OSCODA – Clients, Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) and others from Autism Systems paid a visit to the Oscoda Township Police and Fire Departments on Tuesday, April 27, for Autism Safety Day.
The group was joined by Oscoda Township Police Department Community Resource Officer Danny Gallahar who gave them a tour and answered questions along the way. During the field trip, Gallahar showed visitors the ins and out of fire trucks and police cars. He even let a few participants beep horns and turn on lights.
According to Center Director/RBT Amy Faszczewski, one of the reasons the safety event took place was to allow the clients and the departments to meet in a controlled environment that would be sensory friendly.
“This is very important, as many of our clients have sensory issues and limited verbal communication skills. We wanted the kids to see the police and firefighters as a safe person that is there to help,” said Faszczewski. “We believe exposing them to the fire trucks and police cars in a non-emergency situation will help them be better prepared if an actual emergency happens to them.”
Additionally, she said this was important for the safety of the children if members of local law enforcement come in contact with an autistic child in the future.
“If in the future they encounter any of the kids they would know that they are on the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and may not respond the same as atypical individuals would to commands or situations,” said Faszczewski.
She also said it was important to expose clients to new environments explain to them that police officers and firefighters are safe people that are there to help them.
“Any time we can expose our clients to new environments or experiences it enriches their lives and provides a learning experience,” said Faszczewski. Many of the clients have never been introduced to a police officer or firefighter and this allowed them to get hands-on with the equipment in a non-threatening, calm manner.”
She said the reason for the safety day partially came from the clients interest, but also for the aforementioned reasons.
“We take the clients on walks past the fire and police department often and their excitement about seeing the vehicles was part of the reason for the event. The other part was our desire to get our clients familiar with law enforcement and vice versa,” said Faszczewski. “We wanted to educate our clients on safety and what the police officers and firefighters jobs entail.”
She said her hope is to make the field trip a biyearly event. One day designed for just the clients and another for families in the area that have children with ASD.
“We hope to work with both departments in the future to educate them about ASD and possibly develop a registry of sorts for the individuals in the community that have Autism.,” said Faszczewski.
The mission of Autism Systems is to support children young adults and their families in achieving their full potential through assessment, education and therapy. According to Faszczewski, the center uses Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to provide a way for children to integrate with the rest of the world and get a fair start on the journey of life.
Overall, the goal of the ABA is to help children establish socially important behaviors including academic, social, communication and everyday living skills to experience levels of independence and quality of life.
Autism Systems is located at 400 State St, Oscoda. For more information contact staff at 401-2244.