FDLE recognizes National Autism Awareness Day

For Immediate Release
April 2, 2024
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) today marks National Autism Awareness Day, which kicks off National Autism Awareness Month.

According to, 1 in 36 children in the U.S. have autism. Boys are nearly four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.

Two years ago, FDLE’s Missing Endangered Persons Information Clearinghouse (MEPIC) launched a training course for 911 telecommunicators to assist in the safe recovery of children with autism who go missing. This training outlines the steps telecommunicators should use, including what questions to ask, when determining whether a reported missing child may have the signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Compared to others, children with autism are at a higher risk of drowning. Because of the risk, missing children who have autism may meet the criteria for an Enhanced Missing Child Alert through MEPIC.  The Enhanced Missing Child Alert targets a specific community, within a pre-defined geographical radius, with information about a missing child.

FDLE Director of Investigations and Forensic Science Mike Phillips said, “When working to find a missing child, ensuring investigators have timely and correct information is paramount. This important training equips telecommunicators with the skills and knowledge to discern when a missing child may have autism so that investigators can adjust their strategies accordingly and increase the chances of the child’s safe recovery.”

Since launching the online training course, nearly 8,000 911 telecommunicators have taken advantage of the training. The training is available on FDLE’s Online Mandatory Training webpage here.

For Further Information Contact:
FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Priorities

FDLE is composed of five areas: Executive Direction and Business Support, Criminal Investigations and Forensic Science, Criminal Justice Information, Criminal Justice Professionalism and Florida Capitol Police. FDLE’s duties, responsibilities and procedures are mandated through Chapter 943, FS, and Chapter 11, FAC. To learn more about these areas, read our Statement of Agency Organization and Operation or visit our Open Government page.