Tulsa Fire Department Doing Their Part To Raise Autism Awareness

Friday, August 14th 2015, 11:01 pm
By: News On 6

The Tulsa Fire Department is joining with a local non-profit to help raise awareness about autism.

The campaign is called I'm A OK, and the initiative is giving parents of autistic kids peace of mind.

Stickers that say “A OK” are going on every Tulsa fire truck to let autistic kids and their parents know they are in safe hands with firefighters who have been trained to recognize their disability.

An “I’m A OK” t-shirt and lanyard help people recognize that 20-year-old Asher Ward is autistic, but many times it's not so obvious, according to Autism Center of Tulsa Resource Director Jennifer Miller.

"The most difficult thing, by far, is that it is an invisible disability, and when you go out in the community people don’t recognize that an individual has autism," she said.

Ward is very accomplished. He is a three-time Special Olympics gold medalist and was nominated for prom king at Jenks High School in 2013.

"I won. I was prom king, and danced with prom queen and everyone gathered around me in a circle," Ward said.

He thinks the Tulsa Fire Department showing their support with the stickers on their trucks and near station doors is a very good thing.

"I think it would help young kids," he said.

Miller founded the Autism Center of Tulsa after her son was diagnosed with autism. She said, often, autistic kids wander off and don't have a normal sense of fear.

It's something she worried about if she were ever in a car accident or fire and was knocked unconscious.

“I'd want them to recognize Josh. You can't put him on the side of the road he might run right into traffic. Even though he is 17 years old he's developmentally much young," Miller explained.

She teamed up with the Tulsa Fire Department to help train them on how to best help people or kids who are autistic while responding to emergencies.

"We may call in another truck and that's what their job is, to give that individual a quiet place to go and to sit down until all the chaos has been cleaned up all  around them," said Captain Stan May, Tulsa Fire Department.

Miller said it gives her and other parents peace of mind.

One of the first things firefighters will look for is an emblem on a t-shirt or bracelet that identifies a person as autistic.

If they don't have something like that on, firefighters are also trained to recognize certain behaviors.

You can find out more about the campaign and how to get "I'm A OK" gear here.

The I’m A OK campaign is going nation-wide soon and fire departments in Orlando and Seattle will also be joining in on the cause.