“People we talked to thought it was a good idea,” McDermott said. “In the case of an emergency, if the parent or driver is incapacitated, this helps first responders know the situation ... it’s a public safety issue.” People with autism can react differently to first responders, especially in an emergency situation, said Weymouth police officer Jennifer Pompeo, who does community outreach for the department. The covers state: “I have Autism. I May Resist Help.”
McDermott said the covers were created in consultation with a few organizations that deal with autism, like the non-profit The Arc of South Norfolk. “It’s another tool for first responders,” said The Arc’s Vice President Dan Sullivan. “With this they can quickly assess the situation and give more effective aid.” The Westwood based non-profit also runs a program called the Autism and Law Enforcement Education Coalition in collaboration with the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office. The program provides training to police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel on how to communicate and assist people with autism. McDermott said he had 700 covers made in the first run and started donating them to departments this month. He said the covers cost his department about $2 each to make, but they are free to families who want them.