Autism Society, MCMHB offer workshop for regions first responders

View Calendar

Autism Society, MCMHB offer workshop for regions first responders

Mahoning Valley first responders to be trained to better serve those with autism

 Youngstown— Autism is one of the fastest growing disabilities in the world and it is not going away. New statistics show that at least a million children and adults have a diagnosis of autism or a related disorder. Statistics show 1 out of every 55 children in the U.S. is born with some level of autism– up 78% in the past decade.

If community service workers are not aware of this disorder and the vast spectrum of symptoms it encompasses, they will not be ready to handle an emergency effectively. Individuals with autism are so unique and their actions so unpredictable that it’s not only for their safety, but the firefighter, police or EMTs as well. If you walked into a fire and went to grab the individual, and he or she acted out not in fear of you, but in fear of being touched, you can get hurt as a result. That kind of simple uneducated or untrained mistake can result in the loss of the community servant or the individual.

First responders in the Mahoning Valley are being offered training designed to better equip them in an emergency situation as they work to meet the needs of those with autism.  In conjunction with the state affiliates of the Autism Society of America, the Autism Society of Mahoning Valley is partnering with the Mahoning County Mental Health Board to host a AUTISM INTERACTION TRAINING on Tuesday October 16, 2018 from 9 am – 2 pm at Four Mile Run Christian Church, 701 North Four Mile Run Road, Youngstown, OH.  Cost for the daylong workshop is $20 per person. Continental breakfast and lunch is provided. Scholarships are available via the county Mental Health & Recovery Boards. Workshops have been approved for Advanced CIT Training. Online registration is available HERE

Participants might include police, fire, emergency medical technicians, hospital emergency room staff and paramedics as well as 911 dispatchers and counselors.  All will learn how to respond to emergencies involving individuals with autism. It will provide information on how to recognize an individual with autism and discuss how specific incidents should be handled. The focus will be on providing useful tools for agencies to address field contact situations, communication and behavior, sensory issues, de-escalation techniques and detaining/arresting/restraining and custody issues.

“It is our mission to serve families living with autism. One way we are doing that is working with those who work with our people,” said Robin Suzelis, ASMV Board President. “This program will help to make sure that families in the entire tricounty region receive the most compassion response from community service providers since they are now more aware of a child or adult’s special needs. We are thrilled about the opportunity for collaboration.”

The course will be taught by industry professionals Fire Captain Bill Cannata and Police Sargent Jimmy Donohoe Leaders of the Autism Society’s Safe and Sound initiative, their almost 50 years of service to the communities is combined with years of experience presenting autism-related training sessions. Together they have created a nationwide program that will prepare participants to  help individuals and families living with autism spectrum disorder.

“Courses like this are critical to our emergency services personnel,” said Duane Piccirilli, Executive Director  of the Mahoning County Mental Health Board.   “We want Mahoning Valley’s first responders to be able to recognize and anticipate the unique aspects of interacting with members of our community. Joint training such as this, increases our awareness and comfort level when providing care during emergency responses.”  This training is the considered advanced crisis intervention training (CIT) for the already 170+ officers that have completed the initial 40-hour course held annually by the MCMHB.

The training is just the beginning of some communities’ efforts to better serve those with autism. Nationwide, some 911 call centers give residents the option of placing a flag on their address, alerting responders of someone with autism at the home and may be unaware of danger, oversensitive or unresponsive. That has not been adopted in the Youngstown region.

For more information call Autism Society of Mahoning Valley 330-333-9609

 Autism Society of Mahoning Valley was founded by local families in 1989 to supporting families in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. The local chapter of the Autism Society of America, its mission is to improve the quality of life for families living with an ASD diagnosis and to bring about community change and opportunities for individuals working through life with this disability.  Our volunteers are dedicated to accomplishing this through information and referral, family support, advocacy, professional development, raising awareness and resource development.  All funds received locally stay local to serve our families in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana Counties. For additional information on ASMV, please visit

 Funded in part with the support of:

Mahoning County Mental Health & Recovery Board
Trumbull County Mental Health & Recovery Board
Columbiana County Mental Health & Recovery Board
Potential Development Program
The Rich Center for Autism

 As well as
Columbiana Chrysler Jeep Dodge & RAM Trucks & Greenwood Chevrolet of Austintown

Related upcoming events

  • 2018-12-09 09:00 - 2018-12-09 11:00

    Online Registration will be available Fall 2018