Thursday, June 07, 2012
I am writing to extend my appreciation for your story titled, "Massachusetts Emergency Workers Learn to Recognize Autismâ€ (Boston.com, May 27, 2012), and commend you for raising awareness about an important issue for individuals with autism and their caregivers.
Teaching first responders about autism and the complexities involved in interacting with individuals with social and communication delays is an incredibly worthwhile effort, especially given the tragic events taking place across the nation. State-wide training programs, like the one offered by the Autism and Law Enforcement Education Coalition (ALEC), can go a long way toward curtailing unnecessary deaths and grief caused by a lack of knowledge about how to interact with individuals with autism.
Thank you for highlighting these sad personal experiences, sharing information about the startling prevalence rates recently reported by the CDC, and providing details about ALEC. The gentle manner with which you approached a sensitive topic and the information you provided may help to promote similar programs in other states. I hope data about the effectiveness of these state-wide training programs will be available in the near future. This will allow us to evaluate whether adjustments to the training are necessary to promote beneficial outcomes.
With much appreciation,
Florence D. DiGennaro Reed, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Secretary, Association for Science in Autism Treatment