DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office trains officers on how to deal with cases involving special needs individuals

DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. -  The DeKalb County Sheriff's office held a training session teaching officers how to handle cases that may involve a person with autism.

"People with autism see things a little bit differently. It doesn't mean they're any different from you or I. They may think things different or communicate in a different way," explained Dustin Chandler of Interaction Advisory Group.

With autism being one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the U.S., there's a good chance an officer may have someone with autism on their case. "Just because they act a little differently," said Robert Caldwell. "They may not look you straight in the eye. They might be difficult acting socially. They're just a person."

Robert Caldwell was 47-years-old when diagnosed with autism. He travels along with the organization to help with sessions. "He can talk all he wants, but to actually have someone who is on the spectrum be there and answer questions, and I can give them the perspective," explained Caldwell.

These lessons are important and make sure that interaction during a case is fair for everyone. "Our number one goal has always been officer and citizen safety," said Chandler. "Helping officers and first responders understand autism. It gives them better tools to have better and safer interaction with all those individuals."