Old Colony student works to help firefighters, people with autism

Nov 24, 2019

Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School Senior Drew Weaver is working to equip tri-town firefighters with “sensory kits” to better assist individuals with autism in emergency situations.

Weaver is a member of MMR Explorer Post 343, a local program that gives young people the training and experience needed to become firefighters.

After taking a class about the special considerations first responders should take when assisting individuals with autism, Weaver decided that he wanted to help the fire departments in Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester.

He is currently looking for donations on an Amazon Wish List for items that will help firefighters respond to emergencies involving people with autism.

Nonverbal individuals face additional challenges in emergency situations due to the difficulty they may have in expressing their needs and concerns. Because of this, Weaver plans to equip firefighters with cards, or even technological apps like TouchChat or iCommunicate that will help bridge the communication gap between first responders and those in need.

“I hope that these kits will help them communicate what could be wrong,” Weaver said.

Weaver explained that due to difficulties accepting change from their daily routines, some individuals with autism may have an especially hard time dealing with the chaotic nature of emergencies.

Other items in Weaver’s wish list include noise cancelling headphones, stress balls, and fidget toys that will help keep people calm in times of stress.

“I think that these kits will greatly impact our fire departments… they might not be used everyday, but they’ll be great if the situation presents itself,” Weaver said of the sensory kits.

To donate to Weaver’s wish list, go to: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/2VHXWECPLCWVX?ref_=wl_share  or contact him directly at drewweaver84@gmail.com.