We worry what will happen if our child with a disability has an emergency or even a “melt-down” in public. How will first responders react/interact with our children? Will they be able to communicate with them? Will they misunderstand the behaviors of our children? Will they see them as a threat? How can we help first responders know how to work with our kids?
It takes a community effort! In an emergency, knowing how to work with people with disabilities is critical. Children with intellectual or other disabilities may lack a sense of danger. It can be difficult to teach them safety rules. We must prepare our children how to work with first responders and other security professionals.
Call your local fire department and ask when you can bring your child for a visit. Help your child and the fire department staff get to know each other. See if a “Junior Deputy Academy” is offered in your area during the summer. This is a week-long free half-day camp for youngsters. The kids and law enforcement staff at the camp have a lot of fun while getting to know each other.
Training first responders to see signs of a mental health disorder, intellectual disability, autism or other medical condition is critical. Listed below are resources for training options and resources. Much of the information is appropriate for all disabilities.