As an interested firedog, I find it fascinating that autistic people sometimes react more favorably to animals than to people. It shows that they have good taste. But I want to make sure readers know that I share my own thoughts in this post not in any way to make light of autism, but as a means of supporting those who deal with this very serious condition themselves or with people that they love.
Each April, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and Autism Speaks promote Autism awareness month. And though this is always an important event in the wellness community, this year is particularly poignant in light of updated Autism data recently released:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder affects one in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls).
- It is estimated that 70 million people are affected by Autism worldwide.
- Almost half (46%) of children identified with ASD had average or above average intellectual ability (IQ greater than 85).
- Boys were almost 5 times more likely to be identified with ASD than girls.
- Less than half (44%) of children identified with ASD were evaluated for developmental concerns by the time they were 3 years old.
- Dogs don’t get Autism. But there are Autism service dogs.
- Over the past few years, Autism has become an urgent public health priority that requires increasing global awareness, services and research.
Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, said. “As prevalence continues to rise, we are now calling on the international community to turn awareness into action by supporting comprehensive strategies that address the needs of those with Autism. Only through collaboration, can we make significant progress for our families, not just in the United States, but around the globe.”
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – Autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors.
World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 to shine a bright light on Autism as a growing global health crisis. WAAD activities increase and develop world knowledge of the Autism crisis and impart information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of persons with Autism and is a day when individuals with Autism are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe. I wish my doghouse had electricity. I would have shone a blue light for Autism Awareness.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading Autism science and advocacy organization, which is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for Autism; increasing awareness of Autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with Autism and their families.
Founded in 2005 by the grandparents of a child with Autism, Autism Speaks has committed nearly $200 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. That’s a lot of money! Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. That’s a lot of walking. I approve! On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships in more than 40 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness.
RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services: Throughout the year, our training service offers an informational worksheet detailing the most effective way to deal with people who have Autism, in the event of an emergency.
- Emergency preparedness instructions help family members as well as friends and first responders remember the proper methods for helping Autistic people, since those who care for people with Autism, or are in close contact with an autistic person, must take special precautions before, during and after any emergency.
- What’s more, RJWestmore has a contact form for Autism Risk & Safety Management. Completing the form in advance equips first-responders with the information they need to properly assist people who have Autism.
Also, the RJWestmore Training System offers an informational PDF which is automatically sent to users who adds themselves to the Special Assistance List. The document is meant for anyone who identifies him or herself as having “any condition, temporary or permanent, that hinders or impedes the individual or others from safely evacuating.”
These individuals are encouraged to register and notify their company, the office of the building/Fire Safety Director and their Fire/Floor Warden. They are also reminded to follow specific emergency action plan manual instructions and participate in all drills. All of these resources are provided for the safety of the affected individual as well as those in his or her community. You got to hand it to the folks at Universal. They think of everything.
Since Autistic people have unique needs associated with emergency preparedness and disaster response, here are a few tips for Families Affected by Autism
- Stay calm
Project a demeanor of calm during a disaster or emergency, even if doing so is difficult. Children and adults on the spectrum may sense an agitated emotional state and mimic it. Practice and prepare to project a sense of calm.
- Prepare for immediate needs before disaster (This is always a good idea!)
Be ready to evacuate. Make plans for getting yourself and loved ones out of your home or building (ask family or friends for assistance, if necessary). Also, plan two evacuation routes in case evacuation routes are closed or blocked.
- Create a self-help network of relatives, friends or co-workers to assist in an emergency.
If you think you may need assistance in a disaster, discuss your needs with relatives, friends, and co-workers and ask for their help.
- Give a key to a neighbor or friend who may be able to assist in a disaster.
Contact local emergency information personnel long before disaster strikes. Many local emergency management offices maintain registers of people with disabilities so they can be located and assisted quickly in a disaster.
- Wear a medical alert tag or bracelet to identify your disability may help in case of an emergency.
- If you have a severe speech, language, or hearing disability:
- When you dial 911, tap space bar to indicate TDD call.
- Store a writing pad and pencils to communicate with others.
- Keep a flashlight handy to signal whereabouts to other people and for illumination to aid in communication.
- Remind friends that you cannot completely hear warnings or emergency instructions. Ask them to be your source of emergency information as it comes over their radio.
- If you have a hearing ear dog, be aware that the dog may become confused or disoriented in an emergency. Store extra food, water and supplies for your dog. This, too, is always a good idea.
When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for severe weather is to be aware. Our system is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.