By Justin Udo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Local judges and lawyers are learning about the needs and challenges of children with autism in family court.

Montgomery County Judge Kelly Wall says over the last several years they’ve seen increased incident numbers of children on the spectrum coming into court on custody related cases. She wants to bridge the communication gap between judges and lawyers so that the judge can have a better understanding of what the child needs.

“What we’re trying to do here is to educate the lawyers, because they have to educate us,” Wall said. “I see a child a snippet of a case, and they are asking me to make decisions about treatments and custody orders. Many lawyers are not aware of the specificity of autism and the characteristics that challenge these children.”

Karen Markle with NHS Human Services helped set up Wednesday’s town hall on autism in Philadelphia Family Court.

“People often misinterpret things they don’t understand,” Markle said, “and so understanding the world of autism is really important and critical to the judicial system and what they need to accomplish.

During the meeting, court personnel talked about what it means to be on the spectrum, and resources available to parents, lawyers and judges.