‘Completely thrilled’: Mom with autistic sons applauds new training required for officers

LEXINGTON, MASS. (WHDH) - A mother in Lexington is applauding new tactical training that law enforcement officers are now required to undergo in Massachusetts.

Maura Sullivan said the training that was part of the new police reform bill will benefit people like her two sons who are living with Autism.

“My youngest son has a very very severe fear of dogs, and when he sees one he will just bolt and run,” Sullivan said.

Her other son, who is 6 feet, 3 inches tall, is also living with Autism. Sullivan said she always feared that her sons’ behavior might be misinterpreted by a police officer.

The part of the law that Sullivan is thankful for establishes special training for police recruits in how to deal with individuals on the autism spectrum or who have other intellectual or developmental disabilities.

“What’s great about the training is they learn a little bit about the best ways to approach everyone on the spectrum. And they learn to look for signs and signals,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan has spent a lot of time at the State House in her role as lobbyist for The ARC Of Massachusetts organization pushing hard for the legislation.

The new training requirement is also being welcomed by officers.

“I know that it means that police will eventually be more comfortable when they come in contact with folks with Autism,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said she is “completely thrilled” as a mother that this new requirement will make a difference.

“It’s been years of testifying at hearings families bringing their loved ones in which is painful,” Sullivan said.

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