A year ago, a former law enforcement officer and mother of a child with autism started the Autism Law Enforcement Response Training (ALERT) program to help law enforcement and ther first responders learn how to respond to individuals on the autism spectrum during an emergency. Since then, the program has expanded to include fire and EMS, and it has trained personnel from 29 agencies in four states. To meet a need repeatedly brought up at these trainings, ALERT has developed an interactive communication app, Autism Talk.
Autism Talk is a picture symbol supported communication and interactive app which allows first responders to quickly communicate with and provide help to persons who are on the autism spectrum, has difficulty speaking, or has other conditions that make verbal communications difficult. Fifty percent of individuals on the autism spectrum are non-verbal and another 20% become non-verbal when the are scared, injured or stressed.
The app includes picture communication boards with categories for law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS/medical, as well as several other interactive features such as body models that allow you to tap and show a first responder where you are hurt or injured, a universal pain chart, and a police sketch tool that allows you to select a perpetrator’s facial features and body typet. The app is available for iOS and Android through their respective app stores and costs $8.99. One third of the app proceeds go to fund further ALERT training opportunities.
- Available in the GooglePlayStore at: Autism Talk- Communication Tool For 1st Responders
- Available in the Apple app store. Requires iOS 8.0 or higher.
Contact author Judy Shuck, Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Coordinator