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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 Aspergerâs syndrome.
Sgt. John Carter, the departmentâs 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.
âWeâll have it up as soon as we can for parents willing to give information about their child,â 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.
âIt 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,â 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 childâs counselor and/or therapist.
âAny added information will always help. We know whatâs going on when weâve been to a house already, but with this form, when we go to a new house, weâll have that information,â Carter said.
The form is part of the departmentâs effort toward dealing with children with autism and Aspergerâs, a disorder which can sometimes make communication difficult.
In January, Chief Thomas Coyle staged a departmentwide training session on Aspergerâs 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.