New training video aims to educate first responders on Autism

At a press conference on Tuesday, Autism Society of Central Texas Executive Director Suzanne Potts said their new Autism training video will be offered to first responders all across the country to use free of charge. 

Arlington Police have already signed on.

"They've required all of their department and staff...anyone to take the video, watch it and sign off that they saw the video," Potts said.

Potts explained the need for the video.

"49% of kids with Autism wander.  And 91 % of kids that drown in the United States are kids with Autism.  So we are seeing shocking statistics nationally about kids within our community that are injured and adults that are getting arrested or detained," Potts said.

As addressed in the video, many times first responders mistake Autism for drug use. The video teaches first responders to communicate in a different way when dealing with Autism.

"A lot of times they say 'look me in the eye' or 'look at me' and some of our Autism community have a hard time with eye contact.  And so that may not be an indicator of drug use, it may be that they have Autism and they need some extra time," Potts said.

"Part of that training, a big part of that training is for us to understand when to back off and how to use different techniques and approaches on properly assessing our patient," said Captain John Collins with the Round Rock Fire Dept.

Collins has a special needs daughter so he helped with the video and he's been working with Williamson County on their training as well.

"I don't go to work and I don't go on a call to go help myself.  I'm going to help other people.  Part of me going to help that other person, I need to know as much as I possibly can about any type of person whether it's heart conditions, stuff with the lungs, anything like that and this is another component that will help every first responder do their job a little bit better," Collins said.

The Autism Society says the next step is to launch the video nationally.  It will be available free of charge for first responders.  The Autism Society is hoping to produce more training videos as well.

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