Mom and former law enforcement officer creates AutismTalk app to help police and first responders interact and communicate with an individual that has autism.
Less than a year ago, Stephanie Cooper a former law-enforcement officer and a mother to a child on the autism spectrum started Autism Law Enforcement Response Training Corporation (ALERT), a 501 C3 nonprofit autism training program for law enforcement and first responders. They also provide officers and emergency personnel with autism sensory kits designed to help give them an extra tool needed when responding to an emergency call regarding an individual on the autism spectrum. In that time, Cooper has trained more than 29 agencies and over 1,000 law enforcement officers and emergency personnel in four states.
Now Cooper is taking her mission one step further through the AutismTalk app. It is an interactive communication app that helps first responders communicate quickly with someone on the autism spectrum through picture-based messaging.
“Every first responder, from law enforcement to firefighters and emergency medical workers, will come in contact with someone on the autism spectrum at least once in their career,” Cooper said. “Having the AutismTalk app will allow them to communicate quickly with someone who is nonverbal or has difficulty speaking.”
The AutismTalk app was inspired by Cooper’s ALERT autism training program. As part of the program, Cooper has individuals on the autism spectrum attend the first half of her autism training classes to meet and interact with officers and first responders so they can see firsthand the different behaviors and characteristics of autism.
“During all of my autism training classes I would show first responders and law enforcement officers the communication apps our children with autism use,” Cooper said. “In every autism training class I have taught, I have had numerous law enforcement officers and first responders ask the same question, ‘Why isn’t there an app for us?’”
According to Cooper, AutismTalk App is the first app of its kind. The app includes picture communication boards with categories for law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency medical services (EMS) as well as several other interactive features such as body models that allow you to tap and show a first responder where you are hurt or injured, a police sketch tool that allows you to select a perpetrator’s facial features and body type and a universal pain chart.
“This app is important to me as a parent that has a child on the autism spectrum because if something were to happen to me whether it be a car wreck, I am injured and I am unable to speak for my son, that first responders will be able to understand and have that extra tool which will allow them to communicate quickly with my son or another child or adult who is nonverbal or has difficulty speaking,” Cooper said.
AutismTalk App costs $8.99 and is available for iOS and Android. And one-third of the proceeds will be donated to the Autism Law Enforcement Response Training Corporation a 501(c)(3) to keep providing free autism training and autism sensory kits to law-enforcement and first responders
Autism Talk – A Visual Communication Tool by DEVELOP ROBOTS, LLC
– Stephanie Cooper