Event First Aid: The Distraction Technique and Autism

32270_10150161038395184_1381207_nAs an auxiliary first responder who works first aid booths at community events like airshows, parades, road races, festivals and the like and an adult with Asperger’s, I have discovered some good techniques to aid me in my duties when I am providing first aid for a person and/or child with or without special needs such as Autism.

One technique I love to use is distraction. Distracting an individual helps to interrupt the neurological process that allows a person to feel and know what is happening to them at the current time. We all know when working in public safety we work in pairs for safety, camaraderie, and and other reasons. We are going to add another reason to work in pairs, especially when responding to an Autistic individual who needs medical attention. That reason is for one responder to provide treatment while the other distracts the injured individual with things such as conversation about the patient’s favorite subject, a toy such as a stuffed animal or metal slinky, or even blowing up a nitrile glove like a balloon and drawing on it. Remember that whatever items you use needs to be age appropriate and safe for the child.

Another situation I have encountered is lost individuals. When an individual such as a child or person with Autism, who sometimes cannot communicate or care for themselves, becomes separated from a family member they are usually brought to the first aid room which doubles as the lost and found room. This is so we as first responders can watch over and care for them until their caregiver is found and are reunited. This may take time so you need to have some ways to occupy an individual that may have Autism or similar issues. Some items you may want to keep are crayons and paper, Play-dough, coloring books, and a deck of cards. These items can be used as distraction until the individual is reunited with their family or caregiver. So to recap our new tools and items that we can use with the distraction technique are:

  • Conversation about patient’s favorite topic or obsession
  • Stuffed animal
  • Slinky
  • Crayons with paper
  • Coloring book
  • Play-dough
  • Deck of cards

I hope these tools and ideas will help you in your future response to an individual in need at an event or large gathering.

Austin is a certified and experienced Skywarn Storm Spotter, Ham radio operator, 11232116_10155647656030184_4068160658730913034_nCommunity Emergency Response Team Instructor.  He is currently pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice at Gwinnett Technical College and hopes to one day pursue an EMT certification and certification as a State of Georgia Emergency Manager. He brings a wealth of knowledge to Spirit of Autism with years of research and experience in emergency preparedness and as an adult with Autism.

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