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First-of-its-kind nationwide program launched to help those with autism to communicate effectively in an emergency

Autism Canada and MedicAlert Foundation Canada team up to launch MedicAlert Autism Program

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.

News

Autism Canada releases comprehensive new report on Aging and Autism. Toronto, April 4, 2018: Autism Canada is pleased to release a comprehensive report today on aging and autism.

One in 66 Canadian children and youth are on the autism spectrum. March 29, 2018: New data underscores the urgent need for services and a synchronized national strategy.

Equitable access to tax fairness for Canada’s autism community. February 1, 2018: Autism Canada is calling on the federal government to take action on the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), including the creation of a clear, transparent and informed application, review and appeal process.

Autism Canada calls for greater equity and transparency in Disability Tax Credit procedures. November 30, 2017: Autism Canada is calling on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to apply the existing criteria for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) equally, consistently and transparently across the board for all applications.

Senators request a meeting with the Prime Minister and Minister of Health on Autism. Senate of Canada, November 1, 2017: Open letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health.

Autism Canada rejects Canadian Autism Partnership Project. June 27, 2017: National advocacy organization calls for an actionable plan that provides equitable access to evidence-based treatments for all Canadians. [en français]

National Autism Organizations Unite. October 5, 2015: Canada’s large and growing autism population has lacked a strong united national voice for many years. [en français]

Publications

Summary Report – Aging and Autism: A Think Tank Round Table. October 2017: Autism in Later Life: A Think Tank on the Effects of Aging on the Autism Spectrum.

Submission to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, February 1, 2018: Equitable Access to Tax Fairness for the Autism Community.

Autism Canada supports the Liberal Party of Canada’s resolution on evidence based early intervention for individuals living with autism spectrum disorders. November 4, 2016.

Five things journalists should keep in mind when writing about autism. October 14, 2016: Media stories that get it wrong can contribute to how others perceive those with autism – and even perpetuate potentially dangerous stereotypes.

Why universal screening for autism is a good idea. April 23, 2016: We don’t want to see Canadian children reaching school age before being identified as having autism. But that is precisely what is happening too often already.