Loudoun Co. program helps first responders help autistic children

WASHINGTON — A pilot program in two Loudoun County schools will help first responders deal with autistic children during behavioral crises.

Project Emergency Response will give families a way to easily provide critical information to law enforcement before they arrive at a scene. The program is offered through a partnership with Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and Loudoun County Public Schools.

“What we’re trying to do is work with the schools, students and the parents to make sure we have all the information that we need if their children suffers from Autism,” said Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman. “So when we get there, we know what works and what doesn’t.”

First responders will have access to pertinent information, such as how to identify the child, what sets the child off and what can calm the child down, on their computers.

The goal is to provide first responders with information that will help them better manage emergency situations and de-escalate or resolve the situation in the most peaceful way possible

Right now the program is only offered at Seneca Ridge Middle School and Dominion High School, both in Sterling. But the sheriff already wants to expand it.

“We (are working) with the schools to try to expand the program because I don’t see a down side to this. I only see a benefit to everybody,” said Chapman.

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