Justice Resource Collection

Cartoon rendering of justice scales above cupped hands inside a badge.

Since 2014, the ASERT Collaborative has trained over 5,800 Justice System Professionals. In an effort to increase the knowledge base and awareness of ASD, ASERT offers free trainings that are tailored to the specific audience. ASERT has also created various resources for Justice System Professionals that coincide with the training and these resource can be found here.

Resources, Training and Guidance

Key Resources

Signs of Autism: A Guide for Justice System Professionals

This visual resource was developed by ASERT for justice system professionals to use as a reference guide when working with individuals with autism.

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Common Presentations of ASD

This guide, developed by ASERT, provides some of the most common presentations of autism to help police officers and other first responders better understand and help have positive interactions with individuals with autism. The guide is designed to be small enough for a police officer or first responder to carry on them in a pocket.

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Judge’s Guide to Autism

The Judge's Guide to Autism is intended to serve as a resource for judges involved with criminal justice/autism initiatives in their communities.

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Autism and the Justice System Infographic

The ASERT collaborative, led by the Eastern Region, conducted a survey of justice system professionals to determine their current autism knowledge and discern their training needs and priorities. This infographic provides a quick overview of the results of that survey.

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Questions to Ask if an Individual with Autism is Missing

A resource for police officers and emergency personnel when dealing with a situation involving a missing individual. These questions are listed below as well as being available to download under the general information section.

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Who has ASERT Trained?

From 2009 to 2014, the Pennsylvania Autism Census found that the number of Pennsylvanians with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) receiving services increased from nearly 20,000 individuals to over 55,000 individuals. The number of individuals with autism who had contact with the juvenile or criminal justice systems also increased. The location, the circumstances, and the outcomes are different in each case, but there is an underlying theme in each incident – a call for training for law enforcement and justice system professionals on how to identify and interact with individuals with autism.

In 2014, The ASERT Collaborative Eastern Region conducted a survey of justice system professionals in Pennsylvania regarding their knowledge of autism. This survey identified specific training needs for justice system professionals to improve their interactions with individuals with autism. Prior to and as a result of this survey, free tailored trainings with content specific to the role and counties of the trainees have been delivered by the ASERT Eastern and Western Regions. Since 2014, the ASERT Collaborative has trained over 3,200 justice system professionals:

  • 390 Philly Police Officers
  • 2,282 Justice System Professionals
  • 611 Magisterial Judges

Training can be customized but includes:

  • a clinical overview of autism
  • tools and strategies for justice system professionals, including: arrest, transport intake and interviews, obtaining samples, appearing in court, and more

The ASERT Collaborative utilizes data on individuals with autism, the services they use, and their justice system interactions to tailor training to the needs of specific geographic areas, age groups, and other characteristics.

To request a training, please contact info@paautism.org.

Social Stories

The Law Social Story, Parts 1-4

These social stories were created to describe the various aspects of the law and justice system to individuals with autism.

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Before Court – Parts 1 & 2 Social Story

These social stories were created to describe the various components of preparing for court to individuals with autism.

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Appearing in Court Social Story, Parts 1-3

These social stories were created to describe the various aspects of appearing in court to individuals with autism.

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Detention Center Social Story, Parts 1 & 2

These social stories were created to describe the various aspects of being in a detention center to individuals with autism.

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When to Call 911 – Parts 1 & 2 Social Story

These social stories were created to describe the various aspects of determining when to call 911, for individuals with autism.

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Traffic Stop – What to Expect Social Story

These social stories were created by ASERT to describe the various aspects of a traffic stop and what to expect for individuals with autism.

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Pat Down Searches – What to Expect Social Story

These social stories were created to describe the process of pat down searches and what to expect for individuals with autism.

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Police Transport Social Story

This social story developed by ASERT shows what to expect when transported in a police car.

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How to Create a Social Story

This resource is designed to help justice system professionals create social stories for individuals with autism who may become involved in the juvenile or criminal justice system. Read below to learn more about creating social stories.

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Additional Guidance

Guide to Emergency Information Collection in PA

People with autism may get scared or confused in an emergency. It can help first responders to know about a person with autism when they are responding to an emergency in the home so that they may help them. Some counties in PA collect information about which households have people with special health needs. If there is an emergency, the county will share this information with first responders. Each county is different, please contact your county’s Office of Emergency Management to learn about your county. You can additionally reach out to your local police department to ensure they are aware.

