By Chris Bavender
Last month, a video out of Florida showed Charles Kinsey, an autistic man’s caretaker, getting shot by police who were responding to reports of a man threatening to shoot himself. Police had ordered Kinsey and the patient, who was sitting in the street with a toy truck, to lie on the ground. Kinsey is seen in the video on his back with his hands up while trying to get his patient to comply.
It’s situations such as this the Behavior Analysis Center for Autism in Fishers and Autism Speaks in New York City hope to avoid in Indiana with a free autism safety training for first responders Aug. 26. The training is open to law enforcement officers, fire department personnel, EMT/paramedics, search and rescue teams, school and community safety organizations, and any other individual who has a career as a first responder. It is designed to increase first responders’ knowledge of autism and provide practical tips and strategies for use in the field.
“A person with autism may have communication challenges, may not be able to say their phone number or even ask for help, and they may be drawn to dangerous areas like bodies of water or areas of traffic or construction, exposure to the elements,” Lindsay Naeder, Autism Response Team director with Autism Speaks, said. “That, coupled with not fully understanding danger and not being able to communicate, can really put a person with autism at risk.”
Also a part of the mission is providing autistic individuals and their families with the safety resources and tools, including education, on how to interact with first responders during emergency situations.
“The Behavior Analysis Center for Autism feels strongly about connecting first responders with the autism community, and we are thankful to Autism Speaks for making this autism safety training possible,” Sarah Cox, BACA Director of Marketing in Fishers, said. “We hope to continue to build relationships with law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, etc., as educating others on the autism community is important.”
The training is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 26 at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield. To register for the free training, visit http://tinyurl.com/jyv3u87. For more, email Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org.