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AAoM integrates the ICE4Autism mobile app into First Responder Safety and Community and Family Safety Autism Training Programs.

Autism Alliance of Michigan (AAoM) and the ICE4Autism mobile app are joining forces to improve the quality of the inevitable interactions between the first responder and autism communities.

Recent research has highlighted the fact that individuals with autism are seven to 10 times more likely to be in contact with first responders than their peers. And, with an estimated 50,000 teens with autism transitioning into adulthood each year, the need for a better understanding of the needs of people with autism amongst law enforcement, emergency medical and fire personnel is becoming increasingly critical. Together, AAoM and ICE4Autism are addressing these needs by providing safety trainings, information and resources to both communities.

AAoM has enhanced its flagship First Responder and Community Autism Safety Training programs by integrating ICE4Autism — the only autism-specific in case of emergency mobile app – into its curriculum. The combination of AAoM’s quality autism safety training programs – endorsed by the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, MCOLES, Michigan Department of Community Health, Michigan Sheriff’s Association, and Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority – and the ease of use and practicality of the BEST of ICE-endorsed ICE4Autism mobile app, provides individuals with autism AND first responders with actionable information and tools for more productive and positive interactions.

“ICE4Autism could not have found a better organization to collaborate with,” said Wanda Refaely, founder of ICE4Autism. “The ICE4Autism app is rooted in the core belief that people of all abilities deserve to be treated with respect and acceptance. At the same time, we also appreciate that the unique nature of autism can make it extremely difficult for emergency personnel to know how to respond to each individual with whom they come into contact. The ability to convey person-specific needs, particularly in high-stress situations, bridges that challenging gap in communication, improves understanding and as a result, the overall quality of the interactions takes a giant leap forward,” she explained.

“The integration of ICE4Autism into our safety trainings is a way of providing both communities with innovative tools they can use on a routine basis after the training is over. The education part of the process provides first responders with vital information about autism, about knowing what to expect, and how to interact with the individuals with autism and their families that they come into contact with through their regular duties. Misconceptions about autism and miscommunication are serious concerns when officers interact with individuals with autism. So our first step in keeping the autism community safe is to educate first responders to really know how to help them,” explains Sgt. Scott Schuelke, Ret. Lansing Police Department and AAoM’s Autism Safety Specialist. Sgt. Schuelke has provided training on autism spectrum disorder, most common situations and best strategies for safe outcomes when the situation involves someone with autism spectrum or mental health disorder to over 12,000 individuals.

“For autism safety training to actually have an impact, both communities play critically important roles. The first responders need to draw on what they’ve learned in the trainings and implement those lessons in the real world when called upon to do so. And, the members of the autism community, including both the individuals on the spectrum themselves and their parents and caregivers, need to be prepared to inform first responders quickly and efficiently about their unique needs. It takes an honest collaboration and a willingness from both sides to affect real change and based on my experience, we are well on that road,” concluded Sgt. Schuelke.

About ICE4Autism:
ICE4Autism is the only autism specific in case of emergency mobile app. It stores vital information about a person with autism’s unique needs and sensitivities directly on their iPhone or iPad affording a practical and effective means of providing first responders with actionable information about themselves quickly and efficiently. ICE4Autism was developed in collaboration with people with autism for people with autism with a mindfulness to the fact that each person’s autism is as unique as the individual him/herself.

Join the collaborative movement of individuals with autism taking an active role in improving their quality of care and treatment: www.ICE4Autism.com or on the App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/app/ice4autism/id969601780?mt=8.

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