If you read my blog, you are probably aware that I have a strong interest in Asperger’s Sydrome: I am an Aspie, I am married to an Aspie, both my children are Aspies, most of my friends are, if not full-Aspies, at least ‘almost-Aspies.
Hence the interest.
While I like to explain that Asperger’s is to Autism like ‘wearing glasses’ is to ‘being blind’, it is an Autism spectrum disorder, there is some overlap (OK – I’d have to go on a tangent to explain this ‘right’: let it suffice (for here) that both Autism and Asperger’s have the same ‘thing’ which affects how the brain is wired ‘differently’, but the difference is that each affects a different bit of the brain….some people have a bit of ‘re-wiring’ in both areas – thus, the overlap). So, I am always paying attention when I hear about both…
So, I was quite interested when I heard that the Ottawa Police were doing some sort of a pilot project to do with interacting with members of our community who are Autistic or have Asperger’s Syndrome. Thanks go to my favourite Ottawa City Councillor, Eli El-Chantiry, for getting me in touch with the people running the pilot project.
This – in a nutshell – is what it is about…
When a call comes in to the ‘911’ emergency service, the operator pulls up the info on the address where the call is coming from:
- the address
- other relevant info (like the much reviled gun registry, and so on)
A person who looks after an Autie or an Aspie (or the Autie/Aspie themselves) can register in this program. When they do this, the ‘relevant information’ will include some information about the Autie/Aspie that lives there.
This can save lives!
The information can be, say, there is a small Autistic boy who fears loud noises. If there is a fire alarm, he is likely to hide under the bed or in the closet. Only answers to ‘Xxx’ nickname…. Touching him makes him panic.
Or, it can say something like ‘this is a group home for adult Auties. These are their names, this is how they react to being agitated,’ and so on.
Information is power.
When emergency responders are walking into a situation where they know they will encounter a person who is not fully functional – and, the stress of emergency situations does often push ‘partially functional’ people (especially kids) into a non-functional state – they will be able to do their job better.
This Autism Registry pilot program harnesses the power of information into better helping vulnerable people in emergency situations. Into saving live.
I liked what I learned about the program so much, I offered to help out as best I can. And, perhaps, there may be a tiny role I can play.
One way I – and you – can help is to ‘spread the word’!
If you know someone in the City of Ottawa who would benefit from registering – tell them.
If you live outside of Ottawa, tell your police department to check out this pilot project in Ottawa. The model is highly portable – perhaps your community would benefit from something similar!