Friday, September 12, 2008

ASA's Disaster Tips for Families Affected by Autism

Today I'm still remembering yesterday (Sept. 11th) and also thinking about all the lives in the Gulf Coast area that will soon be affected by Hurricane Ike. Autism Society of America just sent out a timely list of tips of how to handle both man-made and natural disasters. Most of these tips were written for everyone with a few extra instructions included for people with special needs. Below are the three major tips that are covered in the list. Please go to the link for more detailed explanations.

1. Practice Calm

2. Prepare in advance for immediate needs before a disaster strikes

3. Prepare in advance for immediate needs after a disaster strikes.

Here are some tips for adults or families who have extra challenges:

  1. Contact your local emergency information management office now. Many local emergency management offices maintain registers of people with disabilities so they can be located and assisted quickly in a disaster.
  2. Wearing a medical alert tag or bracelet to identify your [or your child's] disability may help in case of an emergency.
  3. Store a writing pad and pencils to communicate with others.
  4. Keep a flashlight handy to signal whereabouts to other people and for illumination to aid in communication.

My thoughts: Parents should remember to keep a photograph of each respective family member with them in case an unexpected separation occurs in the midst of chaos. Also, if possible it might be a good idea to beat the rush (to avoid getting stuck for hours in traffic) and evacuate before it is mandated if a disaster such as a hurricane is likely to strike.

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