

Guardians can sign people up for the safeTY Jacket program on the North Dakota Autism Center website.

The information will be put in a data bank with local enforcement.

“I’m really excited. He has really changed my life, I approach things differently, I learned things differently, I appreciate what I have,” Kasprowicz said.

The Fargo, West Fargo, Moorhead Police Departments, as well as Cass and Clay County Sheriff’s Offices, are taking part in program.

For more information and to sign up, click here.

Categories: Local News, Minnesota News, North Dakota News