Hurricane Preparedness Kits for Families with Autistic Children
Hurricane season is well in process, and a support group for autistic children is learning from the past to better prepare and keep their children safe.
The Calhoun County Parents of Autistic Children Support Group (P.A.C) is composed of dozens of families. These parents are preparing for a scary event like a hurricane.
Stacey DeForest, mother of Gage, a 19 year old on the autistic spectrum recalls the moments lived through hurricane Harvey.
“I’ll never forget, they were just pacing around the condo, it was full of smoke, and we couldn’t evacuate because the wind was so high, there was no way we could even evacuate that area,” recalls Stacey, “especially for Gage, it’s like post traumatic stress- you’ve got to help them get through that. And every time they hear ‘hurricane’, he gets nervous and paces, because it was very traumatic”
Lights, loud sound and out of routine occurrences all make autistic children react differently- the solution? Prepare for the unexpected.
“We want to give them the tools and resources to prepare, at the same time we want them to register their children with our special needs database- for not just hurricanes but for any kind of emergency” says Jessica Witt, president of P.A.C.
Kits with things like bubbles, sensory toys and calming scents all help in stressful situations. With the help of local and national donors, these moms put together over 50 kits over the past year.
Taking an extra step to register autistic children to local law enforcement is key.
“That way when an emergency vehicle has to come to the home, they know that an individual with autism lives in the home and they know how to approach the situation before hand” adds Jessica.
At the moment, these kits serve for families only in Calhoun County, however P.A.C. plans to expand in hopes of reaching as many families in the Crossroads area.