Today, on their blog, Autism Speaks posted this open article to First Responders:
7 Things People With Autism Want First Responders to Know. The tips were written by individuals on the spectrum and included some great advice.
As a police officer, a proud Autism Dad, and staunch Autism advocate, here are 7 things First Responders want people with Autism to know:
-We are the good guys. We are here to help you and your family. We may have a lot to learn about Autism and individuals on the spectrum, but please never doubt our intentions and our main purpose: to protect you.
-Be an ambassador for your community. Introduce yourself to us and teach us about Autism. You have no idea how many other people you are helping.
-Our emergency lights, portable radios, and sirens get annoying for us too. If they are causing anxiety for you, please tell us. As long as it doesn’t reduce our safety, we may be able to turn them down.
-Sometimes, bad guys mistake kindness for weakness. This sometimes forces us to be stern and authoritative when encountering someone we don’t know. You may perceive this as detached, or even mean when you first meet us. Be patient with us. When we realize you are not a threat, our demeanor will soften.
-Bad guys often lie to us about their intentions and their identity. We are naturally suspicious and these instincts help us protect you. We may ask you questions and request your identification. This may be insulting and make you anxious. Please know it is not personal.
-Your public disclosure of a diagnosis is a deeply personal matter. But, it will help everyone involved during an encounter with us if you can be open and proactive in explaining your personal challenges, anxiety triggers, and calming techniques.
-We are just people. We want to get through our shift, do a little good, and get home to our own families. We make mistakes, we sometimes say the wrong thing, we are not perfect. But–and this bears repeating– we are the good guys.