In a move applauded by the Director of the Autism Program affiliated with ISU, Illinois is offering special training to paramedics and firefighters in communicating with autistic citizens. Karla Doepke says misunderstandings between first responders and those with autism can have tragic consequences:
"Firefighters coming in to save someone, an indivudual with autism may not understand what they're doing and would back away or hide. And communication with them is typically better if there is a visual support, like a picture of something, like 'here's what you need to do,' or 'come with me, I'm safe."
Doepke says a towering figure in a mask in a chaotic situation can be frightening to anyone, and can be especially difficult for those with autism. The 8-hour on-line training is free.
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