I have started a free special needs safety program with a few local fire departments called STICKS.
STICKS stands for…
My son is 7 he is nonverbal autistic and I want him comfortable around first responders in case there is ever an emergency (also for first responders to be comfortable around people with special needs especially nonverbal).
It is a FREE 30-45 minute program. The departments volunteer their time and they decide how often to hold the program. (My departments usually do it 1x per month with a few of the busier months off around the holidays.)
There is a very short story (I write the stories and will send a PDF of each story with the lesson plan thru email); do a quick hands on activity with the kids, watch a quick youtube video about the lesson; the firefighters put on their gear (this is to help the kids get used to seeing them in gear in hopes they won’t be scared of them if they ever need help); then they just hang out, check out the trucks, etc.
This short video shows some highlights of a recent event…
Here is an example of a lesson:
Very quick to the point and simple!
What makes my program different than others? My program is designed for people with special needs such as autism. The books are what we call "social stories" so they are quick, to the point, not a lot of words, and repeats the same thing thru out the book. Each book is anywhere from 10-20 pages very simple with maybe a sentence or 2 and pictures per page.
We also do only 1 lesson per time as too much information can get confusing to the kids. With my departments that do the program monthly we have seen tons of success with the kids!
My son started off crying screaming and trying to run out of the room -- also not sitting and listening or participating in the hands on activity for the first 4 programs.
Now, 10 months later, it’s all he wants to do! Using his iPad talking app he asks to see his firemen friends daily, he’s having me reread the books a million times a day, he sits and listens to the story during the program, he participates, he laughs with the firemen, he gives high fives and hugs (he doesn’t give lots of people hugs), and he has made 3 awesome friends. Its awesome to see how much the other kids have grown as well!
We do limit it to about 10 families per program. No age limit, parents must stay to help their child.
Learn more on my Facebook page Heroes helping those with special needs and view lots of pictures from the past year.
Thank you! Jenna Newman
Note from j: Jenna also has sells icon cards that are a combination of photographs and drawings that can be used if first responders are faced with communicating with a non-verbal (e.g. autistic, deaf, elderly or non-English speaking) victim. Learn more in below video and on Jenna's Heroes Helping LLC facebook page.