When I meet new people with Peter, I almost always let them know that he has an autistic spectrum disorder. I do it so they will consider taking the extra moment to see the real Peter rather than his “symptoms.” Often when people know why Peter is not giving eye contact, or is hesitant about talking, they give him a chance to get acclimated.
That gives Peter time to meet someone new and test out his social skills and often lets someone new in on Peter’s humor and kindness. The other day, though, I realized I had forgotten to tell some very important people that Peter has an autistic spectrum disorder, our neighborhood’s first responders.
My sister and aunt both saw a segment on the Today show. The first responder talked about how important it is to let first responders, such as police, fire, and emergency workers, know that a child with a spectrum disorder lives in your home. How had I missed that one?
Many people say they are surprised at their reactions during an emergency. Some who think they will panic, become calm, cool and collected. Others that are always in control are shocked that in an emergency they are not.
A child like Peter has even more challenges during an emergency. First responders need to know they should deal with him quietly and cautiously. Peter may be separated from the people that know him best. He may be encountering new people who want to help him, but do not understand why he is running the opposite way or covering his ears.
I will be contacting my first responders next week to be sure they know about Peter. A little fact like that could be key to keeping him safe during an emergency. First responders will know to take that extra moment and really help him.