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Indiana University of Pennsylvania Produces Training Modules About Autism for EMTs

Indiana University of Pennsylvania faculty members Joann Migyanka, DEd, Susan Glor-Scheib, PhD, and Jeff Fratangeli, PhD, have written and produced the first in a series of training modules designed for first responders assisting people with autism in emergency and crisis situations.

The project was supported by an external award of $27,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

"The way that you communicate or approach a person with autism has to be significantly different than from traditional styles," said Dr. Migyanka, assistant professor in the Department of Special Education and Clinical Services. "Persons with autism tend to be very sensitive to sensory stimuli and often have difficulty understanding directions and commands, so it is important that emergency responders communicate with them in a different way than protocols usually dictate."

She and Dr. Glor-Scheib, professor in the Department of Special Education and Clinical Services, and Dr. Fratangeli, assistant professor in the Department of Communications Media, worked through the Office of Special Projects in the College of Education and Educational Technology to develop the training module.

The module consists of a training DVD featuring parents, professionals and first responders engaged in emergency situations. Additionally, training participants are provided a manual that expands on the information portrayed in the DVD.

Participants are given an evaluation of the content in the DVD and the manual. This training module has been designated to go on the Department of Health Learning Management System so the training can reach as many first responders as possible and allow participants to gain continuing education credits.


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