ALEC: First Responder Training Program

first responders and autism

We recently posted about a program called BOLO (Bring Our Loved Ones home) from Delhi Township, Ohio. Since its start, it has proven to be an extremely helpful tool for police officers in locating and returning lost loved ones to … Continue reading

Arizona Governor Takes Stand Against Schools’ Mistreatment of Autistics

An expose of institutional mistreatment of autistics in schools across America has changed policy in one more state. Arizona Gov. Janice Brewer has signed a law restricting the use of “seclusion rooms,” euphemistically titled padded closets that students have been routinely confined in for nearly whole school days. The expose was featured in November as part of ABC News Investigation. The feature targeted other harsh restraint tactics such as electric shock and firm holds that have resulted in injury and, in a few cases, death of students. The shock and outrage of parents has echoed across the country after the death of Corey Foster, 16, an autistic boy who was being restrained for refusing to stop playing basketball. Proactive parents and autism advocates have taken video and photographs of “seclusion rooms,” “sensory bags,” and encounters with abusive school officials. Arizona’s new human rights law protecting children from abuse under the guise of discipline is similar to protection imposed in 30 other states. However, there is no federal guideline for school discipline practices and many state systems are unsupervised, leaving disabled children particularly vulnerable. At the core of this problem is a lack of understanding and awareness of autism spectrum disorders and other developmental and psychiatric disorders. Gov. Brewer of Arizona has taken a step toward preventing these violations saying, “Our goal must be to ensure Arizona children—especially those with special needs—are treated in a way that provides for both their safety and dignity.” Shema Kolainu—Hear Our Voices promotes inclusion in our community and worldwide. By fostering understanding and sharing evidence-based therapy and education practices, we can prevent this atrocious mistreatment of vulnerable people. To see the full expose, visit ABC News. Share your opinion below!


Autism Awareness Speaker Awakens Campus

Last Tuesday, expert Dr. Jane Thierfeld Brown (left) visited Union University to educate student, faculty, and staff on the autism spectrum. She gave information and advice vital to both faculty and students alike, ranging from the characteristics of those with autism to what it is like to be autistic.

For example, Brown described that those with autism are extremely sensitive to noise, movement, and light because they have increased sensory perception. They may be easily distracted, only be able to focus on one thing at a time, and are highly knowledgeable on certain topics, especially topics that interest them.

While students may have above average intelligence, they have different ways of learning and suffer when it comes to social situations and knowledge, or what Brown dubs “social dyslexia.” This ‘dyslexia,’ combined with the possible over stimulation of social situations, often leads them to withdraw and appear antisocial.

Director of Student Support Services Shelly Shinebarger says that though the special needs students she works are very bright, they need certain accommodations to “even the playing field.”

When it comes to classes and studies, she compares the help that those with autism need to the service eyeglasses provide. While wearing glasses doesn’t give the wearer an advantage to see more than what’s written on a piece of paper, it allows the wearer to see the writings as others would normally see it.

Taking tests in quiet location or with more time allows the students to fully process the information and ensure that they are doing what is required in the exam.

When students come to college, they lose the parental buffer they had their entire life that would explain and understand their condition and needs to others. When asked how Union students can help those who have Asperger’s Syndrome, Brown responded by saying, “Be open.”