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Spotlight on Autism Safety Awareness

As we count down the days until the world lights up blue for World Autism Awareness Day, we are thrilled to also shine a light on autism safety awareness all April long!

Safety is a critical part of all of our lives, whether we are at home or out in the community, alone or with loved ones. However, taking precautions to stay safe is even more important for individuals with autism and their families. Studies show there can be elevated risks for individuals with autism due to many factors, including communication challenges, increased tendency to wander from safety, an inability to fully understand danger and a draw to water. 

As a part of Autism Speaks commitment to promoting the safety of all people with autism, we have partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Project Lifesaver International and the Alliance of the Guardian Angels to increase access to autism safety resources, raise awareness and enhance education of families and first responders on autism wandering prevention and response.  

  • Stay tuned for coverage of NCMEC’s headquarters going blue this April! Learn more about our partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children here.
  • Stay tuned for coverage of the more than 20 Project Lifesaver International locations going blue this April! Learn more about our partnership with PLI here.
  • Over 30 chapters of the Guardian Angels across the country will be going blue by wearing Autism Speaks pins all April long! Learn more about our partnership with the Alliance of the Guardian Angels here

Autism Speaks is also proud to work with the NYPD to provide ongoing autism safety training opportunities to many of their 35,000 active duty officers in NYC precincts, as well as support officers in all ranks who have children with autism. 

On March 17, Autism Speaks staffers participated in the NYPD’s Autism Seminar at 1 Police Plaza open to all NYPD officers and staff who have a child with autism to provide them with information and resources to access services and autism safety resources. Over 150 NYPD officers, staff members and their spouses attended this informative event which kicked off with an inspiring talk from Jesse A. Saperstein, autism advocate and motivational speaker, and was followed by two informational panel discussions, one for parents of young children, and another for parents planning for their teen or young adult with autism. 

Following the event, an officer stated, “I have felt so isolated over the last few months since my daughter was recently diagnosed, but was moved to near tears when I looked around and realized how many other NYPD families are affected by autism.” Autism Speaks commends the NYPD for their demonstrated efforts to increase autism awareness and offer their employees affected by autism support and opportunities to learn about the resources available to them.   

For our families living with autism, a multi-faceted approach to safety is best, with steps taken to prevent and respond to wandering emergencies, including efforts by both families and local first responders to work together on an ongoing basis.

The importance of increasing autism awareness among first responders through training is apparent in recent interactions between police and people with autism, as a result of wandering emergencies, highlighted by the story of a 10-year-old boy with autism who was found safely, thanks to Project Lifesaver officers quick ability to locate him. Or a Jeffersonville Police officer's quick thinking that led to the rescue of a 4-year-old with autism who was found clinging to a ladder in a water treatment pool.

For more information about Autism Speaks first responder training contact Outreach@autismspeaks.org

You can find additional Autism Speaks resources for families and first responders to help prevent wandering here. Visit this page to report an active case of wandering.

Teaching water safety is important! The Autism Speaks Swimming and Water Safety Scholarship Fund selects eligible programs and organizations providing swimming and water safety instruction to individuals with autism to provide scholarships for financially disadvantaged children and adults to attend. Click here to learn more!

If you are seeking additional safety information or resources, the Autism Response Team is happy to help! Call us at 888-288-4762 (en Español 888-772-9050) or email us at familyservices@autismspeaks.org!

Autism Speaks does not provide medical or legal advice or services.  Rather, Autism Speaks provides general information about autism as a service to the community.  The information provided on this site is not a recommendation, referral or endorsement of any resource, therapeutic method, or service provider and does not replace the advice of medical, legal or educational professionals.  Autism Speaks has not validated and is not responsible for any information or services provided by third parties.  You are urged to use independent judgment and request references when considering any resource associated with the provision of services related to autism.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.