Cary EMS using stickers to help children with autism

CARY, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Cary Emergency Medical Services wants to improve the way it serves children who are autistic, and they're hoping new stickers will help do that.

The new stickers read "attention first responders - occupant has autism and may not respond to verbal commands."

They want parents of children with autism to pick up the stickers and place them somewhere first responders will notice - such as cars or on the door of a child's room.

"We've only got a short period of time to gain somebody's trust, Cary EMS Chief, Steven Cohen, said.

"And if there is nobody there that knows that the child has autism, then they'd be tucked away in a corner, and any loud noise - they'd probably cover their ears, or make some noises, or act out and become violent," Cohen added.

Sometimes the care is critical, so they train to help these patients by first calming them, then communicating with them through eye contact, writing or demonstration. But the challenge is identifying whether someone is on the spectrum in the first place.

It's why the Cary mother of a 14-year-old, boy has stickers on her car and in her home.

"I never want to take the chance that somebody will run across my son and have to deal with him in some sort of emergency situation, and not fully understand," said Leslie Welch.

Her son, Joshua Welch, is on the lower end of the spectrum, and does not speak, but she says the stickers are a good idea for higher-functioning children with autism as well.

"I just can't stress enough that identifying your child isn't always a thing you don't want to do," Welch said, "sometimes it's really necessary and otherwise you can have a much scarier situation."

Cary EMS is giving the stickers away for free, starting Monday. Families can pick up them up at the Cary EMS station at 107 Medcon Court, or from any of their ambulances not working an active scene.

You can also call them at (919) 380-6909 for more information.

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