Autism Speaks experts train first responders

5:06 PM, Mar 27, 2013   |    comments
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By Tracy Clemons

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - First responders in St. Louis got a lesson Wednesday in how to deal with the growing challenge of how to handle children with autism.

Experts from Autism Speaks took the lesson to six fire houses and will hit 34 in three days.

They talked about the specific challenges that come with rescuing a person on the autism spectrum, including their difficulty following verbal commands, and the high probability that they'll run after being rescued.

"We're coming across more situations where people have autism and it's important for us to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of those people," said Public Education Officer Captain Mike Killingsworth.

"After we did this training at the Valley Park Fire Department, we got a letter from them because they responded to a child with autism that was on the roof and they said they used some of the tactics that we taught them to get that child off the roof because his parents couldn't get him off," added Angie Dettemers with Autism Speaks. "So I know firsthand that it has helped."

Autism affects one in 88 children. That's up from one in 110 one year ago.


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