Extending resources to and for the autistic community will be highlighted at a special town hall at the Norristown Recreation Center on Jan. 28.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Autism Research, the Norristown Police Department and Fort Washington-based Access Services are just some of the organizations that will be part of an Autism Town Hall geared toward persons with intellectual disabilities and their families/caregivers.
The event will include a Q&A session, a resource fair, and breakout session rooms to discuss various topics. Topics of discussion will include transition to adulthood, employment, mental health, fire safety, I.E.P. (individualized education program), elopement, ASD diagnosis and autism and police interactions.
"Our officers respond to a variety of calls for service on a daily basis. Just as each emergency is unique from the next, so are the individuals involved,” said Norristown Acting Police Chief Michael Bishop. “Police officers are trained to respond to a crisis situation with a certain protocol, but this protocol may not always be the best approach when helping people with autism. As Chief of Norristown Police Department, I recognize that it is critical that responding officers have a working knowledge of autism, and the wide variety of behaviors people with autism can exhibit in emergency situations.
“The Norristown Police is genuinely committed to teaching our officers the best ways to respond in these situations and to further support individuals on the Autism spectrum."
Jamiel Owens, family relations coordinator at the Center for Autism Research, added, "The Center for Autism Research at CHOP recognizes the need for our communities to be seen and heard; meeting people where they are with education and resources that directly assist them and help build strong connections that unite us as one. As a professional, and an autism father myself, this is a priority, not an option."
ASERT (Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative) and Norristown Area School District will also be present at the town hall.
Autism Town Hall runs from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. at the Norristown Recreation Center, 1101 Harding Blvd., Norristown. Registration is preferred at bit.ly/3YAm6vr. For more information, reach out to Ingrid Parker at 484-868-6720.