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Classes aim to better interaction between first responders, those with autism

Sun - 3/13/2018

The Yuma County Department of Public Health is holding a series of free training sessions this week designed to teach young people with autism and related conditions and first responders how to interact safely with one another.

Ryan Butcher, injury prevention coordinator for the health department, said, "The parents with children living with intellectual or developmental disabilities will have an opportunity to learn more about what they and their child can do to better interact with law enforcement and EMS.

"On the flipside, law enforcement and EMS will learn more about children living with intellectual or developmental disabilities and what they can do to interact better. The Saturday event will provide the platform for all parties to practice what they have learned in a family-friendly, safe environment," he said.

The need to increase communication between the two groups was identified through the department's work with Safe Kids Yuma County, a coalition of the department with other local agencies to address issues including car seat, water, fire, ATV and bicycle safety.

Two-hour courses in English and Spanish, on Tuesday and Wednesday, will use a computer modeling tool to help children and young adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities how to interact with law enforcement.

The software will help them to understand important safety concepts, relate personally to the information, develop personal safety skills and meet individual goals.

On Thursday, a three-hour course for firefighters and Emergency Medical Service personnel featuring Chandler Police Investigative Specialist Nancy Martinez will cover topics relevant to them. These will include co-existing conditions, the difficulties those with the disorders can have sensing danger and staying safe, communication and signs to look for when no disclosure is made.

Finally, the Saturday Community Safety Event will bring the two groups together to learn from one another and put their skills into practice.

A grant from the Arizona Western Region Healthcare Coalition is funding the free events, Butcher said.

 
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