RUMFORD — A federal probation officer will offer training on autism spectrum disorders from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 30.

April is National Autism Awareness Month.

Matt Brown, a 25-year veteran of state and federal law enforcement agencies, will provide the training to first responders, medical providers, community members, educators and court officials, at the Holy Savior Parish Hall on Maine Avenue in Rumford.

Brown is also an instructor at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy on the topic, and is the parent of a child with an autism spectrum disorder, Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant said Wednesday in a news release.

“Matt Brown does an excellent job in his presentations,” Gallant said. “With the month of April quickly coming to a close, I thought it was crucial that we continue to educate medical providers, first responders, educators, and community members in autism awareness well beyond this month of Autism Awareness.”

Gallant said the 289 percent increase in the past 10 to 12 years in individuals being diagnosed with autism “is staggering.”


“It is now believed that nearly one in 68 children are and can be diagnosed with this developmental disability,” he said.

Persons with a developmental disability like autism display many behaviors that law enforcement and other first responders can easily misinterpret, with tragic results, he said.

“Persons with autism often wander and drown, and are increasingly becoming involved in the criminal justice system, as both defendants and victims,” Gallant said. “It is imperative that all agencies involved in these situations be knowledgeable about the issue to ensure the safety of both the person affected as well as the first responders involved in these calls.”

Gallant said it’s equally important that court personnel — including prosecutors, victim-witness advocates, defense counsels, probation officers and judges — be informed on this issue to ensure a just resolution when these matters reach the criminal justice system.

He said Brown has trained thousands of first responders in Maine and beyond about this critical issue for more than 10 years. Brown is an instructor with the Crisis Intervention Team program and recently formed Autism Safety Education & Training to bring the training to other states.

Brown will also discuss his vision of creating a Developmental Disability and Autism Response Team in Oxford County.

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