First-of-its-kind nationwide program launched to help those with autism to communicate effectively in an emergency
April 10, 2018 (Toronto, ON) – Autism Canada and MedicAlert Foundation Canada have partnered to create the MedicAlert Autism Program, designed specifically to support Canadians on the autism spectrum.
Autism isn’t always recognizable to those who don’t know the signs, and this can make those on the spectrum particularly vulnerable in an emergency situation, especially when communication is hindered or not possible. The MedicAlert Autism Program is the only nationwide program designed to be a voice for autistics who find themselves unable to communicate effectively in these situations.
The program is unique in that the MedicAlert subscriber profile includes information about the person’s routines, anxiety triggers and de-escalation techniques – all can be accessible to emergency responders within seconds – so emergency responders can make better decisions to help the person at time of need.
“We are very pleased to be partnering with Autism Canada so that the autism community can be better served,” says Robert Ridge, President & CEO of MedicAlert Foundation Canada. “Capturing and communicating this critical information is invaluable for emergency responders and will change their ability to quickly assist people with autism and help save lives.”
In addition, emergency responders and police will be trained to, at-a-glance, recognize a situation involving an autistic individual because of the unique blue and red emblem created specifically for the MedicAlert Autism Program.
“Regardless of the subscriber’s age or where they fall on the spectrum, this program will be vital to supporting autistics in an emergency situation,” says Dermot Cleary, Autism Canada Board Chair. “The uniquely colored emblem will become an instantly recognizable symbol for autism among emergency responders and will help give a voice to those with autism when they need it most.”
Dr. Yona Lunsky, Senior Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), whose research has focused on crises and emergencies in the autism community, says “We need a simple mechanism, like this program, that we can make widely available that alerts others in an emergency to the needs of somebody who, under stress, has difficulties communicating their needs. The first step is flagging these needs and the next step is responding accordingly, using this additional information to adapt emergency responses.”
To learn more about the MedicAlert Autism Program, please visit medicalert.ca/autism.
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