Cuyahoga Falls -- Autism prevalence is on the rise, and one Akron police officer has decided to make it his mission to educate the public and first responders about recognizing and responding to autism.

Lt. Mark Farrar, whose son is affected by autism, will speak at a free autism workshop at the Cuyahoga Falls Sheraton Suites on Sept. 20, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The event will educate the public and first responders about how to interact with autistic individuals.

"Many people talk about autism in kids as if it doesn't continue into adulthood. It does, and adults with autism are at a much greater risk of being victims of crimes," said Farrar.

Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the U.S., and the prevalence of autism continues to rise. The Centers for Disease Control statistics show that one in every 68 children is affected with some form of autism. Those with this disorder are seven times more likely to have an encounter with a law enforcement officer.

Farrar's son, Kyle, has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. When Kyle was diagnosed, the lieutenant quickly became a self-taught expert on the subject. Since, he's trained thousands of first responders in autism recognition and de-escalation across the state of Ohio, and has been a keynote speaker in more than 80 presentations.

Sponsored by Western Reserve Hospital, the workshop will feature Farrar's entertaining, emotional, uplifting presentation. Although the event is free, an RSVP is required. To RSVP, contact Western Reserve Hospital's Kathy Romito at 330-971-7408, or First responders who attend the event will be eligible for 3.5 continuing education hours.

-Article submitted by Western Reserve Hospital | Unity Health Network