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RISE Autism Hosts Training for First Responders

RISE Autism, a program uniquely designed for students and individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and who are deaf, blind, or deafblind, hosted a half-day training for Talladega City and County School Resource Officers as well as the Talladega City Fire Department. 

“First responders need to know how to interact with all members of the community they serve,” said Brandon Crosby, Volunteer, The Arc of North Talladega County. “These types of training will allow Talladega’s first responders to have smoother communication. It builds a bridge between them and the Autism community.” 

Captain Ronald Harrell of the Talladega Fire Department agreed. “It’s important for us to get the training we need to better interact with the individuals in our community. When a child sees us in our full firefighter gear, it can be scary. We need to be familiar with the strategies that help us effectively communicate with them and de-escalate their sense of fear.” 

The training was facilitated by Dustin Chandler of Interaction Advisory Group, an organization that provides customized disability awareness and training for first responders as well as other public service officials, educators, and private sector workers. 

The training included tips for communicating with people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, a discussion of scene management techniques, a review of de-escalation techniques and why they are an important first step, and an introduction to resources available to assist First Responders beyond this training session. 

“With our school resource officers (SROs) working in the school system, we encounter a lot of special needs including Autism,” said Sergeant Kenny Archer, SRO Supervisor. “When this training was offered, we knew that Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) was the best place to get the training we needed to support Talladega’s students.”

“The opportunity to provide Autism Spectrum Disorder training to First Responders in our community is very important, not only to AIDB RISE Autism but also to the children, adults, and families we serve through our K-12 and adult programs,” said Wendi Glass, Program Coordinator, RISE Autism. “I'm hoping this training is the beginning of a long-term partnership with our local First Responders and that the premise is expanded statewide as we continue to learn from one another on how to provide the best services to the communities where our children and adults with sensory loss and Autism Spectrum Disorder learn, live, and work.”

RISE Autism has plans to continue to provide training opportunities with an upcoming training at AIDB’s North Campus in Decatur, Alabama.