CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Autism awareness organization to hold a community conversation for Ogden residents

Apr 19, 2022, 5:56 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 11:42 am
A community conversation about autism awareness will take place in Ogden....
A South Ogden sign pictured in South Ogden on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. Photo credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

SALT LAKE CITY — Awesome Autistic Ogden will hold a community conversation this week for anyone wanting to learn about preventing escalation in situations involving people with autism.

What the event will cover

The event’s Facebook page said it will be a discussion with educators and law enforcement about autism, neurodiversity, and disability.

Awesome Autistic Ogden and Ogden City Police shared the graphic below containing the meeting details for the community conversation.

Police and autism event flyer

Stacy Bernal, the founder of Awesome Autistic Ogden, said the conversation is open to anyone wanting to join. It will be held over Zoom at 6 p.m. on April 21.

“The conversation is around how we can all work together, as [a] community, as educators, as law enforcement,” said Bernal.

Bernal said the organization wanted to teach bystanders what they can do to help prevent situations from escalating.

The event’s Facebook page also said the conversation would touch on how to create the best partnership between schools and law enforcement, with a focus on student crises.

The discussion will also explore opportunities for law enforcement to learn about disability, mental health, and challenging behaviors students may sometimes exhibit.

Bernal noted that her 16-year-old son has autism and that she worries about him having interactions with law enforcement. Bernal added that she has had conversations with her son about how to interact in those situations.

The event will have a law enforcement representative, a principal from Weber School District, and a special education behavioral expert from Ogden School District participating.

The organization has held three other events in April for Autism Awareness Month.

Autism awareness beyond the event

Bernal explained that Awesome Autism Ogden focuses on young adults with autism. 

“We tend to have more resources for younger people… it’s still a struggle getting resources, but they have more when they’re younger. The older they get, the resources thin out,” she said.

Bernal also serves on the Autism after 21 Utah Initiative, a statewide initiative that researches the resources communities offer once people with autism age out of the school system.

For Awesome Autistic Ogden, the possibility of expanding beyond annual, Ogden-centric events is there. 

“I would love to see something where we can help facilitate gatherings or events,” Bernal said.

But for now, Bernal added, she wants to help people in her immediate community.

“Autistic people are really extraordinary. And we just need to embrace them and help them be a part of our communities,” Bernal said.

Related: Draper Park Middle School student uses SafeUT app to report gun on campus

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