Share Tweet Share Email

Autism Caregiver Group addresses criminal justice system issues

February 28, 2017

The NIU Autism Caregiver Group is devoting its upcoming meeting to a topic recently in the news: individuals with autism and the criminal justice system.

Allison Gladfelter, assistant professor of speech-language pathology at NIU, said families in the Autism Caregiver Group were alarmed after a Florida police shooting in July 2016 of an unarmed therapist who was assisting an adult patient with autism.

“The families in our autism caregiver group were concerned when this news story hit. Too often, individuals with autism are caught up in the criminal justice system because our police are not trained on how to recognize symptoms and how to interact with a person with autism,” Gladfelter said. “Thankfully, no one died in the July incident, but there was a very real chance that the man with autism or his therapist could have.”

In response, the Autism Caregiver Group is hosting NIU College of Law faculty member Daniel McConkie at its regular meeting from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, March 9. McConkie will speak about strategies for caregivers to help their child/adolescent/adult child with autism avoid contact with the criminal justice system, how the criminal justice system views and deals with people with autism, and what caregivers can do to help.

The group meets the second Thursday of each month for discussion of personal experiences as well as educational, legal, medical, adaptive and transitional topics. The group is open to all who are caring for a person with autism spectrum disorder. Childcare and refreshments are provided. The group meets at the NIU Family Health Wellness and Literacy Center located at 3100 Sycamore DeKalb. For more information visit or call 815-310-5696.