Autism safety training to be held Sept. 16

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By Morgan Bryce
Staff Reporter

Roundhouse, located at 216 S. 8th St. in Opelika, will be hosting the second annual First Responder Training session on Friday, Sep. 16, from 8.m. to noon.
This year’s session is a collaboration between the Autism Society of Albama and the Interaction Advisory Group, and according to information provided on the website, is “designed to educate individuals about the challenges associated with ASD that may impair communication between an individual with ASD and a first responder. Police officers, fire fighters and emergency medical techinicians who are trained to interact with those with a diagnosis of ASD may avoid miscommunications, unnecessary detainments and injuries.”
Luanne Helms, with the Autism Society of Alabama, played a major role in organizing this event.
“My son Jake is non-verbal, and if he were confronted by an officer, he wouldn’t be able to communicate, which would be a problem,” Helms said. “There are incidents all over the country with autistic children or people getting hurt or shot because officers are unable to recognize the signs of autism.”
Helms said she feels the need for training meetings such as these are growing.
“It is crucial and urgent for training sessions like this to happen, because for some, it’s a matter of life and death. In the near future, we will have nearly 50,000 autistic adults in Alabama,” Helms said. “We want to be ahead of the game in addressing this issue so that first responders and others can learn to give these people space and be trained to consider their condition. I want first responders especially to be prepared and not judge things at face value.”
The training session costs $10 dollars and includes a certificate of completion and four continuing education units.
For more information, contact Helms at helmslu@gmail.com.

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