Addressing Austism from an Emergency Personnel Perspective

ImageI just read a great article by a dad who works as an EMT for the Fire Department of New York. Last year, Avonte Oquendo, an Autistic boy of 14 from New York, disappeared from school. Just walked out the door, and has not been heard from since. What is so sad is that even if he is found, he wouldn’t be able to tell you what happened to him in the interim, because he is non-verbal. When a child on the spectrum disappears, the chances of harm to them are greater, due to their higher vulnerability.

I have two sons on the Autistic Spectrum, and this author has one too. If one of my boys went missing, I would want our Utah EMS people to be aware of the special needs of these kids, and consider them when putting together a search of this kind.  Not long ago, a boy also went missing in my valley. What brought it close to home for me was that this particular boy had the exact same name as my son, was the same age, and also has an ASD condition. Many of my friends and relatives mentioned that they had to double check to make sure it wasn’t my son being described in the news. Fortunately for the Utah family, their son was found safe and sound within 24 hours. Avonte and his family have yet to find relief. Please read this great intro article on ASD. The more of us who get educated on this, the better! Utah happens to have the largest ASD population in America. The chances that someone you know is suffering are high.

From the Officers Corner: Addressing Autism, by Lt. Richard Erdey

Published 11/26/13

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