UVA initiative helping first responders interact with autistic people during emergencies

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 10:36 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - An initiative out of the University of Virginia is working to train first responders on how to interact with and support autistic people during emergencies.

UVA’s Supporting Transformative Autism Research (STAR) came from collaborating with the community: It started in a focus groups, asking people with autism and their families what they needed to see.

The trainings started in January 2023, and pull from themes in the interviews and focus groups.

“They really want to emphasize how to effectively communicate with someone on the spectrum and their family, and leaning into caregivers as a resource if they’re available on the scene, because they’re typically the ones who know the person best,” Rose Nevill with STAR said.

The goal is to create a unified approach across all branches of emergency response.

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