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Commentary from May Institute and the National Autism Center Regarding Boston Globe Article: “Boston Special-Needs List Could Aid Emergency Crews”

Establishing a special-needs registry is an essential step in helping first responders effectively manage crises involving individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other special needs.

This initiative underscores the importance of families, communities, and emergency personnel working together to keep children and adults with special needs safe. In many instances, these individuals do not understand the danger they are in, and are unable to distinguish between a stranger and someone who is there to help. Because of their unique needs, these children and adults often communicate differently, and have heightened sensitivities to noise, smells, touch, and visuals that are unknown to them.

Putting critical information in the hands of first responders about effective ways to approach, communicate with, and calm a person with special needs can be life-saving in a crisis — be it a medical emergency, fire, or when someone has wandered from his or her home.

When first responders in the community and children and adults with special needs feel secure around each other, the odds of a positive outcome increase dramatically. We applaud Councilor Rob Consalvo and the Boston City Council for taking these critical steps toward keeping our most vulnerable citizens safe.

Lauren C. Solotar, Ph.D., ABPP
Chief Executive Officer
May Institute

Hanna C. Rue, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Executive Director
National Autism Center

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