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S.A.F.E.R

Many individuals living with autism have difficulties processing information, processing sensory input, communicating effectively, and responding in socially appropriate ways. Here are some ways to help alleviate those difficulties so that you, the offender, and the community will be S.A.F.E.R.!

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Appearing in Court for Individuals with Autism

This handout was developed by ASERT for justice system professionals who assist individuals with autism in court appearances.

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How to Approach Individuals with Autism

This information sheet from ASERT provides tips and suggestions for justice system professionals on approaching individuals with autism.

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What are They Telling You? Guide for Justice Professionals

This resource, created by ASERT, provides information for justice and child welfare professionals about different behaviors they may observe in individuals with autism, how those behaviors may be misinterpreted, and what they may actually mean.

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People with Intellectual Disability in the Criminal Justice System

People with intellectual, cognitive or developmental disabilities get involved as both victims and suspects/offenders more often than individuals without disabilities.

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Juvenile Justice

Frequently asked questions about youth with disabilities in regards to the justice system.

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Information for Law Enforcement and Other First Responders

This document contains a description of autism, ways that individuals with autism may behave, and considerations for first responders when interacting with people with autism.

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Autism Speaks: Information for Law Enforcement

This article from Autism Speaks provides general information for law enforcement personnel about autism as well as some useful tips for interacting with an individual who may have autism.

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The Juvenile Justice Process

There are many differences between the Juvenile Justice System and the Adult Criminal Justice System. This document shows the Juvenile Justice Process in PA.

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ASERT Justice Interaction Videos

Interview with Probation Officer

In this video, an Allegheny County Juvenile Probation officer conducts an intake interview of a teenager with autism. As is suggested in the video, in order to make communication more effective for individuals with autism use short sentences, show pictures, repeat information as needed, give the individual time to respond and check for understanding.

Interview with a Probation Officer

Miranda Rights: Correct Approach

This video demonstrates the correct way to explain Miranda Rights to an individual with autism. The police officer speaks slowly, checks for understanding, allows the father to clarify what the officer is saying so his daughter has a better understanding of what her rights are and what she should do and not do.

Miranda Rights Correct Approach

Miranda Rights: Wrong Approach

This video demonstrates the incorrect way to explain Miranda Rights to an individual with autism. The officer speaks quickly, gives little to no time to respond, does not check for understanding, uses a loud voice and is argumentative with the father who is advocating for his daughter.

Miranda Rights- Wrong Approach

Officer Approaches: Video 1

In this video, a police officer approaches a man with autism who appears to be trying to get into a car. The officer asks for the individuals name, asks what he is doing, asks if there is anyone else with him and while administering a pat down search assures him he is there to help the young man.

Officer Approaches: Video 1

Officer Approaches: Video 2

In this video, a police officer approaches a young man who appears to have wandered from home. The officer assures the young man he is there to help, that the young man is not in any trouble and that the officer wants to get the young man home because his mother is worried.

Officer Approaches: Video 2

Officer Pats Down: Video 1

In this video, the police officer explains the reason the pat down search is necessary before he can transport the young man in his squad car. The officer again is reassuring, telling the young man he is not in trouble and that the officer is there to help. The officer also warns the young man before he touches him.

Officer Pats Down: Video 1

Officer Pats Down: Video 2

In this video, a police officer is taking an individual with autism, who is a suspect in a crime, into custody. The officer explains that the individual with autism will need to be searched and handcuffed as he tries to reassure the individual who is clearly bothered by the search.

Officer Pats Down: Video 2

Officer Pats Down: Video 3

In this video, a police officer, conducts a pat down search on an individual with autism and escorts him from the courtroom.

Officer Pats Down: Video 3

Squad Car: Video 1

In this video, a police officer transports a teenager with autism in his squad car. The officer reassures the young man that he won’t be in the car long and warns him before touching him as he puts the young man’s seatbelt on.

Squad Car: Video 1

Squad Car: Video 2

In this video, a police officer transports another young man with autism in his squad car. The officer reassures the young man that the handcuffs will be removed and the ride will be over quickly.

Squad Car: Video 2

Transport to Station

In this video, a police officer is taking an individual with autism from court to the police station. The officer uses both the lights and the siren and the young man with autism is clearly distressed by this.

Transport to Station

What Judges are Saying About ASD

In this video, judges and other court personnel discuss the importance of autism education and awareness in the justice system.

What Judges are Saying

Officer Follow-Up

In this video, the police officer who participated in all the previous videos discusses the importance of disseminating information to others.

Officer Follow-Up