NIU today | Autism Caregiver Group Partners with DeKalb Police for Safety Event


The Northern Illinois University Autism Caregiver Group partners with the DeKalb Police Department on February 24 for a fun safety event at the police department, 700 W. Lincoln Highway, from 5-6:30 p.m.

“The primary goal of the Autism Caregiver Group is to provide resources and programs that meet the daily needs of families,” said Allison Gladfelter, NIU associate professor of speech-language pathology who helps oversee the group. “This year, some families in our group specifically requested more information about child safety, so we reached out to DeKalb Police Commander. Steve Lekkas to develop this event together.

DeKalb school resource officers, social workers and Cmdr. Lekkas will share information with families about how children with autism might interact with police at school, home or in the community. Families will have the opportunity to tour the police station and meet officers, and NIU student volunteers will be there to participate in child-friendly activities.

Gladfelter said families of children with autism face a variety of safety challenges, such as the need to secure their home environment beyond infancy, children wandering, water safety or bullying. .

“Learning how the police can help families if their children wander or are drawn to water or how school resource officers can keep a child safe at school is critical for our families,” Gladfelter said. “We hope attendees leave our event feeling more confident about what community supports are available to them and how the police can help them.”

The presentation will be in English and Spanish language supports will be available to ensure that language is not a barrier for families who need support.

The event is free. Please contact Alison Gladfelter at to reserve a spot or to learn more about the group.


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