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Thursday, January 23, 2020

First Responders and Autistic People

Heather Jordan at MLive:
A local initiative to provide first responders with autism sensory kits designed to soothe children with autism spectrum disorder and other special needs during emergency situations is growing.
Last month, emergency personnel with five Saginaw-area departments received the new “Carter Kits” during a press conference at Saginaw Fire Department Station No. 1, 801 Federal Ave. The event was attended by 5-year-old Carter Severs, who has autism spectrum disorder and for whom the kits are named, his parents, Justin Severs, a Saginaw Township police detective, and Kelley Severs, their friend Andrew Keller, an area Realtor who donated the first 10 kits, Saginaw firefighter Brandon Hausbeck, and others involved in the effort.

Carter Kits contain noise-canceling ear muffs, sunglasses, a weighted blanket, sensory toys and fidget devices. Now, thanks to a donation of more than $10,000 from the 100+ Women Who care-Mid Michigan membership, the program is expanding, Keller said. The donation will fund 200 to 250 more kits for use locally, according to a post on the Carter Kits - Autism Sensory Bags Facebook page.
Alfred Branch at Darien Patch:
Members of the Darien Police Department are now looking for the "Blue Envelope" when they pull over motorists during traffic stops. The special envelopes are part of a statewide program, supported by the Connecticut Police Chief's Association, Department of Motor Vehicles, and Autism Advocacy groups, that seeks to improve interactions between police officers and people on the autism spectrum.

"Traffic stops can be stressful for anyone, but are exceptionally so for those identified as autistic," said Darien police officials in a statement. "To help improve the encounter, participants will keep their vehicle information in the new blue colored envelope. When the individual is pulled over and retrieves their registration at an officer's request, it will be immediately apparent to the officer that the individual is on the autism spectrum."

The blue envelope is a clear indication to the officer that the individual may not react in a way that he or she is used to, which has the potential for miscommunication, according to officials. It also allows for the individual to have some idea of what may happen during the stop, as uncertainty is a particular challenge for those with autism. On the envelope are tips for both the driver and officer on how best to navigate a traffic stop.