Last week near this time, the event, the first ever held by our county behavioral health office in correlation of Autism Awareness Month for our county and as an individual involved in many facets of the behavioral health office was on the committee for the event.
The role of my mother and I at that event was to promote our state’s Yellow Dot Program and display the proclamation that I accepted with a family member with lived experience for Autism Awareness Month. It was displayed at the table I was stationed at. While there, I also learned about many programs that the public service agencies have in our county that are evolving and I was not aware of.
Besides me explaining the Yellow Dot to those in attendance, there was a representative from the local Emergency Management Agency’s 911 Department. She had the usual handouts for emergency preparedness but it was discovered in our committee meetings that there is an online tool that can be linked to your cell phone to make the communications center and responders aware of needs you may have.
This tool, just like any online portal can have notes that you want those in charge of sending those in need to you with the knowledge they need to best care for your situation. Also included was the ability to provide some demographics such as allergies, date of birth, emergency contacts, etc. I was glad to notice that the tool was gender inclusive which can be an added bonus for identification purposes
Also on hand was our local Crisis Intervention Team (C.I.T.) They come from law enforcement agencies across all levels across the county and are trained off of a curriculum developed in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1980s that provides 40 hours of specific instruction on de-escalation of those experiencing a mental health episode and aid them in seeking the necessary mental health treatment they need. These officers were available to meet with families if they needed to and explain what their line of work entails.
Our local sheriff’s department, while more on a role in our county of court based matters, distributed adhesive stickers in the shape of a yellow diamond that said “Person may be autistic, may not respond to verbal commands.” Also included was the neurodiversity symbol which I felt was a nice alternative to those who may not prefer the puzzle piece elements that are available online.
Outside in the parking lot were a few fire engines, the state police and their communications officer, the local EMS, and the search and rescue team. These entities were staged in order to familiarize autistic individuals with the various branches of emergency responders and no lights or sirens were utilized in order to not overstimulate anyone. Our local behavioral health managed care organization was there and information was provided to individuals on proper prescription drug disposal as this weekend the national day for doing so occurs..
All in all, it was a very educational and informative event and many seemed interested in the initiatives that are intended to aid autistic individuals and their families in their time of need. I have many resources on this website including Emergency Preparedness asd Police and Law information with many resources.