Training course addresses Autism Awareness

Published 3:48 pm Friday, April 25, 2014

Jefferson State Community College in Clanton hosted a training course on Thursday for Autism Awareness.

Roughly 30 individuals attended the class from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. that covered topics for emergency responders who may respond to or interact with individuals who have autism.

Clanton Police Officer David Hicks taught the course, which covered topics: what is autism, how big is the issue, the autism spectrum, challengers for emergency responders, issues specific to law enforcement, firefighters, EMS, corrections officers, dispatchers and more.

Hicks said autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States, and the month of April is an opportunity to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community.

Puzzle pieces serve as the symbol for autism awareness due to the complexity and mystery of autism.

“Research estimates that people with Autism Spectrum Disorders will have seven times more contact with emergency responders than the rest of the members of the general population,” Hicks said. “There is still so much we don’t know.”

Autism is a neurological anomaly that precludes the body from properly receiving signals transmitted by the brain, according to information provided in the training.

Brain function is affected, interfering with reasoning, communication and social interaction.

Autism might initially appear as mental retardation or attention deficit disorders in children, but adults could seek medical help for issues such as anxiety or depression.

Although autism is a brain development disorder, individuals with ASD often excel in visual skills, math, music and art.

“Individuals with autism excel in jobs that require intense attention to detail, single-minded focus and willingness to work on something repetitively until perfect,” Hicks said.

There are four times as many boys with autism than girls (one out of 54 boys are diagnosed compared to one in 252 girls).