Autism Society of Colorado Offers First Responder Training
DENVER, Colorado – 17 January 2018 – The Autism Society of Colorado is hosting an autism-specific training to police, firefighters, paramedics and juvenile justice professionals in a two-day session beginning January 30, 2018, at the Police Protective Association Center in Denver. Presentation is given by 25 year veterans of law enforcement and fire with children on the autism spectrum.
The training event is a proactive step for first responders in Colorado, to help prevent incidents like what happened in Florida in April 2017. A nonverbal autistic adult eloped from the Miami Achievement Center for the Developmentally Disabled with a silver tanker truck toy. Police responded to a report of a possibly suicidal man walking around with a gun. The man’s behavior therapist, Charles Kinsey was shot by police while trying to help the man to return to the care facility.
“The state of Florida responded to this incident by creating a task force to assess and develop mandatory training for all first responders in their state,” explained Kathryn Dran, Board President of the Autism Society of Colorado (ASC). “ASC is collaborating with leaders from that task force to bring the same training to Colorado—before an incident occurs.”
First responders arrive on scene when traumatic events are happening. For individuals with autism, what may already be horrifying and overwhelming can be amplified further by sirens, flashing lights and strangers shouting orders at survivors. “Autistic individuals can look suspicious if they don’t make eye contact, recoil from physical contact with officers, or don’t comply with orders,” Dran explained. “We are creating an opportunity for individuals and families to meet first responders, and let them meet our families and individuals, in a neutral context, and then learn how to interact productively, without escalating what are already intense situations.”
On the first day of training, first responders, individuals and families will get the chance to get to know one another. During the second day, trainers will provide insights into assessing whether an individual is autistic, and then provide solutions to engaging the individual in positive ways. Continuing education credit is available for first responders who attend.
For information and registration information are available at ascevents.org, or 720-214-0794.