The Norfolk County Sheriff’s Department in Massachusetts is spearheading a project to keep children with autism safe by introducing new Autism Awareness seatbelt cover. According to a report this month by WPRI.com, the cover attaches to the chest strap with Velcro, and features the message “I have autism, I may resist help.” The innovation offers much-needed comfort for parents of children on the spectrum, who are concerned that their children might not know what to do in the event of an accident.
“If there was an accident, he absolutely wouldn’t have any idea what to do,” Margaret Cole, whose son Cameron has autism, said. “He might act completely wrong.”
Sheriff Jerry McDermott, of the NCSD, said he got the idea for the covers from a program in the U.K., adding that as far he knows, this is the first time it has been implemented in the U.S.
“Not just police officers, but any first responder, they happen upon a scene where a mom or dad is incapacitated and the child in the car is on the autism spectrum they may be nonverbal or their skills may not be such that they can discuss what is happening with that first responder,” McDermott said.
Sunyub Hwang, an officer with the department, said providing the covers “just makes everything simpler for us, for fire, for any first responder.”
As noted by WPRI, the seatbelt covers are available free of charge at any police station in Norfolk County.