First Responders Train to Help Those with Autism

First responders train to handle individuals with autism during an emergency.
First responders train to handle individuals with autism during an emergency.

First responders across the Valley attended training Wednesday to learn how to best deal with autistic children during stressful situations like an emergency.

As more and more children are diagnosed with autism, police, fire, and emergency responders need to know how to help.

The Autism Society of Ohio Mahoning Valley teamed up with the Mahoning County Mental Health Board to train first responders on Wednesday.

“If you don’t understand the behaviors associated with children on the autism spectrum, or should I say young adults on the autism spectrum, it could be dangerous both for child and first responder,” said Aundrea Cika with the Autism Society of Ohio, Mahoning Valley.

Sgt. Mark Farrar with the Akron Police Department has an autistic son. He now prepares his fellow officers, fire officials and EMT’s to deal with autistic behaviors and responses.

“Anxiety goes hand in hand with autism. So often times children or adults with autism are put in situations that are unfamiliar to them, their anxiety goes up,” said Ferrar. “And when they become fearful and anxious, their communication goes down.”

Farrar said autistic children also have a tendency to flee, so first responders need to expect that.

“So, training like this is crucial to not only have a safe encounter, but a successful encounter,” he said.

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