ST. CHARLES, Mo. – Autism, also called autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a group of conditions that are characterized by issues with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.
When first responders are sent to a scene where a child with autism needs help, this can be hard for them to deal with. This is where The Synapsory, a non-profit group, comes in to help. Calming kits are being given to the St. Charles Police Department.
“The reason we started these calming kits is that I was pulled over for speeding, and when I was pulled over, my daughter, who has autism and cerebral palsy, went into a meltdown,” said Terrie Desloge, founder of The Synapsory. “I realized we needed help in situations that she doesn’t encounter every day.”
Sometimes, when children with autism are in situations where they have to interact with first responders, they might get overstimulated and sometimes tend to meltdown.
“Each item in the calming kit is designed to bring sensory regulation and calm to the child,” says Desloge in a press release. “We’ve had feedback from other police departments we’ve donated to who said this has helped them de-escalate situations.”
The kits include a collection of toys and other items—such as pop-it bubbles or soft lights that change colors—that are designed to soothe extreme behaviors sometimes caused by autism.
“When a police officer is called in to help, they need to be empowered with calming tools and tools that will calm a sensory system down,” said Desloge. “We wanted to be part of the solution and empower our police officers.”
The charity donated the calming kits to the St. Charles County Police Department today.
Sergeant Dan Asher, the Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team Coordinator, says every week, they work with kids who have autism or sensory problems. They depend on the parents to help them calm the child down because they know the kid best. But sometimes the parents call and say that their child is out of control, which is why the police are there.
“It gives us more confidence,” said Asher. “Having these tools will definitely help.”