BRICK – Willow Springs donated sensory kits to police officers so that they can de-escalate an emergency involving an autistic person.
The kits contain objects that help subjects who are experiencing sensory overload, by giving them something to focus one of their senses on. This is known as “stimming.” In addition to the stimming objects each kit contains several “I have autism” and “My child has autism” cards that First Responders can hand out to autistic persons and parents of autistic children. The kits are made and sold by POAC Autism Services.
Police reported that in 2020, the department responded to at least 49 incidents involving a person with autism. So far this year, that number is at least 33.
There is a high percentage of special needs residents in Brick. Part of that is from an unofficial cluster many years ago. Part of that is because parents heard good things about the school district’s autism program so they moved to the area.
Brick police said that the officers are trained in autism awareness and best practices in responding to a person who might be having an emergency and is on the autism spectrum. In February, for example, all officers went through a half-day of training with POAC Director Gary Weitzen, who was also on hand when the kits were donated.
The kits will be placed on ambulances for the Brick Township Police EMS.
“Whatever we can do to serve the community, that’s what we’re looking to do. We’re really happy to help,” said Pam Montemurno, the Director of Hospital and Physician Relations for Willow Springs.
Chief James Riccio said, “We’re always glad to have partners to help us. Policing is a team effort and these kits are a great example of how everyone in a community can work together to benefit those with special needs.”