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Mother’s Beach Lifeguard Tower Painted to Raise Awareness for Autism

LA County Ocean Lifeguard Scott Snyder paints MDR lifeguard tower to support special needs families

By Sam Catanzaro

A Mother’s Beach lifeguard tower has been painted by an LA County Lifeguard to raise awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ADS).

The lifeguard tower, created as a temporary art installation inspired by Los Angeles County’s Sirens of Silence program, was painted by Ocean Lifeguard Scott Snyder last month.

“Our firefighters and lifeguards interact with special needs families every day and we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to provide the best care possible,” said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby. “As first responders and community helpers, we are here to protect and provide thoughtful service to everyone in our care – and this program helps us enhance our ability to do that.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, one in 54 children in 2020 was diagnosed with ADS. To help familiarize and expose individuals with ASD to first responders, the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s (LACoFD) Sirens of Silence program works with local organizations, so children with ASD and their parents/caregivers can meet firefighters and lifeguards and see/touch the equipment and apparatus in a quiet, less stimulating setting.

“For some children with ASD, lights and sirens become sensory overload and overwhelming. Individuals with ASD are each unique and have a range of challenges, including communication and social skills. Some may be limited in verbal communication or nonverbal which accounts for nearly one-third of people with autism,” the County said. “Nearly half of those with autism also wander or bolt from safety. Seeing a fully suited first responder or stranger can also provide a sense of uneasiness.”

The Sirens of Silence program consists of three components. The first is education and awareness for the Department’s first responders through a mandatory training module as well as access to visual aids and informational materials with advice and practical tips on how to approach, respond and communicate. Second, the program supports special needs-friendly events for residents to meet and interact with first responders in a welcoming and sensory-sensitive space. Third, safety-related items (seatbelt covers, sensory toys, etc.) for special needs patients, are provided by the program.

Visit http://fire.lacounty.gov/sirens-of-silence for more information,

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