First responders train to manage situations involving people with autism

Fox Valley Technical College sign

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) – Fox Valley Tech and Friends of Autism have partnered to better educate the public and authorities on handling situations involving people with autism.

Jim Jones, executive director of Friends of Autism, says people on the autism spectrum are more likely than the general public to have interactions with law enforcement and first responders.

He says Tuesday’s event was meant to teach everyone ways to recognize and de-escalate situations involving someone with autism, especially when it comes to communication.

“People on the autism spectrum are sometimes up to seven times more likely to have an interaction with police, fire, EMS than the general public,” Jones expounded, “and if the police, fire and first responders aren’t trained in that, the situation can unfortunately get out of hand. We are trying to train the public and these law enforcement and first responders in how to avoid that.”

The event was led by Dennis Debbaudt, an internationally-recognized expert on safety and risk management for people on the autism spectrum.