Officers train alongside kids with autism to better understand disability

ELK GROVE, CALIFORNIA -- A new police training program in California helps link autistic children with local police.

Those involved say it's a win-win situation, with the children getting more outside time, and the police getting a better understanding of the disorder.

"Alright, we're ready to jog it back. Awesome!"

Coaches in grey, the players in blue and the future officers in navy.

They may be in uniform, but tonight marks their first time on the field - together.

Vanessa Bieker, a mother of a son with autism, says this program "bridges a gap." Bieker adds that "with autism, it's an invisible disability."

Inspired by her autistic son, John, Bieker, created Fly Fit. An opportunity for children with spectrum disorders to exercise - while getting to know the police officers in their community.

"So if he was melting down or becoming sensory and becoming aggressive and very loud, you may perceive him in a different light other than being autistic," said Bieker.

Bieker says this program is good for the kids and gives them a new level of comfort with police. For the hopeful recruits, it gives them an early exposure to people with disabilities.

"You have to be good with your words," described one of the officers in the program.

For the officers, this is a lesson in recognizing the signs of autism - that may come off as threatening.

"That allows them to decipher: okay this person is not under the influence of a narcotic. In fact, he or she may be on the spectrum," said Jason Jimenez, with the Elk Grove police department.

Eleven-year-old Devin Burrell was just diagnosed last year. His mom Tameka Burrell, is now desperate for the world to give him a chance.

"The most hurtful challenge for me as a mother," Burrell said. "Society needs to welcome them more."

But in this program, she found the open arms she'd been looking for.

"This is my child and I love him, and I will walk to the end of the earth for him, and any child that has special needs deserves that."

This program will continue twice-a-week for the next five weeks.

Fly brave wants to expand to other police departments throughout Sacramento.