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Miami-Dade launches Autism decal program to enhance safety for neurodivergent residents

Miami-Dade County is taking a significant step towards a more inclusive community with the launch of the Occupant with Autism decal program. This initiative, spearheaded by Commissioner Raquel Regalado and the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), aims to improve communication and safety during emergencies involving individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The program kicks off at 8:30 in the morning on April 2nd at Plaza on Stephen. P. Clark Center’s west side, coinciding with Autism Acceptance Month, serves as a crucial second phase in a broader effort to enhance interaction between first responders and the autistic community.

Training paves the way for the autism decal program

Recognizing the need for improved response protocols, Commissioner Regalado played a key role in establishing a partnership with the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD) in 2021. Regalado is a mother to two neurodivergent adults, which has inspired her to sponsor a resolution to improve the emergency situations involving people with ASD. This collaboration resulted in comprehensive training for over 2,100 police officers and 138 firefighters.

The curriculum focused on best practices for crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques when interacting with individuals on the spectrum. The Occupant with Autism decal program builds upon this vital training by providing a practical tool for families to enhance communication with first responders.

Building upon the success of the training program, the Occupant with Autism decal program offers a practical tool for families. It provides two free decals with the message "Occupant with Autism, May Not Respond to Verbal Commands" for placement on the front door/window of a residence or a car window.

This simple measure offers a clear and immediate way to inform first responders about the presence of someone with autism, potentially preventing misunderstandings and ensuring a more positive interaction. For instance, if a situation arises where someone with autism might not respond typically to verbal commands from a police officer or firefighter, the presence of the decal would immediately communicate this to the first responder, allowing them to adjust their approach accordingly.

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The countywide effort, expanding the reach

The program is a testament to Miami-Dade County's commitment to inclusivity. While the initiative launches at the county level, Commissioner Regalado has actively encouraged other municipalities to join the effort. Cities like North Miami Beach and Hialeah have already implemented similar decal programs, demonstrating the program's potential for wider adoption. This collaborative approach can create a consistent standard of communication across the county, further enhancing safety for residents with autism.

Miami-Dade residents can obtain their free decals at various locations throughout the county. The decals will be available at all Miami-Dade County police stations. Additionally, residents can pick them up at special events like the Pinecrest Farmer's Market (April 13th) and the Autism Family Fun Day at Devon Aire Park (April 27th). This ensures that residents have convenient access to the decals, promoting wider participation in the program.

The Occupant with Autism decal program represents a significant step forward for Miami-Dade County. By combining comprehensive training for first responders with a clear communication tool for families, the program strives to create a safer and more understanding environment for everyone.

At Calle Ocho News, we are dedicated to keeping our community informed about initiatives that promote inclusivity and positive change. Sign up for our newsletter to receive regular updates on important local news and events. We also offer a variety of advertising services to help businesses connect with our engaged audience. Let's work together to build a stronger, more vibrant Miami-Dade County for all.

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