WFAA hosts autism training for first responders

WFAA hosts autism training for first responders

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Firefighters, police officers, and even dispatchers across Texoma learned on Thursday how to prepare for interactions and emergencies with people with autism spectrum disorders.

The free three-hour long training session put on by the Wichita Falls Autism Awareness was led by the director of the Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research at Texas Tech University, Dr. Wes Dotson.

"There are more people with autism in Texas than ever before," said Dr. Dotson. "There are 63,000 people with autism in Texas public schools right now and people with autism are three or two times more likely to interact with members of law enforcement and first responders community than anyone else."

They learned the characteristic behaviors of people with ASD and challenges for them.

Paul and his mother, Heather Culver were there, but not as first responders.

"Just to help them out with the role-playing and stuff like that and be able to ask them questions or ask me questions," said Heather.

Her son, Paul has autism and he was there to share his voice and perspective.

"I feel like it was a good way to bring them together to just learn about what it means to have ASD," said Paul.

Heather is excited the course is now being offered and first responders are participating.

She believes the training will benefit both of them in the long run

"Not only for their safety when an officer approaches them but for an officer too," said Heather. "It's going to make their job easier if they know how to respond to them. "To listen to what they told them it helps me to teach him {Paul} how to respond to them too so I think its really good."

Spots for Friday's session are still available.

The training takes place at the Work Services Corp. The morning session is 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and the afternoon session is 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

To sign up, you’re asked to email them at wfawareness@aol.com

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