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Safety and Autism in Alaska

Project Lifesaver and the Alaska State Troopers


August 2016 the Alaska State Troopers contacted the Autism Society of Alaska about working together with Project Lifesaver. Project Lifesaver provides timely response to saving lives and reducing injury for adults and children who wander due to Alzheimer’s, autism, and other related conditions or disorders. Without the effective equipment of project lifesaver, searches typically take hours or days to find the missing person. According to Project Lifesaver when a person is wearing a bracelet with a small personal transmitter our trained Alaska State Troopers are able to provide a recovery time 95% faster than the current standard operations. 

The Project:
The scope of the Project Lifesaver partnership with the Autism Society and Alaska State Troopers is to match at risk families with tracking transmitter bracelets across Alaska. Alaska State Trooper Captain Ronald Wall and the Autism Society of Alaska's Executive Director Danielle Tessen have partnered to spearhead this program in part with the Alzheimer’s association and other participating agencies. The Autism Society of Alaska is dedicated to this program because we are on the forefront of hearing the impact wandering has on a family and we are committed to aligning at risk people with a plan. 


How it works

  • Project Lifesaver relies on proven radio technology and specially trained search and rescue responders.
  • Clients that are enrolled in the Project Lifesaver program wear a personalized wristband that has the appearance of a large watch.
  • When caregivers notify the Alaska State Troopers that a person is missing, they respond to the wanderer’s last known location and start searching with the mobile locator tracking system.
  • This equipment is used on foot, in cars and also by air providing maximum cover and capability for search efforts for several miles using the tracking equipment.

How to register
Contact Danielle Tessen at [email protected] to begin the registration process for a bracelet. 

Sponsorships
Each of the bracelets cost $350. By sponsoring bracelets you can give peace of mind to an at risk family, and possibly save the life of a person who is wandering in Alaska. 
$250: FRIEND OF ASA
$500: GOLD
$1,000: DIAMOND
$1500+ FULL SPECTRUM SPONSOR
Sponsorship Supports: Wristband, Tracking System Equipment, Training & Program

Donations are tax deductible.
Make checks out to: Autism Society of Alaska
Send donations to: 607 Old Steese Hwy, Suite B #285 Fairbanks, Alaska 99701

For more information on Project Lifesaver visit: http://www.projectlifesaver.org/

For more information on your Alaska State Troopers visit:  http://www.dps.state.ak.us/ast/ 

Crisis Intervention Training

Each Semester the Autism Society of Alaska’s Board President conducts a Crisis Intervention Training to the UAF Community and Technical College Law Enforcement Academy.


“This training is part of the Law Enforcement Academy’s ongoing effort to provide cultural awareness training with the goal that students will be able to assess a situation and perform a reasonable and appropriate response.”

Community and Technical College


The Autism Society of Alaska’s partnership with UAF CTC Law Enforcement is to inform the academy on what autism is, statistics about autism, identifying autism, and providing them with a variety of suggested responses when interacting with an individual on the spectrum. Through a training such as this, we at ASA can better equip the officers with de-escalation techniques for when they encounter an individual on the spectrum.


“Our goal of inclusive participation in all areas of life is being realized. As a result it is our responsibility to make as many education opportunities available to help ensure that these moments of interaction are positive, appropriate and as safe as possible for everyone.”

Brandy Raby, ASA Board Presiden

Be Safe and Safe and Sound Programs

Be Safe
In August 2014 we hosted an interactive screening of the movie Be Safe to discuss how to communicate and cooperate safely with police. The event was free to the public and we created an atmosphere for all to learn. We also partnered with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and our guest speaker Emily Iland to offer a summer credit on the Be Safe curriculum. For more information on this program vitst: http://emilyiland.com/be-safe-the-movie/

Safe and Sound

Throughout the country, children and adults with autism are living, going to school, working and enjoying recreational activities in their communities. The Autism Society began the Safe and Sound TM initiative in 2005 to provide much-needed resources on topics such as general safety, emergency preparedness and prevention, and risk management. Safe and Sound works to develop information and strategies to benefit individuals on the spectrum, their families and the professionals who work with them. Another significant aspect of Safe and Sound is to provide information and training to first responders — those who are first on the scene in an emergency situation.

Safe and Sound helps parents and professionals identify potential public safety or criminal/juvenile justice situations and provide possible solutions so individuals with autism and those who care for them can be prepared for, stay safe during and avoid these situations.

The Autism Society’s Safe and Sound initiative is a collaborative effort with several first response professionals including Bill Cannata, Jimmy Donohoeand Dennis Debbaudt. Dennis is a law enforcement trainer with more than 15 years of experience presenting autism-related training sessions. His book, Avoiding Unfortunate Situations, was the first resource to address the interactions between law enforcement professionals and people on the autism spectrum, and his training materials are in use by law enforcement agencies around the world.

Created by the Autism Society and safety expert Dennis Debbaudt as part of the Autism Society’s Safe and Sound Initiative, the Emergency Decal can be placed on your door or automobile window to alert first responders. A companion piece, the Personal Information Record, provides information to help primary caregivers be prepared in case of emergency and gives on-scene tips for emergency personnel. The Personal Information Record should be updated regularly and kept in a place where emergency responders can access it for relevant information. Click here to order the Emergency Decal.

As part of grant from the Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime, the Autism Society provides a series of fact sheets specifically for social workers, attorneys and judgesparamedics and emergency room staff and other first response professionals. The Autism Society is committed to using our resources and affiliate network to employ a multi-pronged approach for first response professionals, individuals on the spectrum, parents/caregivers and community providers.

Our vision is to improve the quality of life of individuals with ASD by ensuring their awareness and preparedness related to risk and safety and creating community supports to keep them safe.

Read the Autism Society’s statement on wandering.

Ten Things You Can Do Related to Safety — Starting Now

1)   Get to know your neighbors and those who make up your community (fire, police, grocers, etc.); be a resource so they understand ASD and your child in particular.

2)   Fill out a Personal ID Record (such as the one offered by the Autism Society) and make various copies to keep in key locations. Flag your address in the 911 system.

3)   Anticipate issues that could arise and contemplate solutions. When you need assistance, reach out to others in the autism community for ideas.

4)   Ensure the individual with ASD has an effective method of communication.

5)   Practice providing personal information — name, address, phone number — in an understandable manner in various situations.

6)   Have concrete, detailed and frequent conversations with your child about the rules (e.g. talking to strangers, staying in the yard or with caregivers, etc.)

7)   Talk with others about your concerns and rules. Establish a phone tree and action plan that can be engaged if the worst happens.

8)   Listen, watch and learn. Try to understand why your child does things, anticipate potential issues, and develop good solutions.

9)   Address issues such as bullying at school — ensure policies are in place and increase awareness of autism in the entire student population.

10) Stress water safety — it can mean the difference between life and death. Enroll your child in swimming lessons if he/she does not know how to swim.