Being a mama changes you. Being a mama of a child with additional needs changes you even more.
As an Autism Mama, I’ve had to have conversations that I never wished to have. I’ve had to think thoughts of situations that I pray never occur. I’ve had to put plans in place for the worst-case scenarios all while hoping it will never happen.
People have told me they don’t know how I do it or they could never do it. The reality is that it is tiring and exhausting, but you don’t really have a choice. You just do wherever you must and make life work. You fight the fight and rely on those within your circle that support you. It isn’t always easy, and it won’t always be perfect.
I continue to reminder myself that we are given the lives we live for reason. I attempt to do some good with the experiences we have been given so that it can impact the future of those like us.
In January of this year, I reached out to my local police department to see if there was any way to notify them and keep on record an indication of my son’s diagnosis. My thought was that if there was an emergency, it would be great for our town municipalities to know about my boy. It would help the first responders and it would help my son.
I had seen and heard of other programs throughout the country and hoped that our town had something similar. Sadly, they did not. However, our police department was open, willing to learn and develop something. After months of research, collaboration with my son’s providers, and ongoing communication with the police department LINKED – Autism Safety Project was born!
LINKED is a community partnership with local municipalities that was created to provide a linkage between first responders and members of the Autism community to better support one another. It is important for municipalities and individuals of the Autism community to have as much knowledge as possible to best understand each other.
LINKED consists of a voluntary registration form with our local police department, a family emergency planning folder, and sensory packs. I was grateful to be able to work with members of our school district to develop social stories to support meaningful information sharing and with The Autism Helper to create an Emergency Picture Exchange Communication Tool to establish dialogue in an emergency. Collectively, each aspect of LINKED was created out of passion, drive, and commitment to support both the Autism community and the municipalities providing care. I am beyond grateful these collaborators trusted me enough to work alongside me to help develop such an important project and partnership.
This past week, my local police department released LINKED- Autism Safety Program. I was filled with pride as we have received amazing feedback from our community and surrounding towns. I have had fellow Autism moms reach out sharing their gratitude for establishing something like this within our town. Over the next few months, the police department and I will be planning community days for our kiddos, roundtable discussions and trainings with officers. I am so appreciative of individuals willing to learn, collaborate and understand our community and how to best support it. That means more than anything and provides a bit more comfort to this Autism mama!
To learn more about LINKED- Autism Safety Project and all that we are doing, follow our journey!