Autism Awareness Day set for Sunday

Posted on Apr 21, 2022

Window stickers stating “Occupied with Special Needs” can alert police or other emergency responders that a person inside a home or car may not understand why the police officer is there, and react in a way that endangers everyone involved.

St. Clair Township Chief of Police Brian McKenzie said giving away these stickers is only one of the activities planned for the Second Annual Autism Awareness Day on Sunday at the Beaver Local High School Track, organized by the St. Clair Township Police and supported by a number of local sponsors. Fun and informative events are set for 2 to 5 p.m.

“Oftentimes we enter into situations unknowing of individuals with special needs being involved. The police officer may misunderstand why the person is not responding, or is responding in an agitated or aggressive way because of a disability such as autism,” McKenzie said. “The stickers give the emergency personnel a heads-up to be aware and respond appropriately.”

The free stickers may also be picked up at the St. Clair Police Station or at CCBDD offices in Lisbon.

The inaugural Autism Awareness Day last year helped to raise $4,557 that went toward purchase of special adaptive equipment for children with multiple disabilities at Beaver Local School District, McKenzie said.

At the April 24 event, participants are invited to take part in an autism walk on the track and learn more about autism. Children can play on several inflatables in a Sunshine Party Rental Fun Zone sponsored by the Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Event T-shirts for the event may be purchased, with all money raised going toward the multiple disabilities unit at Beaver Local School District.

Bill Devon, Disabilities Board superintendent, said the agency has begun work to create and maintain a database of clients and addresses in Columbiana County which would be accessible by safety forces.

“It would tell them what the person’s disability is, what actions might trigger a negative response, and what actions could be taken to calm them,” Devon said. He emphasized the database is in the early stages of development.

Herman Potts, administrative assistant to Chief McKenzie, is the contact person for information on Autism Awareness Day, window stickers, and related issues. He may be reached at 330.386.3585, extension 136, or by email at [email protected].

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