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The Autism Project and the ASD community in the news!

RI first responders being trained on autism spectrum disorder

U.S. Senator Jack Reed making Autism more aware (Courtesy: Senator Jack Reed’s office)

JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — U.S. Senator Jack Reed and The Autism Project (TAP) teamed up to make an educational video to help first responders learn how to communicate with people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

There are close to 22,000 Rhode Islanders who have autism, according to TAP, and the initiative aims to raise awareness and create a safer community for all. TAP said it’s the latest in a series of training videos and events they’ve done in Rhode Island.

The video is called Emergencies from an Autistic POV: Sensory Overload + Elopement.

Elopement is common for people, especially children, on the ASD. It is when they wander from those caring for them or secure locations. The goal of the new video and training is to show police and firefighters how to respond to that type of situation and prevent accidental harm to those involved.

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Reed and TAP held an event Monday to screen the video, along with first responders, the Public Safety Special Needs Coalition (PSSNC), state and local officials, and community members.

“The Autism Project is doing critical work to improve the lives of individuals with ASD and provide vital support to families and caregivers all throughout our state,” Reed said.

“We appreciate Senator Reed’s ongoing support of our work to keep autistic people safe within their communities. Building knowledge and positive relationships is a win for everyone,” TAP Executive Director Joanne Quinn added.

TAP’s public safety series, or Roll Call Videos, were created in part through a $100,000 federal grant under Kevin and Avonte’s Law. The law, which passed with Reed’s help, honors two boys with autism who died after leaving their supervised surroundings.

To date, Kevin and Avonte’s Law has helped spread more than $10 million to communities across the country, according to Reed’s office. It includes an alert program for missing individuals with autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and other developmental disabilities.

The Rhode Island Department of Health has a Special Needs Emergency Registry (RISNER). It helps caregivers and family members let local police, fire, and other first responders in their communities, better prepare for and respond to their needs during a natural disaster or other emergency.

Written By: Benjamin Aliber (WPRI12)