This post is by Serena Selkin, Grants Manager and Nora Rubovitz, Assistant Director, Family Services Projects.
In 2011, Autism Speaks awarded a $17,000 Family Services Community Grant to the South Norfolk County ARC, entitled Autism and Law Enforcement Education Coalition (ALEC). ALEC training helps foster a deeper understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders among public safety and law enforcement personnel. Training is available for police officers, emergency personnel and firefighters, using curriculum and videos specific to each group. The goal of ALEC training is to provide additional tools to use in assessing the risk of a situation. The ARC hosts trainings for First Responders, Open Houses at Fire and Police Departments that are open only to individuals with autism and their families, and hosts trainings for parents on how to educate their children about emergency and crisis situations.
On Monday, June 18, 2012, we visited the Autism Awareness for Firefighters program at the New Rochelle, NY Fire Department. We observed the excellent and informative training conducted by Captain Bill Cannata of the Westwood, MA Fire Department. We got to meet all the wonderful men and women who save lives on a daily basis and want to learn more on how to ensure best practices when a person with autism is affected by a fire or other potentially life threatening situation.