January 24, 2009

Being A Good Bra!

Last night, I got all serious and what-not, I mean really serious, and I thought I’d keep the tone of tonight’s post… light-hearted.

I’d like to tell you more about an organization I’m involved with.

No, it isn’t some underground movement whose dastardly plan is world domination… although, that would be pretty cool. {wink}

I am a member of Autism Society of America, and I chose this organization because they do not speak of a “cure” or “recovery”.  Something, most of you know I do not support.  They also use the word, “treatment” in a “very limited sense”.

I chose to become a member of ASA because they feel that

It is important to match a child’s potential and specific needs with treatments or strategies that are likely to be effective in moving him/her closer to established goals and greatest potential.

Effectively “move our children closer for established goals and greatest potential”.   I like that.

ASA offers information about Autism, Living with Autism, Research and Programs, as well as information on how one can get involved with the organization as well as the community.

One of the biggest concerns I hear when speaking with parents in our community has to be “how do we keep our children safe when they may not be cognizant of what safety is?”.

My son wears an emergency bracelet whenever we leave home to alert first responders of his autism as well as his food and drug allergies should my husband and I be incapacitated.  Given my son’s language skills, I know he would be unable to properly express himself in the event of an emergency.

What I’ve also discovered is that very few children in our community wear e-bracelets or have on their person any information that will assist emergency personnel in assisting them should the need arise.

Hopefully, this “trend” will soon see its last days, and parents will take greater measures in keeping their children safer.

For parents who may be unsure as to how to do just that… ASA offers that assistance by way of an initiative they call Safe and Sound©.

ASA began the Safe and Sound initiative in 2005 to provide much-needed resources to the autism community on topics such as general safety, emergency preparedness and prevention, and risk management. Safe and Sound works to develop information and strategies that are beneficial to individuals on the spectrum, their families and the professionals who work with them. Another significant aspect of Safe and Sound is to provide information and training to various first responders—those who are first on the scene in an emergency situation.

Safe and Sound helps parents and professionals identify potential public safety or criminal/juvenile justice situations and provide possible solutions so that individuals with autism and those who care for them can be prepared for, stay safe during and avoid these situations.

An emergency decal ($3) is available through their store, and it can be applied to a car window or door.  It also comes with a “Personal Information Record” which, as we all know, is a must-have for emergency situations.

They also offer disaster preparedness tips for parents as well as how to interact with individuals with autism tips for first responders.

But that’s not all, folks.

What does someone with autism do should they wander off and find themselves in an emergency situation , and they are unable to communicate with law enforcement?  Additionally, what information does law enforcement have that will assist them in appropriately interacting with someone with autism?

Enter.. Take Me Home.

This program was developed after a Florida police officer, Jimmy Donohoe, attended an ASA meeting.

… members asked him what parents of non-verbal children could do to improve potential encounters between their children and law enforcement. After making several suggestions that were not acceptable to all the parents, Officer Donohoe left the meeting knowing that he had to do something. The “Take Me Home” program evolved from that meeting so that children on the autism spectrum who may wander will be returned safely and treated with understanding.

In a nutshell, TMH is a database system, developed by the Pensacola Police department in conjunction with Consolidated Technology Solutions, a law enforcement software company, that law enforcement can access to obtain personal information such as a current photo, demographic information and emergency contacts. An officer can query the system by either entering the person’s name or physical description to check for a records match.  Once a match has been found, the officer can better assist the individual.  (Click here to learn more about the program.)

Bra-vo! (bah dum bum)

I commend ASA in their continued efforts to keep our community safe as well as keeping those not living with autism… well-informed.

And like a good bra, I will continue to be supportive of them.

Care to join me?

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