ALEC (Autism and Law Enforcement Education Coalition)

ALEC began in 2003 as a collaborative effort of the The Arc of South Norfolk Family Autism Center and the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office. The program was started with start-up funds from Dedham Savings Bank in Dedham, MA. ALEC training helps foster a deeper understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) among public safety and law enforcement personnel.

  • Training is available for police officers, firefighters and emergency and courtroom personnel, using curriculum and videos specific to each group. Basic EMTs, intermediate EMTs and paramedics earn 3 OEMS hours (continuing education hours) for ALEC training.
  • Presenters are First Responders with direct knowledge of Autism Spectrum Disorders through a family member. The audience hears from a colleague with personal knowledge and an extraordinary investment in the program. The goal of ALEC training is to complement but not replace previous training and to provide additional tools to use in assessing the risk of a situation.

ASD is now believed to occur in one out of every 68 births. It touches nearly everyone’s life at some point. Make certain that you and your organization have the knowledge that you need to protect and communicate with people with ASD. To find out more about ALEC, contact Bill Cannata at or at 781-762-4001 ext. 420.

Bill is a Captain in the Westwood MA Fire Department retired, and is the Statewide ALEC Coordinator. The ALEC Project is supported in part with funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Autism Spectrum Division.

Click here to get a copy of the ALEC brochure.


In 2018, the ALEC program was chosen by The Arc Tank for a grant-and, was selected as “crowd favorite” through audience participation.  Since then ALEC has provided training to First Responders throughout New England with support of The Arc Tank grant.  Please see the most recent article in Warwick, Rhode Island on our partnership with The Arc Tank,

The Arc of South Norfolk’s Family Autism Center is pleased to announce it has recently received a grant from Bailey’s Team for Autism in support of our ALEC Program! Bailey’s Team for Autism is a regional funding source for organizations that support individuals living with autism spectrum disorders and their families, with a focus on research, education and programming. To Learn more about Bailey’s Team click here.

Statement regarding North Miami, Florida incident:

The incident that took place on July 21, 2016 in North Miami, Florida emphasizes the need for First Responder training to appropriately handle situations involving people with autism and related developmental disabilities.  The Arc of South Norfolk is proud that The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) partners with our agency through The Arc of South Norfolk’s ALEC Program (Autism & Law Enforcement Education Coalition).  ALEC is a specialized training program, which provides training to First Response agencies throughout the state and nationally regarding persons with autism and other developmental disabilities.  DDS has funded the ALEC Program since 2006.  To date, ALEC has trained 24,188 First Responders in Massachusetts and an additional 10,859 First Responders throughout the country. 
The ALEC Program is committed to providing training on best practices when having contact with people with autism and related developmental disabilities.  The Arc of South Norfolk sends our thoughts and well wishes for a speedy recovery to the direct support worker who was shot and to the young man with autism.  As the investigation on this incident unfolds, we hope continued dialogue will lead to a better understanding on the importance of trainings to avoid a repeat of this unfortunate situation.  ALEC appreciates the many successful outcomes we have had in working with First Responders such as Police agencies, Fire Departments, EMS, TSA and Homeland Security personnel, outcomes that have resulted from situations involving people with autism and related developmental disabilities throughout Massachusetts.  These successful outcomes have often been due to the training and collaboration that has taken place with local law enforcement and First Response agencies.  ALEC welcomes the opportunity to continue to work with First Response agencies to provide trainings and improve safety for all.    The Arc of South Norfolk and our ALEC Program staff can be reached at 781-762-4001.

Captain Bill Cannata was featured on The Today Show for all of his hard work with The ALEC Program.

Click here to read the article or watch the video below!

Members of the ALEC Program presented at the 2016 Autism Awareness Day at the Massachusetts State House.

Pictured left to right: Officer Michelle Maffeo from Boston Police, Beth Rimas from Boston EMS and Captain Tom Buckley from Foxboro Fire Department.