Recently, the Warrington Township Emergency Services team provided autism awareness training to Township police officers at Tamanend Middle School. Brian Focht and Lee Greenberg of the Township’s Department of Emergency Services provided the officers with information and guidance for how to interact with a person on the autism spectrum.
According to autismspeaks.org, one in 44 children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in the U.S., therefore, it is highly likely that while on duty a police officer will come in contact with someone on the autism spectrum. Since individuals with autism may have sensory issues and respond differently in crisis situations, police officers need to know how to take action effectively and safely in situations where they encounter a person who is on the autism spectrum.
In addition to receiving sensory training, the police officers were presented with Autism Sensory Kits for every patrol vehicle, courtesy of Warrington Rotary Club. The kits contain consist of story boards, ear and eye protection, and sensory toys and tools that can help calm an autistic person during a chaotic situation.
“We recognize the importance of training our police officers to be able to communicate effectively with adults and children of all abilities, said Lee Greenberg, Director of Emergency Services & Code Enforcement, Warrington Township. “We are grateful to Rotary Club of Warrington for donating Autism Sensory Kits that be used to help tocalm an autistic person on occasions when they come into contact with police officers.”
During their visit to Tamanend Middle School, the representatives from Warrington Department of Emergency Services also conducted a fire safety class for students with autism. In addition to learning fire safety tips, the students were treated to a demonstration of a firefighter putting on their personal protective equipment (PPE) and a tour of the Rescue 78 fire engine.
“This was a great opportunity for our students to connect with emergency service personnel and to experience first-hand how dedicated they are to ensuring the safety of everyone in our community,” said Tamanend Middle School Principal, Dr. Brian Caughie. “First-hand experiences like this one leave a lasting impression and impact on our students and staff.”
“Township officials are pleased that our Emergency Services personnel were able to educate Warrington Township police officers about how to respond when they encounter an individual with autism,” said Vanessa Maurer, Supervisor, Warrington Township. “Our Township’s Emergency Services and Police Departments strive to be progressive and forward thinking, as leaders and innovators in every area of operations, including education and training. We appreciate their efforts to put autistic students at ease in the company of first responders and we applaud their dedication to the people of our township.”
PHOTO CAP: Warrington Rotary Club President, Lou Altomari presents the Warrington Township Police Department with Autism Sensory Kits. Pictured from: Lt. Glen Gottenberg, Warrington Township Police Department; Lou Altomari, President, Warrington Rotary Club; Lee Greenberg, Director of Emergency Services, Warrington Township; Chief Daniel Friel, Warrington Township Police Department; and Officer Nate Coia, Warrington Township Police Department. Photo courtesy of Warrington Township.