By DAVID PEPIN
A simple sheet of paper may be a potent new tool for the East Greenwich Police Department to help deal with children with autism or Asperger’s syndrome.
Sgt. John Carter, the department’s juvenile officer, has completed a sheet that parents can submit to police, who will put the information in their database so in the event that officers are called to their home, police will know about the children.
“We’ll have it up as soon as we can for parents willing to give information about their child,” said Carter, stressing that the form is voluntary.
The form will be an addition to two other current initiatives, along with the R.I. Emergency Management Agency, alerting police to the presence of seniors or residents with special medical needs.
“It would be for that one call if an adult or a youth is on medication or a technical device. For example, we had a call the other day for a resident with a diabetic reaction,” Carter said.
The forms for juveniles ask for information about their disabilities, medications, special needs, physical disorders and communication skills necessary to understand the child. It can also include emergency phone numbers for the child’s counselor and/or therapist.
“Any added information will always help. We know what’s going on when we’ve been to a house already, but with this form, when we go to a new house, we’ll have that information,” Carter said.
The form is part of the department’s effort toward dealing with children with autism and Asperger’s, a disorder which can sometimes make communication difficult.
In January, Chief Thomas Coyle staged a departmentwide training session on Asperger’s with Joanne Quinn of The Autism Project. It paid off that night, he said, when police found a wandering child on First Avenue and were able to communicate with him enough to discover where he lived, returning him home safely.