There’s an Initiative in Las Vegas that stands out for its unique approach to addressing the needs of at-risk youth with autism. This initiative is the Detention Alternative for Autistic Youth (DAYY) court, established by Judge Sunny Bailey in 2018. Judge Bailey, throughout her career, noticed a recurring issue of juveniles with autism being caught in the cycle of the criminal justice system.

For example, a child with a teenager struggling to cope with their symptoms and resorting to illegal activities would find themselves in and out of detention centers. This trend alarmed Judge Bailey.

A safe space

According to Chief Deputy District Attorney Summer Clarke, the majority of charges brought against these youth in DAYY court are related to battery or sex offenses. These types of offenses often stem from a lack of understanding of boundaries and appropriate behavior. And when it comes to addressing these issues in court with a child who has autism, there is often a lack of understanding and resources. In courtrooms, these children would easily become overstimulated, distressed, and over-anxious, making it even more difficult for them to participate fully in their own cases.

Judge Bailey explained that this state of being overstimulated occurs when someone with autism becomes very overwhelmed by their environment. With these factors in mind, Judge Bailey established DAYY court as a safe space for these children while their cases are being resolved. 

DAAY court accommodation Features

The DAAY court is not a typical courtroom but is slightly modified to accommodate the sensory needs of these children.  For instance, there are lighting options, noise-canceling headphones on hand, and opportunities for breaks if the child feels overwhelmed.

Moreover, the court has a team of experts, such as therapists and specialists in autism, who collaborate to develop tailored plans for each child to tackle their issues and offer assistance. DAYY court also places emphasis on providing guidance and educational resources for parents and caregivers so they can comprehend and support their child’s requirements effectively.

Other Notable Adjustment

Other notable aspects of DAYY court involve an approach centered on justice, which concentrates on repairing the harm caused by an offense rather than solely punishing the offender. This method also enables victims to express their views during the process, fostering understanding and accountability for all parties involved.The good news is last year, Nevada’s state legislators recognized the positive impact of this program and voted to expand it to other parts of the state, providing more children with autism and their families with access to specialized support in the legal system. As Judge Bailey puts it, We have an obligation to fix this. School can’t do it alone, and neither can home.

Treatment & Support

It takes a collaborative effort from all of us to support children with autism. At Nevada Autism, we firmly believe in the power of intervention to help these children achieve their potential. Our quality therapeutic services, such as Behavioral Analysis and social skills training, aim to support individuals with autism and their families by offering tools and assistance. If you need assistance, feel free to reach out to us.

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