During Dennis Debbaubt’s seminars for training law enforcement and emergency services personnel, the first thing he tells them about encountering an ASD individual in the field is to expect the unexpected. He teaches them about the various behaviors they might see, the communication difficulties they might encounter, and the best ways they might handle those situations. He discusses the sensory issues and anxieties that ASD individuals can have. He stresses that each ASD individual is exactly that - an individual. They are similar in some ways but by no means all alike.
And so, since we parents know how true that is, it’s up to us to use the tools that we know will help our individual children best. We have many resources available to us, but they do no good if we do not utilize them to prepare for emergency situations, not just react to them. With that in mind, I would like to remind you of the links for resources listed in Autism Safety & Risk Mangement, Part 2, including ASA’s Safe & Sound program, safety videos, MedicAlert bracelets, shoe tags, non-permanent tattoos, Project Lifesaver, and personal GPS tracking systems. In my previous post, I mentioned disclosure with neighbors, writing “social safety” teaching into your child’s IEP, and carrying a handout card. I discovered an excellent source for purchasing handout cards: AutismCards.com. They have numerous designs with different content, so you can look around and choose what would be most effective for your child. Most important, don’t forget to fill out and make copies of the Autism Emergency Information Form. All of these tools are valuable resources; we just need to decide what works best for our children and follow through with our risk and safety management.
Last on the list of resources - but certainly not least - is Dennis. Dennis Debbaubt’s seminars are invaluable for helping your local law enforcement and emergency services personnel learn about autism and how to interact with your ASD child. Unfortunately, in many cases Dennis is asked to come and give his presentations as a result of something that went wrong, such as a wandering autistic teen being tasered by police, or a child who wanders away from school and drowns. And then Dennis is summoned to present his special training seminars - one specifically designed for law enforcement personnel and first responders, and the other for parents, teachers, and caregivers. But we shouldn’t wait until something happens. For our children’s safety and our own peace of mind, we need to be proactive.
So - how do you get Dennis, you ask? Two of the best approaches you could take would be to a) contact your state or local chapter of the Autism Society of America, or b) to contact your local Education Service District. You can also see if the two agencies would be willing to split the cost to host Dennis. However you get him, he’s worth it. I admire Dennis so much for what he does, and I feel fortunate to have met him and learned from him. I can’t tell you how glad I am that he presented his seminars in my area. It is such a relief to know that those in my community who are out there safeguarding my son now have the tools to help him and understand him better. And I’m sure that they’re just as glad to have that knowledge.