Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Autism Training For First Responders

I ran across a fascinating story today about a training session that went on Tuesday called "Autism and the First Responders" where a panel of parents of autistic children met with police, ambulance and fire crews, plus several private security firms to give them the straight skinny on how to handle it if they are faced with an autistic person in full-blown meltdown.

Seems that those unfamiliar with autism can perceive certain actions as threatening or violent when they are in fact a result of the disorder.

One of the panelists, James Mulvaney described it as, "Autism is a condition that sometimes looks like a crime - but a seizure is not an assault."

Participants were instructed to look for signs of autism such as flailing about, distant stares, rocking or speech with repetitive phrases.

They also were instructed that autistic children and adults might ignore verbal or visual commands. "You just want to step back and see what you have," explained Michael Capobianco, a Nassau police officer who has an 8-year-old son with autism. "Don't be the guy running over to save the world."

Of course there are certain people who obviously haven't been briefed on the fact that this is sound advise when dealing with ME.

An independent story about the panel seems to almost be saying that a wandering autistic child can be more stress-inducing than a terrorist attack.

If I understand him correctly, the author of this piece, James Mulvaney, has a 20-year-old autistic son named Dan who he's afraid might one day be mistaken for a criminal by mall security and that and attempt to detain him could turn bloody.

My Old Man, who I'm sure has a scorching case of Asperger's, I have held similar fears. One of these days they MAY have to go after him. The only problem is that, as it was described in one episode of The Incredible Hulk - you go charging in there like the first eight bars of "Tiger Rag" and he'll tear the place apart ...



At November 21, 2007 at 8:12 PM, Anonymous Maddy said...

Well I hope they have a thorough training. With the spectrum being as wide as it is, that might take a while.


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