Local group partners with Louisiana Developmental Disability Council

Originally Published on 280Living.com
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The Interaction Advisory Group (IAG) recently announced its expansion into the state of Louisiana in collaboration with the Louisiana Developmental Disability Council (LaDDC).

Inverness resident Dustin Chandler, president and co-founder of IAG, said he was very excited about the collaboration on this important training.

“As with all of our first responder training, we want to give law enforcement officers and other first responders the actionable tools needed to have safe interactions with the developmental disability community,” Chandler said. “Safety of those living with autism and other developmental disabilities is our number one priority along with the safety of the first responder.”

IAG has been conducting first responder training since 2015 and has trained mostly in Alabama; however, it has trained in other states including Texas and Georgia.

“Though we have trained in those states, it is nothing like the scale we are in Alabama and Louisiana,” Chandler said. “Those two states’ DD Councils have made it a priority to get the training done.”

Through funding from LaDDC, IAG began training deputies at the Bossier Sheriff’s Office in Bossier Parish, Louisiana.

Chandler said IAG is very fortunate to have the Bossier Sheriff’s Office be the launch site for its training. The command staff there was the first to attend training, which Chandler said is very important.

“We want the command staff to know and understand what it is we are teaching and obtain their confidence that we have their safety as well as the safety of those they serve are at the top of our mind,” he said.

Upon completion of the training, Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office Capt. Sarah Rhodes said the training IAG provided was fantastic.

“The training that Dustin and Interaction Advisory Group provide is fantastic,” Rhodes said. “Dustin has a way of sharing the facts about autism and developmental disabilities in a way I haven’t seen before. The signs and common traits of autism, interaction techniques and caregiver importance is all content that Dustin introduces during this training.”

Rhodes added that the chance for a law enforcement officer to have an encounter with someone with autism or developmental disability is extremely high, so officers need the knowledge and skills offered in this training to ensure a positive interaction.

“All law enforcement officers need this training,” she said.

IAG will also be conducting community training that will be aimed at teaching families what to expect from law enforcement and first responder interactions and also sharing valuable resources with community members.

Community training plays a critical role in bridging the gap of understanding between the first responder and developmental disability communities. Chandler said that their self-advocate training is very important.

“We want self-advocates and their caregivers to know what to expect during interactions and know their rights to ensure fair treatment of those individuals,” he said.

IAG will be disseminating information about programs in the state of Louisiana available to residents, programs and groups like LaDDC, LaCAN, Partners in Policymaking, Families Helping Families, as well as regional and state-wide autism resources.

Training will be conducted monthly through 2021 and will be conducted virtually with IAG’s learning management system and virtual classroom.