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By Angel Malone

CCC Journalism Program

BLACKWOOD – Autism Training for First Time Responders taught caretakers to be calm and speak simply in emergency situations on April 29.

In the event a child with autism is, for example, bullied or has run away, the best suggestion for handling the situation properly is to speak to the child in short simple sentences and be conscious of vocal fluctuation to keep the child and you calm, the workshop advised attendees.

Autism Training for First Time Responders, the fifth part of an autism series, was held in the Forum in the Connector Building on the Blackwood campus of Camden County College at 6:30 p.m. Parent and Professional Development Staff Trainer Michele Tyler led the workshop. Tyler works for the Statewide Parent and Advocacy Network.

“In the State of New Jersey we have more kids diagnosed with autism than any other state … It’s so important that situations are not escalated to a higher level because of lack of information,” Tyler said.

The workshop covered many important tips on how to react and treat autistic children in emergency situations. The highlights are:

  • Survey the situation first before jumping into action.
  • Sometimes the child does not know they are hurt due to high pain thresholds that many autism children possess, so be sure to examine the child and check for bleeding.
  • Try not to touch the child unless they are OK with being touched.
  • Move slowly and explain everything you are doing or about to do.
  • Speak slowly and simply and allow ample time for the child to process the information and respond.
  • Constant reassurance and praise put the child at ease.
  • Patience is vital in these situations.
  • Non-verbal doesn’t mean they’re not listening.
  • Bring pen and paper or allow the child to speak electronically, such as with a computer or iPad.

Tyler said the workshop was important. “Untrained responders get frustrated and don’t want to deal with the situation that they could have done better in if they had the information they needed,” Tyler stated.

Autism is a complex disorder that can affect people neurologically, by missing connections to the brain, and biologically, with poor digestive systems. Sensory skills, language skills and social skills are also affected. Usually, autism appears in the first three years and lasts throughout a person’s life.

New Jersey is the state with the fastest growing rate of persons with autism and ranks in the top five states. One in 54 children are diagnosed with autism in New Jersey and it is more common among boys.

For more information on autism, visit http://www.solvingthepuzzle.com.

The Autism for First Time Responders workshop takes place at Camden County College. By Angel Malone, CCC Journalism Program

The Autism Training for First Time Responders workshop takes place at Camden County College. By Angel Malone, CCC Journalism Program

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