CLARK COUNTY, Nevada (FOX5) - Detention Alternative for Autistic Youth (DAAY) is the only court of its kind in the nation with the goal to help those on the autism spectrum get out of the juvenile system.
DAAY's goal is to keep those kids from becoming adult offenders.
“Most of youth that we see have domestic violence battery charges, battery charges, or battery on a school teacher/school employee charges,” Hearing Master Soonhee “Sunny” Bailey said.
When a child gets in trouble, the process to get into DAAY court begins with a probation officer screening the child.
If the officer sees if they are on the spectrum, they are sent to DAAY, Bailey said.
The juvenile delinquent then ends up on the DAAY court calendar, and the district attorney, probation officer, and public defender are then able to determine whether or not the child is eligible for services.
“By focusing on their needs, getting them in the support group and starting them out at the ABA process here in court. We are helping them become successful later on and the goal is they won’t end up in the adult system,” Judge Bailey said.
Through the autism court, many are able to get the individual attention their child needs.
“During these court hearings they're really picking and choosing what really benefits the child and family," FEAT executive director Jennifer Strobel said.
Some of the hardships families face is with the assessment process taking too long to properly diagnose their child.
Due to needs in the community this normally takes about six to 12 months.
Because of this, most kids with autism who get into trouble will not have their needs met or may get wrapped up into a mental health service or basic juvenile delinquency program that doesn't properly address their needs, DAAY staff said.
“This is huge for our state, this is a whole community that has never really been able to have a voice. And with this court they are getting a voice they’re being seen as a whole person before they are just seen for their legal issues. When they are seen for those legal issues they are seen as a whole picture and they can justify on what needs to be done on those cases they’re currently under,” Spectrum on Ice board member Kimberly Palma-Ortega said.
During DAAY sessions, families get the opportunity to have their child evaluated, and get the proper resources their child may need for free.
DAAY is held every other Thursday in Clark County Family Court, each time they meet about 20 autism resource programs come to meet with the families to offer advice and guidance.
Since the court started about a year ago it's helped more than 25 kids and eight of those have graduated through the program.