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Autism Training For First Responders To Expand - featured August 9, 2011

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[Source: Disability Scoop]

Six years ago a Massachusetts fire captain began teaching first responders how to identify and deal with individuals with autism. Now, he’s taking the program national thanks to a federal grant.

Bill Cannata started the Autism and Law Enforcement Education Coalition in 2005 by working with groups in his Westwood, Mass. community.

Today, the organization has touched 17,000 emergency professionals in the Northeast and now with the help of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant will expand to 13 states as far west as Oklahoma.

The training program — led exclusively by those with family members who have autism — coaches first responders to understand how stimuli like sirens or flashing lights could overwhelm an individual with the developmental disorder. Participants learn appropriate responses, such as guiding the person to a calm space and taking the time to listen.

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Tags: News of the Week Autism Newsletter 12 August 2011