First responders learn best-practices related to helping people with autism

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- More than one hundred first responders had the opportunity to learn about how to best help in situations when dealing with someone on the autism spectrum.

The Autism and Law Enforcement Education Coalition (ALEC), hosted by the WV Autism Training Center at Marshall University and in partnership with the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center, Mountain State Educational Services Cooperative, WV Public Service Training, WV Office of Emergency Medical Services, and WV InfraGard Members Alliance offered the free training Monday.

In addition to learning how to recognize someone with autism it provided tools to help with communication and sensory issues. Some of that was shared by people who've been in the situations and know the best-practices.

"When an emergency happens, we stand back or let the people in the flashing lights do what they need to do, but I think folks with autism can't easily predict those things. They may have some social challenges that make understanding and carrying those things out difficult," Dr. Marc Ellison with the West Virginia Autism Training Center said.

On hand Monday to help with the training, Lt. Jimmy Donohoe of the Pensacola, Florida Police Department and Retired Captain Bill Cannata of the Westwood, Massachusetts Fire Department have been training first responders on how to better handle a call involving autism and related disabilities for 12 years, according to a news release.

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