April is Autism Acceptance Month. Every April, non-profit organizations such as the Autism Society and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network work to highlight the need for equitable access to support, services and resources for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (“ASD”). Legal professionals are in a unique position to support this initiative, as they may encounter or be asked to provide services to an individual on the autism spectrum.
Advocates, attorneys and judges can better serve this community by educating themselves on the communication, social and behavioral characteristics that individuals with ASD may exhibit during the course of their legal representation. Due to the nature of autism, individuals with ASD may not understand their rights or what is expected of them, and may not respond to verbal instruction. Legal professionals should spend additional time preparing an individual on the autism spectrum to participate in the process of a trial by familiarizing him or her with the court room setting and the nature of the proceedings.
Advocates and attorneys may seek to partner with autism professionals to assist with effective communication, eliciting testimony and addressing any heightened anxiety or behaviors that arise. It is imperative for legal professionals to remember that no two people with ASD are the same, and special care must be taken to successfully advocate for individuals on the autism spectrum. For a full discussion of this topic, please refer to the following resources:
Information for First Responders and Other Professionals - Judicial System, Autism Speaks Inc., https://www.autismspeaks.org/judicial-system-autism-legal-issues (last visited April 12, 2022);
- Carolyn Gammicchia & Catriona Johnson, M.S., Living with Autism, Autism Information for Advocates, Attorneys, and Judges, Autism Society (April 2014), https://www.autism-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Advocates_Attorneys_and_Judges.pdf.
Tressler recognizes the importance of this initiative and, in honor of Autism Acceptance Month, pledges to dedicate resources to the autistic community and to seek out opportunities to assist individuals with ASD throughout the coming year. Specifically, in 2022, Tressler will seek to expand its pro bono initiatives towards the autistic community in an effort to better serve individuals on the autism spectrum.
At Tressler, we are proud to #CelebrateDifferences within our firm and through our legal practices. Join us in honoring Autism Acceptance Month by educating yourself and your peers about the characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (“ASD”) and participating in events that directly benefit autistic communities. To learn more or to donate to the Autism Society, please click here.
About the Author:
Kaitlyn A. Forbes
Orange County Office
Kaitlyn is the April Programming Leader for Tressler’s national Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Kaitlyn Forbes is an associate in Tressler’s Insurance Practice Group. Her practice focuses on coverage work and civil litigation. She has experience in a wide range of insurance coverage matters including insurance defense litigation, construction defect coverage litigation, bad faith and extracontractual liability litigation and coverage claims. Kaitlyn’s work includes evaluation and analysis of insurance coverage issues, preparation of coverage opinions and position letters, risk assessment on behalf of insurance carriers and handling all aspects of insurance coverage litigation in state and federal courts. Kaitlyn has obtained favorable results for her clients through settlement of complex multi-party coverage disputes.
About Tressler LLP
Headquartered in Chicago, with eight offices located in five states, Tressler LLP is a national law firm comprised primarily of attorneys who devote their practice to the representation of the insurance industry in coverage analysis and resolution, litigation, underwriting consultation, product development, claims management and reinsurance.
In addition, Tressler has one of the most experienced and multi-faceted government law practices in Illinois, and has attorneys who represent clients in commercial litigation, defense litigation, corporate transactions, employment law and litigation, intellectual property and condominium and common interest community association law.
For more information, please visit www.tresslerllp.com.